Jefferson County, Washington’s Public Utility District (PUD) is just the latest to take advantage of a flood of new grants — and recently-eliminated restrictions on community broadband — to expand access to affordable fiber across the state.
Predictably, the big monopoly incumbents are aiming their lobbying efforts to influence state lawmakers as states funnel federal funds into state broadband grant programs. In some states, the Big Telco lobby is getting the desired result: shun publicly-owned network proposals to shield monopoly providers from competition. But while we might expect Florida and Texas to favor the private sector and stealthily move to shut out projects that are publicly-owned, we’re surprised that the first place it’s happening is actually Illinois and New York.
This week’s episode of our Community Broadband Bits podcast is particularly insightful for communities considering how to leverage the broadband expansion funds embedded in the Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act. Christopher is joined by Nancy Werner, General Counsel of the National Association of Telecommunications Officers and Advisors (NATOA), an under-the-radar organization that advises local government officials on telecommunication issues. The two focus on ways the Broadband Equity, Access and Deployment (BEAD) program can be used to support local Internet choice in both rural areas and more densely populated communities.
In this episode of the Connect This! Show, co-hosts Christopher Mitchell and Travis Carter (USI Fiber) are joined by guests Joshua Edmonds (City of Detroit) and Jason Hardebeck (Baltimore City) to talk about large cities prioritizing equity in building community broadband.
The panel will talk current events in broadband, what digital equity problems affect their cities, solutions to these problems, and the biggest challenges to implementing those solutions.
This week on the podcast, Christopher is joined by Nancy Werner, General Counsel of the National Association of Telecommunications Officers and Advisors (NATOA).
During the conversation, the two talk about NATOA and its role in supporting community broadband projects, how the Broadband Equity, Access and Deployment (BEAD) Act is structured, and how exactly BEAD grant money can be used. They also get into the nitty gritty of funding MDU deployment projects with BEAD money, and what priorities need to be considered to access those funds. The show ends with a discussion about the promise and shortcomings of taking a simplified approach to setting right of way and franchise fees.
Consultants working with the City of Mansfield – the seat of DeSoto Parish – are nearing completion of a comprehensive community assessment as the small northwest Louisiana community of about 4,500 is setting the table to build a municipal fiber network.
In October 2021, Mansfield’s five-member city council voted unanimously to hire Louisiana Connected to lead the study in partnership with Lit Communities. After the council vote, Mansfield Mayor John H. Mayweather, Sr. described the decision as the first step in establishing a public-private partnership to bring reliable and affordable high-speed Internet access to every household and business in the city.
In a press statement released after the October vote, Mayor Mayweather said:
Buoyed by an explosion in new grants and the recent elimination of state restrictions on community broadband deployments, Washington State is awash in freshly-funded local broadband proposals that should go a long way toward shoring up affordable Internet access across the Pacific Northwest. Thirteen Washington State counties, ports and Tribal associations recently received $145 million in Broadband Infrastructure Acceleration grants aimed at boosting Internet access and affordability statewide.
Located in southeastern Iowa, Dubuque (pop. 60,000) has considered the advantages of building a municipal network a number of times over the past fifteen years. Back in 2005, the city – as well as several other Iowa communities – voted to “grant the right to create municipal systems” (Telegraph Herald, 2009). The new legislation, however, did not result in many new telecommunications utilities.
In this episode of the Connect This! Show, co-hosts Christopher and Travis Carter (USI Fiber) are joined by regular guests Kim McKinley (UTOPIA Fiber) and Doug Dawson (CCG Consulting) to talk about cities building broadband. Later, the panel will be joined by special guest Sascha Meinrath.
The panel will reflect on the good, the bad and the ugly of urban broadband projects around the country. What are cities doing right? What are cities doing wrong? We're taking a look at the big picture, and asking what ISPs, municipalities and others can do to get creative in addressing digital equity concerns head on.
Two years after launching a community-based model to help residents overcome the digital skills challenges that keep so many offline, the National Digital Inclusion Alliance (NDIA) announced in February 2022 that it has received a $10 million grant from Alphabet subsidiary Google to dramatically expand the impact of its Digital Navigator Corps model across the country. The money will allow NDIA to take the Corps nationwide to 18 new communities (including Tribal sites), helping thousands of people overcome adoption barriers with the help of local experts.
This week on the podcast, Christopher is joined by ILSR Community Broadband Networks Research Team Lead Ry Marcattilio-McCracken and Communications Team Lead Sean Gonsalves.
During the conversation, the three discuss stories from the big list of American Rescue Plan Community Broadband Projects, Sean’s Broadband Breakfast Telehealth Op-Ed with Craig Settles, and why healthcare providers aren’t advocating for universal healthcare. They also get into ILSR Researcher Christine Parker’s recent piece breaking down Broadband Now’s Broadband Pricing Changes report. Christopher ends the show by ranting about inaction by cities to address the digital divide, with Sean and Ry weighing in.
Named for its iron-rich natural springs, Yellow Springs is a hip and diverse village of approximately 3,600 Central Ohioans that most recently made headlines because of the controversy over comedian and actor Dave Chappelle’s opposition to a housing development proposal in the hometown of its most famous resident.
While the Village Council ultimately sided with Chappelle and other resident opponents in scaling back the planned development, in January the council gave their unanimous support for a different project that promises to connect village residents.
Last year, nearly two dozen community leaders in Baltimore were brought together with national experts for a five-week crash course on network engineering, federal policymaking, community broadband networking, and grassroots organizing.
It was an online program called “The Digital Equity Leadership Lab (DELL)” – an initiative created by the Robert W. Deutsch Foundation in response to “other digital inclusion programs across the U.S. that have failed to consider the technical aspects of the Internet and social inequalities alongside broader Internet policy and advocacy goals.”
Last November the LA County Board of Supervisors quietly and unanimously approved a project that could dramatically reshape affordable Internet access in the largest county in the United States. The newly approved plan first aims to deliver wireless broadband to the 365,000 low-income households in Los Angeles county that currently don’t subscribe to broadband service, starting with a 12,500 home pilot project. But the vote also approved a new feasibility study into a Los Angeles county-wide municipal fiber network.