Quincy, Massachusetts, recently let the public know that they're serious about encouraging local Internet access competition through public investment. At an October 21st press conference, Mayor Thomas Koch and City Council Member Ian Cain announced that the largest city in Norfolk County will begin gathering data on local interest in a municipal Fiber-to-the-Home network.
Williamstown, Massachusetts, may ask their constituents to vote on the creation of a publicly owned fiber optic system. For the town of 7,700, a vote on whether or not to invest in fast, affordable, reliable, Internet network infrastructure isn't imminent, however, as Williamstown still has significant research ahead.
An Ongoing Discussion
This past summer, community leaders learned from Select Board Member Andrew Hogeland more about the possibilities in Williamstown. He gave his update regarding the research on the broadband initiative at a July meeting:
“The answer seems to be: It's promising," Hogeland said.
If you're a regular reader of MuniNetworks.org, you've seen Karl Bode's name and it's almost certain you've read his work elsewhere. Karl has had his finger on the pulse of telecom, broadband, and related legislative events for a long time.
On October 21, 2019, The American Conservative published an article by the Institute for Local Self-Reliance's Christopher Mitchell. The article delves into how preemption affected the municipal broadband project in Lafayette, Louisiana. Christopher addresses the fact that many communities that have invested in local Internet networks have done so to fill a void in a manner that is based in self-determination. He also discusses the ways local government strengths lend themselves to the success of municipal networks and how somes states are making changes that may signal a shift in perspective.
We've reproduced the article in full here:
Fleeced by the Telecoms and Your State is Blessing It
You may live in a place where the monopolies' lobbyists have more authority than your local government.
The Institute for Local Self-Reliance (ILSR) seeks a Communications and Podcast Production Intern to support ILSR’s Community Broadband Networks Initiative in Minneapolis, Minnesota. We are looking for candidates with audio editing experience and an interest in communications strategy. We work on a wide range of issues, including universal Internet access, network neutrality, and municipal broadband. We strongly value a diverse workforce and are committed to the principle of equal employment opportunity. ILSR promotes an environment free of discrimination and harassment and our Minneapolis office is located in a welcoming neighborhood.
On Oct. 21, 2019, The American Conservative published a piece written by Christopher Mitchell, Director of the Community Broadband Networks Initiative at the Institute for Local Self-Reliance. Christopher discusses broadband preemption and the importance of localities being able to pursue the broadband solution that best fits their needs. Read excerpts from his piece below:
When first presented with the idea of a city-run network, [Joey] Durel was skeptical but open minded. He looked toward the Lafayette Utility System, which already handled electricity, water, and wastewater for the community—and had a much better reputation than the cable and telephone monopolies—to make an assessment.
Ammon, Idaho, got our attention years ago but as benefits from the city’s publicly owned fiber optic infrastructure continue to grow, others are taking notice. Most recently, contributing editor at Fast Company, Jay Woodruff wrote about the community’s investment in Fast Company's “The New Capitalism” series.
Who gets access to fast broadband? Evidence from Los Angeles County 2014-17 by Hernan Galperin, Thai Le, and Kurt Daum, USC Annenberg
Broadband lights up West County prospects by Michael Cox, Montrose Daily Press
Lakeland wants to build a broadband network by Bradley George, WUSF
We recently introduced you to our informative and campy video series, “From Crops to Co-ops: Small Towns Want Better Internet!” In episode 2, we continue the saga of “Villageville,” where the streets are quiet, the people are friendly, and the Internet access leaves much to be desired. Last time, you met some of the people who live in this rural community and discovered how they've dealt with substandard connectivity. People are getting a little fed up; could the wind be shifting in Villageville?
When Lincoln, Nebraska, developed their extensive network of conduit back in 2012, they were working within the confines of restrictive state law to encourage better local connectivity. Jump ahead seven years and we find that the city has established a fruitful partnership with private sector partner ALLO Communications. The relationship has brought a long list of benefits to the community, but the latest will help nonprofit sector organizations — Lincoln and ALLO will provide free gigabit Internet access for 10 years to 75 local nonprofits.
Residents and businesses in Carencro, in the northern region of Lafayette Parish of Louisiana, now have access to LUS Fiber. The expansion is the latest step in efforts to deploy the Fiber-to-the-Home (FTTH) network to every community within the Parish.
In 2018, the publicly owned network began offering services in Youngsville and Broussard, an expansion that had been more than two years in the making. As the utility adds more expansions to their list of accomplishments, they'll also add knowledge on how to contend with challenges and demand will grow.
According to Teles Fremin, Interim Director of LUS Fiber:
Even though there are more than 140 municipalities and counties that have voted to reclaim local telecommunications authority from the state, the City and County of Denver, Colorado, has put off such a referendum. 2020, however, may be the year that the metropolitan region votes to shed themselves of the harmful restrictions of SB 152.
When local communities apply for funding to improve local Internet infrastructure, grants and loans are often predicated on the need to deploy to unserved and underserved premises. Whether it's federal, state, or local sources, Federal Communications Commission (FCC) data determining whether or not a region has access to broadband is often the data that funding entities rely on. In recent years, it’s become apparent that FCC data grossly understates the lack of accessibility to broadband. Finally in August 2019, the FCC called for comments as they reconsider how to collect fixed broadband data. The Institute for Local Self-Reliance teamed up with Next Century Cities and several other organizations with whom we often collaborate, submitted both Comments and Reply Comments.
Fixing the Bad Data
Initiative seeks to boost conditions in region by Marco Cartolano, Journal-Courier
Waterloo, Iowa, to consider municipal broadband project by Tim Johnson, Waterloo-Cedar Falls Courier