News

Posted July 22, 2022 by Ry Marcattilio

Billions in federal funding planned for investment over the next half decade means that, more than ever, we need dedicated, smart, capable people to ensure that public funds go to pragmatic, equitable, locally controlled infrastructure and programs. The National Digital Inclusion Alliance (NDIA) has been a clear and leading voice on policy issues since its formation, and their team is growing. It's an opportunity to join a talented team doing crucial work.

Currently, the organization is hiring for three positions.

Policy Manager

Posted July 20, 2022 by Karl Bode

The Navajo Tribal Utility Authority (NTUA) is slated to receive more than half a million dollars in Covid-relief funding from the state of Utah. The funding will help the NTUA expand fiber and wireless access to part of the 27,425 square mile Navajo Nation, improving access at Navajo anchor institutions and some of the nation’s 173,000 residents. 

The NTUA was created in 1959 by Navajo leaders frustrated by the fact that regional utilities had failed to provide uniform electricity services to the Navajo people. Still, over 60 years later and not only is the failure to electrify marginalized communities still a problem, the organization is leveraging its experience in that fight to expand broadband access as well. 

Project Timeline: 30 months

Posted July 19, 2022 by Ry Marcattilio

This week on the podcast, Christopher is joined by Mike Conlow, Director of Network Strategy at Cloudflare, a network security and Internet performance company. Christopher and Mike dive into the upcoming Broadband Serviceable Locations Fabric which will serve as the basis for the new nationwide maps from the Federal Communications Commission.

They talk about what's going to be better as compared to the old Form 477 data collection process and the importance of making sure new maps faithfully represent the problem of the digital divide in the United States. They also dig into the policy and deployment implications when federal data bought with public dollars is not openly shared in forms that invite corroboration. 

Sign up for Mike's newsletter here.

Posted July 19, 2022 by sean

In the heart of Maryland's Eastern Shore – a place Forbes Magazine considers one of the “Top 5 Coolest Towns to Buy A Vacation Home” – a fiber-to-the-home project is making the region an even cooler place to live. Building on its historical allure and 600 miles of Chesapeake Bay waterfront views, state, county and local utility officials are making a multimillion-dollar investment to transform Talbot County’s half dozen towns (and a handful of other unincorporated communities) 40 miles east of Annapolis into a far more attractive place to live, work, and play. To do that, they are relying on Easton Utilities, the county’s seat long-standing municipal utility, to expand high-speed Internet access into the most rural reaches of the region.

Posted July 18, 2022 by Ry Marcattilio

Join us live on Thursday, July 21st, 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) to talk about all the recent broadband news fit to print.

This includes everything from the Notice of Inquiry on updating the definition of broadband to 100/20 Megabits per second (Mbps) by Federal Communications Commission Chairwoman Jessica Rosenworcel, to recent announcements of public/private partnerships, to what will happen with some of the national ISPs getting more subsidies to expand Internet access, to expectations around the Buy America provisions of key broadband subsidies.

Posted July 15, 2022 by Karl Bode

In the summer of 2021, Lakeland city commissioners voted 5-to-1 to strike a private-public partnership (P3) with Summit Broadband, part of a 10 year plan to expand broadband availability within city limits. But officials in this central Florida city of 112,000 have expressed growing consternation that the planned broadband expansion is behind schedule and more selective than expected. 

“I think this is the right move for the City of Lakeland as it will accomplish what was my goal: to make it a smart city without the burden of bonding out our debt,” Lakeland Commissioner Bill Read said shortly after the project was announced. “The private sector can do a job much better than any public entity, better than our city.”

A year later and several city leaders don’t seem entirely sure. 

Posted July 13, 2022 by Emma Gautier

For the past two years, York County, Pennsylvania (est. pop. 459,000) has been working hard on a multi-part plan to connect both rural and urban areas.  

York began laying out plans for a county-owned middle-mile network in 2020. The idea was to make last-mile hookups viable for private providers in more areas of the county, and to close its major connectivity gaps.

