On April 4th, 2019, the Board of Commissioners of Berrien County, Michigan approved a resolution that formally acknowledges that achieving countywide access to high-speed Internet is crucial to the county’s mission of improving quality of life for present and future generations.
At the 2019 Annual Town Meeting, voters in Plainfield, Massachusetts, unanimously approved the $150,000 necessary to begin operating the Plainfield Broadband network. Westfield's Whip City Fiber, about 35 miles south, will be working with Plainfield to manage the latter's network. Plainfield Broadband expects to have Fiber-to-the-Home (FTTH) high-speed Internet service to a few homes at the end of 2019 and a finished network in 2020.
Summer is quickly approaching, which means we’re opening up opportunities for interns looking to gain some experience while classes are not in session. This year, we hope to find a Graphic Design Intern to help us develop more resources to help spread the word about publicly owned Internet networks. We want a creative person to fill this June 2019 - August 2019 opening; check out the posting below and apply before May 22, 2019.
Graphic Design Internship (Summer 2019) — Minneapolis, MN
During this legislative session, state lawmakers in several states passed bills that allocated funds to broadband deployment and planning programs. In many states, elected officials are listening to constituents and experts who tell them that they need fast, affordable, reliable connectivity to keep their communities from dwindling. States that refuse funding to public entities, however, block out some of the best opportunities to connect people and businesses in rural areas. In places such as Michigan, Tennessee, and Virginia, states need to trust their own people to develop necessary broadband networks.
Grinnell, Iowa, home to about 9,000 people, has a need for speed. That’s why the city is looking to Mahaska Communication Group (MCG) to provide high-speed Internet service of up to 1 Gbps (1,000 Mbps) over a Fiber-to-the-Home (FTTH) network. After MCG announced the possibility in mid-April 2019, Windstream Communications now also plans to bring FTTH to Grinnell according to The Scarlet and Black.
The Carolina Public Press interviewed Christopher Mitchell, Director of ILSR's Community Broadband Networks initiative, for a story about two proposed bills in North Carolina that aim to help bridge the digital divide.
His contributions are below:
Christopher Mitchell, director of the Community Broadband Networks Initiative for the Minneapolis-based Institute for Local Self-Reliance, said it’s evident by what’s happening on the ground that the major companies like Spectrum, AT&T and Century Link are far more interested in investing to compete in the lucrative, more densely populated markets. At the same time, he said, they’re fighting off changes in order to hold onto their monopolies in the less populated regions.
“It’s a fundamental conflict because North Carolina needs to encourage other kinds of investment,” he said.
Hidden among stories of small town decline are places like Tuttle, Oklahoma, a city of more than 7,000 which has continued to grow in defiance of the dominant narrative. After existing providers demanded massive subsidies to connect the city, Tuttle decided in 2017 to build its own gigabit Fiber-to-the-Home (FTTH) network. By choosing municipal ownership, Tuttle City Council has ensured that all residents and businesses will have access to fast, affordable, reliable connectivity now and well into the future.
Legislature advances broadband bill, funding by Caroline Beck, Alabama Daily News
Community matters: Improving access to broadband by Sen. John Boozman, The Times Record
Bill clears electric co-ops for broadband services in Georgia by Stephen Hardy, Lightwave
If you believe that publicly owned Internet networks are one of the tools that can help in efforts to expand fast, affordable, reliable connectivity to people in your state, and you want to share your thoughts with elected officials, use this language to get started. There may not be a project being developed in your area or a specific bill that you support, but you know that you want decision makers to vote favorably on measures that advance policies and financially support local authority and communities’ efforts to improve local connectivity through publicly owned broadband infrastructure. We’ve created a brief constituent letter/email that you can use to get started in drafting correspondence to state and federal lawmakers that convey your support for publicly owned Internet networks and local authority.
Keep It Simple, Keep It Effective
Last November, we reported on a change to the tax code that is deterring rural telephone and electric cooperatives from leveraging government funding to expand broadband access. We were alerted to the issue by the office of Senator Tina Smith (D-MN), who sent a letter to Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin and IRS Commissioner Charles Rettig requesting that they remedy the issue and announcing her intention to introduce corrective legislation.
Local communities continue to search for ways to tackle the digital divide, and in San Francisco, the city is making strides by working with a local Internet access company. The City by the Bay and ISP Monkeybrains have adopted a new model to bring high-quality connectivity to residents in public housing. Monkeybrains and San Francisco has found a way to bring the same gigabit Internet access to low-income households at an affordable rate. Read our new report, A Public Housing Digital Inclusion Blueprint: Monkeybrains and San Francisco Deliver a Sustainable Gig, to learn how the partners found a way to shrink the digital divide in public housing facilities.
We recently shared the news that dynamo Deb Socia was leaving her post as Executive Director of Next Century Cities (NCC) to pursue a new position as CEO and President of the Enterprise Center in Chattanooga, Tennessee. Her departure leaves a gap that Next Century Cities and all its 200+ members now need to fill.
While taking up the mantle at NCC will be a heavy lift due to the high bar that Deb established, we’re all confident that the right person is out there. In order to reach that perfect candidate, we want to share the posting for the position of Executive Director and encourage interested people to apply.
Town of Vail opts into Project THOR to enhance regional broadband service by Scott Miller, Vail Daily
Public, private or both: Eagle County communities mull broadband options by Pam Boyd, Vail Daily
Boulder, Colo., considers funds for expanded broadband by Cassa Niedringhaus, Daily Camera