News

Posted March 2, 2022 by sean

Last week we invited you to save the date for a two-hour livestream event Building for Digital Equity: Demystifying Broadband Policy and Funding that the Institute for Local Self-Reliance (ILSR) is co-organizing with the National Digital Inclusion Alliance (NDIA).

We told you this event – which will be held on Wednesday, March 16th, from 2-4pm ET – was not going to be your average conference or webinar with 45-minute panels that make your derriere doze off or your eyes glaze over like a stale donut.

Posted March 1, 2022 by Henry

It’s been one long year since Chris took a bet with Travis over the FCC updating the definition of broadband, and this week we’ll find out who won (not looking good, Chris). 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 current events in broadband.

The panel will talk about the FCC definition of broadband, MDUs, other recent news and will continue their conversation about redlining and digital discrimination.

Posted March 1, 2022 by Henry

This week on the podcast, Christopher is joined by Bill Coleman, Founder of Community Technology Advisors in St. Paul, Minnesota.

Posted March 1, 2022 by sean

Building on the fiber backbone that connects Choptank Electric Cooperative’s smart grid, the member-owned cooperative began construction of a fiber-to-the-home network (FTTH) last year that will reach all 54,000 of its members spread out across nine counties. Now subscribers are being lit up for service as the co-op continues to extend the network.

Posted February 25, 2022 by Emma Gautier

With nearly 65,000 households unable to connect to the Internet at basic broadband speeds of 25/3 Megabits per second (Mbps), municipalities across the Green Mountain State have risen to the fore in formulating creative models for addressing the tens of thousands of homes without broadband access. Iterating on the EC Fiber (with roots back to the early 2000s), joint, municipally led projects have led to the creation of a total of nine Communications Union Districts (CUDs) at present, which places community-owned broadband at the forefront in Vermont.

Posted February 22, 2022 by Henry

In this episode of the Connect This! Show, co-hosts Christopher and Travis Carter (USI Fiber) are joined by Peggy Schaffer (ConnectME) and Matt Schmit (Connect Illinois) for a closer look at state broadband offices.

The panel will dig into state grant opportunities, what broadband offices look for in partnerships, and how states are getting creative to support ISPs that connect underserved communities.

Subscribe to the show using this feed on YouTube Live or here on Facebook Live, or visit ConnectThisShow.com

Email us broadband@muninetworks.org with feedback and ideas for the show.

Posted February 22, 2022 by Henry

This week on the podcast, Christopher is joined by Will Anderson, Program Coordinator at Vermont Communications Union Districts Association (VCUDA) and Evan Carlson, Board Chair at NEK Broadband (Northeast Kingdom, VT).

During the conversation, the three discuss the origins and progress of Vermont’s Communications Union District (CUD) model, how the Department of Public Service has worked to support CUDs with better broadband mapping and data, and NEK Broadband’s journey from identifying a need to connecting their first customers. Christopher, Will and Evan also talk about how CUDs establish partnerships with local ISPs to keep broadband money circulating in the local economy and how CUDs are primed to take advantage of federal COVID relief money.

Posted February 22, 2022 by sean

As it has become increasingly clear that the private market alone is not going to solve America’s connectivity crisis, last year two states (Arkansas and Washington) rolled back their preemption laws that were protecting monopoly incumbent providers from competition and now allow local and regional governmental entities to build the telecommunications infrastructure their residents need. Now, one Nebraska lawmaker has recently filed a bill that, if passed, would significantly remove the Cornhusker State’s current barriers to municipal broadband. 

Posted February 18, 2022 by sean

As federal funds to expand high-speed Internet access began to flow to states and local communities through the American Rescue Plan Act, and with billions more coming under the Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act, Big Telecom is beginning to mount its expected opposition campaign designed to discourage federal (and state) decision-makers from prioritizing the building of publicly-owned networks. Part of the impetus, no doubt, was the flood of responses to the NTIA’s Notice and Request for Comment (including ours) documenting the need for community-driven solutions in this once-in-a-generation investment that could close the digital divide forever. Meanwhile, successful municipal broadband projects abound, hitting new milestones each year.

Posted February 16, 2022 by Karl Bode

Last year, the Confederated Tribes of the Colville Reservation in Washington State were one of 327 Native Nations to receive wireless spectrum as part of the FCC’s Rural Tribal Window program. Since then, tribal leaders have put that spectrum to use by offering free wireless services that have proven to be a lifesaver during the Covid-19 crisis.

The Rural Tribal Window program offered tribal access to one 49.5 megahertz channel, one 50.5 megahertz channel, and one 17.5 megahertz channel in the 2.5 Ghz band. Tribal applicants could apply for one, two, or all three of the channels, depending on availability.

Building Community Capacity

Posted February 15, 2022 by Henry

This week on the podcast, Christopher is joined by Jeff Magsamen, Telecom Director at Waverly Utilities in Waverly, Iowa.

During the conversation, the two discuss Waverly’s journey building a municipal network, how triple play take rates have changed in the last few years, and the benefits of partnering with neighboring municipal networks to reduce startup costs. Christopher and Jeff also take some time to highlight Waverly’s impressive take rate in the community, and what it takes to build a network people love.

Posted February 15, 2022 by Ry Marcattilio-...

We're living through a time with an unprecedented level of broadband infrastructure funding, fueled not only by the American Rescue Plan, but the Consolidated Appropriations Act, the Coronavirus Capital Projects Fund, and the Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act. Hundreds of community-driven projects are already underway, but finding solid footing amidst these programs, statutes, and evolving rules is difficult. To help, the Institute for Local Self-Reliance is teaming up with the National Digital Inclusion Alliance for a two-hour livestream event to demystify the landscape. On Wednesday, March 16th, from 2-4pm ET, we're hosting an online conversation to bring together local stakeholders, policy advocates, and funding experts in one place. We're calling it Building for Digital Equity: Demystifying Broadband Policy and Funding.

Posted February 14, 2022 by sean

In November, a majority of voters in China (not the country, but a small town in Maine) cast their ballots in opposition to a $6.4 million proposal for a municipal broadband network that, if built, would have provided high-speed Internet access to every household and business in this central Maine town of 4,300.

In recent weeks, China residents learned that Consolidated Communications would not be coming to the rescue. As reported by The Town Line, two representatives from Consolidated Communications attended China’s Broadband Committee (CBC) meeting in late January and the company reps “did not encourage (China) to expect an offer from the company to expand [I]nternet service to town residents.”

Posted February 11, 2022 by Emma Gautier

Located in the most northeastern part of Tennessee, BrightRidge has served as Johnson City’s public power utility for nearly 80 years. About a decade ago, BrightRidge stepped into the broadband space, and has since been taking serious strides to connect Johnson City residents and surrounding communities. 

When we left off with BrightRidge in 2019, the utility was about to start into the first three phases of a fiber buildout to provide 3,847 homes and 373 businesses with broadband access. Since then, state and local funding as well as utility investments have allowed BrightRidge to reach thousands of residents in the area.  

Posted February 10, 2022 by Ry Marcattilio-...

Dickson, Tennessee was the third municipal electric system to take power from the Tennessee Valley Authority after its creation in 1933, but the utility actually predates the regional electric generation system by almost 30 years. Today, it’s entering a new phase of life, parlaying its 117-year history of bringing affordable electric service into an $80 million fiber-to-the-home (FTTH) build that will see every household in its footprint (37,000 meters) get future-proof Internet access within the next four years.

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