Posted July 12, 2022 by sean

In the 1980s, Rancho Cucamonga proclaimed itself “The City with a Plan.” Back then, the plan was to remake this once rural enclave known for its vineyards into more than just one of the many sunny suburbs of Los Angeles. That forward-looking spirit was revived again 30 years later as city leaders looked to cultivate a digital vineyard with the creation of a “Fiber Optic Master Plan” – a six-year $13 million investment plan that targets the city’s new development. Today, the city along the famed Route 66 owns and operates Rancho Cucamonga Municipal Broadband in partnership with Onward, a local private Internet service provider. 

Posted July 12, 2022 by Ry Marcattilio

This week’s podcast comes from the Fiber Connect 2022 conference held in Nashville, Tennessee last month where Christopher caught up with Heather Mills, Vice President for Grants and Funding Strategies at CTC Technology & Energy.

During the conversation, Heather challenges Christopher’s assessment of the BEAD program in the Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act (IIJA) and what he calls the program’s “complex and onerous” requirements. Heather kicks things off by telling Christopher to “get over it” because ultimately the program uses tax dollars, emphasizing how important it is that those funds are not misspent.

Posted July 11, 2022 by Karl Bode

Driven by Covid frustration and a boom in available grant money, Santa Clara County, California officials say they’re moving forward with their plans to explore a municipal broadband network, with the formal next steps expected to be announced at the tail end of this year. 

Last December, the board of supervisors in Santa Clara unanimously approved the creation of a publicly-owned fiber municipal broadband network. Spearheaded by County Supervisors Cindy Chavez and Susan Ellenberg, the project aims to provide “affordable, reliable high speed broadband service” to communities across Santa Clara County.

Posted July 8, 2022 by Karl Bode

Whidbey Island, Washington is the latest region poised to benefit from a major, multi-pronged boost in state fiber investment. Financing provided by the Washington State Public Works Board, combined with federal broadband infrastructure acceleration grants, should soon dramatically expand affordable fiber across various parts of the island.

Last December, the Washington State Public Works Board approved $44.6 million in financing for 15 broadband projects across the state. That included $4.8 million for the Port of Coupeville on Whidbey Island to expand fiber-to-the-home (FTTH) broadband service to under-served island communities.

As with countless U.S. towns and cities, Covid-19 home schooling and telecommuting dramatically highlighted a need to improve access to affordable, future-proof broadband infrastructure.

Posted July 6, 2022 by christopher

As Americans from coast to coast observed Independence Day over the weekend, over the past year a number of this nation's indigenous tribes have been working towards the establishment of digital sovereignty in Indian Country. Here is a story on what have come to be called Tribal Broadband Bootcamps (TBBs).

Posted June 30, 2022 by Ry Marcattilio

This week on the podcast, Christopher is joined by Seth Wainer, the former CIO of the city of Newark, New Jersey. During the conversation, Seth shares his time with the city from 2013-2018. He talks about the progress the city made in improving local connectivity across different arenas, from cataloging existing assets, to pursuing both wired and wireless self-funded projects (to more than 100 buildings today), to putting in vendor-agnostic fiber in downtown development, to coordinating utility projects to lower costs.

Posted June 28, 2022 by sean

As was the case last year, PCMag’s recently released Top 10 list of “The Fastest ISPs of 2022” feature operators that are either municipal broadband networks or use city-owned fiber or conduit to deliver service across whole or parts of their footprint (with the exception of this year’s ninth-place finisher). Another way of saying that is: not one of 10 fastest networks in the nation are owned or operated by the major national ISPs, many of whom have embarked on an aggressive lobbying campaign to misinform public officials in particular and the public in general on the viability and successes of municipal broadband and local partnerships.

Posted June 28, 2022 by Ry Marcattilio

The Midwest Peering Summit is in Des Moines, Iowa this year on July 26th, with participants able to hear from industry veterans and Internet Exchange (IX) operators on a range of topics, from improving efficiencies and performance, to last-mile deployments, to distributed architecture. 

The event begins at 11am, with panels scattered throughout the day, and a reception at the end of the day.

The event will feature speakers from Internet Exchange carriers of a variety of sizes from from all over the midwestt, nationally and globally, as well as vendors and Internet Service Providers (ISPs). Familiar names include MICE, Hurricane Electric, South Front Networks, US Intenet, Vatnage Point, and many more.

See the full list of speakers and participants here, and register for the Midwest Peering Summit here.

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