This week on the Community Broadband Bits podcast, Christopher dives deeper into the history of how broadband monopolies severely restricted local Internet choice in North Carolina with HB 129, passed by the state legislature in 2011. In this first half of a two part conversation, Christopher and his guests, Catharine Rice and Jack Cozort, discuss early attempts to preempt municpal broadband authority in the years leading up to HB 129, speaking frankly about the sway telecom lobbyists held over state legislators.
Little-known Internet network plans Western Colorado expansion to link students, nonprofits to supercomputers by Tamara Chuang, Colorado Sun
Louisiana co-op broadband bill faces hurdles in legislature by Mark Ballard, Government Technology
Legislation in the Louisiana state house that would urge electric cooperatives to help bring high-speed Internet to rural areas cleared its third legislative hurdle Monday.But the rural co-ops opposed the bill arguing that recently amended wording in the measure would preclude the cooperatives from competing for the broadband Internet business.
A bill close to being passed by the Louisiana State Legislature would allow electric cooperatives to expand Internet access but only in parts of the state without broadband currently. This limitation in the bill, SB 406, will keep Internet choice out of reach for many rural Lousianans and could even hamstring co-ops’ efforts to expand broadband to unserved areas.
“The language would restrict us from competing with others in the broadband market but would not stop them from cherry picking (customers) from cooperatives who choose to get in the broadband market,” Jeff Arnold, CEO of the Association of Louisiana Electric Cooperatives, explained to the Advocate.
Washington and Massachusetts are both working with publicly owned broadband networks to deploy emergency Wi-Fi hotspots in underserved communities in response to the Covid-19 pandemic. In Washington, a state-led initiative is deploying hundreds of new Wi-Fi access points with the help of community networks, including Northwest Open Access Network, a statewide middle-mile network, and several Public Utility Districts. And on the other side of the country, Massachusetts has enlisted the help of municipal network Whip City Fiber to establish Wi-Fi hotspots in communities with poor connectivity
Across the country, more people than ever are working and learning from home, making a quality Internet connection vital for everyone in every locality during the Covid-19 pandemic. For Americans in inadequately connected areas — rural and urban — adapting to a more isolated and remote learning and working lifestyle proves extremely difficult when lacking a reliable Internet connection.
Many electric cooperatives and other broadband providers have quickly rolled out solutions to ensure that their subscribers are connected and well-equipped to adapt. Many of them are also working with community institutions to ensure all residents have some level of connectivity, especially children for remote learning purposes.
OzarksGo Brings Broadband to Busses
The fourth edition of our report, Cooperatives Fiberize Rural America: A Trusted Model for the Internet Age, reveals the steady growth of cooperative fiber since we originally released the report in 2017. In the report, we present rural telephone and electric cooperatives as a proven model to connect rural communities across the country with high-quality Internet access. This version updates the maps and analysis in the report with the most recent federal data.
BroadbandNow.com — a company that mostly focuses on crunching different data sets to provide information on where broadband is available — has released its second report on municipal broadband barriers.
Their first one had some basic factual failings, and we were concerned that it would mislead people. The new report has corrected some of those errors, but it makes new ones that again lead us to caution against making decisions based on claims within it.
Partnerships can close the digital divide by Apoorva Pasricha & Kevin Frazier, GovTech
In the City: Connexion provides WiFi to students without Internet by Colman Keane, Coloradoan
In March, we reported on the formation of Deerfield Valley Communications Union District in Vermont.
That same month, communities in different parts of the state also formed two other communications union districts (CUDs) to improve their local connectivity. Voters in dozens of towns approved the formation of Northeast Kingdom CUD and Southern Vermont CUD during Vermont’s Town Meeting Day on March 3. The two new CUDs are currently undertaking feasibility studies and hope to take advantage of federal and state funding — including through Vermont’s new — to deploy Fiber-to-the-Home networks to all region residents and businesses.
In their recent, biased report bashing community broadband, the Taxpayers Protection Alliance (TPA) alleges that municipal broadband networks are “GON With the Wind,” but it’s really the report’s authors who have run off with reality. To counter TPA’s erroneous and misleading claims, the Community Broadband Networks initiative has prepared a response to the report in which we summarize its many shortcomings and errors.
Yesterday, the Transnational Institute (TNI) released The Future Is Public, a book that explores international municipalization efforts and the benefits of public ownership. In addition to tracking the successful transition of water, waste, energy, and other essential services to public ownership in hundreds of communities, the book describes how local governments in the United States have increasingly invested in municipal broadband networks.
Late last month, we reported on Frontier Communications’ claim that it now offers broadband in 17,000 rural census blocks in an effort to remove those areas from the Federal Communications Commission’s (FCC’s) upcoming rural broadband funding program. At the time, we expressed concerns that the provider may be exaggerating Internet speeds. Earlier today, the Institute for Local Self-Reliance filed comments with the FCC to draw attention to Frontier’s questionable claims. We call on the FCC to either investigate or to simply refuse Frontier’s disputable claims to ensure unserved rural areas aren’t prevented from receiving subsidies to expand broadband access.
Merit Network is hosting a weekly Michigan Moonshot Educational Series in the lead-up to their Broadband Summit this fall, and as part of the programming, Director of Community Broadband Networks initiative Christopher Mitchell recently hosted a webinar called “Exploring the Basics of Broadband.” Aimed at community leaders and the interested public, it explores the different solutions — and their relative advantages and disadvantages — in an accessible way.
Access the webinar on Merit's website, or watch the video below.
The Good, the Bad, and the Ugly