This week on the podcast, Christopher is joined by two representatives from Pharr, Texas (pop. 79,000), which has embarked on a citywide fiber-to-the-home (FTTH) network build that is seeing strong local support and fast progress in recent months. Jose Pena is the IT Director for the city, and and Guillermo Aguilar works as a Partner at Brownstone Consultants, which is serving as a project manager for the network build. Jose and Guillerma talk with Christopher about the impetus for TeamPharr, the municipal effort which formally kicked off in 2017 with a feasibility study.
Now that Internet Service Providers have submitted (or were supposed to submit) their most recent data on exactly where they claim to offer broadband service, the FCC announced last week, starting on September 12, states, local and Tribal governments, service providers, and other entities can submit bulk challenges to the data currently in the Broadband Data Collection (BDC) system. While the agency is making a gallant effort to fix its notoriously inaccurate maps, we still see a few potential holes in the fabric.
The National Telecommunications and Information Administration (NTIA) announced earlier this week that Louisiana will be the first state in the nation to receive federal grant planning funds to help states prepare for the deployment of high-speed Internet infrastructure and digital skills training under the Biden Administration’s “Internet for All” initiative.
Enabled by last year's passage of the Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act (IIJA), the $2.9 million heading to the Pelican State is from the Broadband Equity Access and Deployment (BEAD) program and the Digital Equity Act (DEA) – a development Commerce Secretary Gina Raimondo said was a signal that “the Internet for All initiative is on track and on schedule.”
In May, we published a story about the fate of the Affordable Connectivity Program (ACP), based on a prediction model we built that was intended to visualize how long we might expect the $14.2 billion fund to last before needing new Congressional appropriations to sustain it. We’re back today not only with a new and improved model (based both on more granular geographic data and fed by an additional 16 weeks of enrollment data), but a new dashboard that pulls together a host of information from the Universal Service Administrative Corporation on where and how the Affordable Connectivity Program money is being spent.
Louisiana’s broadband deployment grant program, GUMBO (Granting Unserved Municipalities Broadband Opportunities), was announced with great fanfare by Gov. John Bel Edwards and several state lawmakers when earlier this summer they visited Lake Providence in East Carroll Parish, the first community in the state to be the beneficiaries of the $130 million grant program.
Broadband-hungry residents and businesses were licking their chops at the prospect of finally getting access to reliable high-speed Internet service in an area that had long been underserved. But what’s leaving a bad taste in the mouths of East Carroll Parish residents is an eleventh-hour challenge to the grant award by the regional cable company.
Brownsville recently took a Texas-sized step toward the creation of better broadband options for its residents and businesses, as city commissioners voted in late July to enter into a public-private partnership to build a city wide fiber network known as BTX Fiber.
As reported by The Brownsville Herald:
At a Wednesday morning ceremony in city commission chambers, Brownsville Mayor Trey Mendez and Brownsville Public Utilities Board CEO and General Manager John Bruciak signed an agreement with Brian Snider, CEO of Lit Communities, that will allow the fiber infrastructure to be completely built out.
Join us live on Thursday, August 25th, at 5pm ET for the latest episode of the Connect This! Show. Co-hosts Christopher Mitchell (ILSR) and Travis Carter (USI Fiber) will be joined by regular guests Kim McKinley (UTOPIA Fiber) and Doug Dawson (CCG Consulting). They'll dig into recent news - from big cable companies and telcos going after BEAD grants, to the announcement of 25 Gigabit per second service across the footprint of Chattanooga's municipal network, to the future of streaming video, to a reflective look on how well (or not) we did with the broadband stimulus.
Email us email@example.com with feedback and ideas for the show.
The Tlingit and Haida Tribes will leverage $15 million in Rescue Plan funding to bring LTE-based 100 Mbps symmetrical wireless connectivity to 10,000 unserved residents in and around the city of Wrangell, located on Wrangell Island in southeast Alaska. The Internet Service Provider in charge of the buildout is the newly-launched, tribally-owned ISP Tidal Networks. The project is a pilot the tribes plan to expand to all residents of the island, and eventually to other communities in the region.
Although disappointing for advocates of local Internet choice weary of monopoly providers working to stifle competition, what we are seeing coming out of Montana’s state broadband grant program, Connect MT, shouldn’t be all that surprising. Last week we learned that the state’s Department of Administration had recommended that nearly half of the Connect MT funding – $126 million – be awarded to Charter Communications, which has been aggressively lobbying Montana legislators (and funding campaigns in opposition to community broadband proposals in other states).
A quick update from Christopher on upcoming episodes of the Community Broadband Bits podcast.
This show is 2 minutes long and can be played on this page or via iTunes or the tool of your choice using this feed. You can listen to the interview on this page or visit the Community Broadband Bits page.
Transcript coming soon.
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AARP Minnesota has taken notice: “broadband infrastructure has not been deployed evenly to communities across the state.”
In an effort to raise awareness about the “good news” of state and federal investments to expand infrastructure and how local leaders and residents can learn how to push for better broadband access in their communities, the Minnesota chapter of the AARP will host a “Critical Access: Broadband Expansion in Minnesota” webinar beginning at 1 p.m. CT Wednesday, Aug. 24.
One way or another, Grafton County, New Hampshire is lining up funding to build a massive new middle-mile network county officials hope will drive broadband competition—and more affordable fiber—into long underserved New Hampshire communities.
Grafton was one of 230 U.S. communities that applied for a National Telecommunications and Information Administration (NTIA) Broadband Infrastructure Program grant. Grafton’s specific application asked for $26.2 million to help fund the creation of the 353 mile broadband middle mile network they’re calling Grafton County Broadband Now.
Costly Challenge from National Incumbent Providers
This week on the podcast, Christopher is joined by Jon Chambers, industry veteran and partner at Conexon. The two begin by talking about the work electric cooperatives are doing in rural areas to convert subscribers from DSL connections reluctantly maintained by monopoly providers to member-owned fiber connections.
Communities across the United States today sit at a flash point. On one side, the long-simmering gaps in our broadband infrastructure and the prohibitive cost of fast, reliable Internet access faced by low-income households have left millions of families behind. On the other, billions in federal broadband funding have been disbursed over the last twelve months, with tens of billions more to come. It’s a rare chance to address the digital divide in all of its forms. In response, the Institute for Local Self-Reliance (ILSR) is excited to announce two new programs to help leaders and local government officials address their community’s needs in practical, efficient, clear-eyed ways, with sensitivity to all the things that make their community unique.