Tag: "california"

Posted October 15, 2018 by lgonzalez

When we interviewed folks from Lit San Leandro and San Leandro Dark Fiber for episode 47 of the Community Broadband Bits podcast, the partnership between the local companies and the city was just getting started. Now the city is ready to expand their fiber optic infrastructure. After considering recommendations offered by a consulting firm on the best approach on building out their network to meet their goals, community leaders adopted a fiber master plan in September.

Read the City of San Leandro Fiber Optic Master Plan here.

City Tubes

Local companies Lit San Leandro and San Leandro Dark Fiber collaborate with the city by using publicly owned conduit. Lit San Leandro owns and operates the switch and routing facilities that light up the fiber owned by San Leandro Dark Fiber. 

The existing network connects more than 3,000 businesses within the 2 million square feet of building space that connect to the network. Schools within the San Leandro School District, nonprofits, churches, and other community anchor institutions all use the fiber network. Municipal facilities also connect to the network.

San Leandro has also made public Wi-Fi available in the downtown core and at city facilities. They’re in the process of expanding the service to several city parks and in more of the downtown.

Over the past five years, San Leandro has experienced rapid growth. The 10 gig fiber network has contributed to the city’s reputation as a tech hub, which has attracted both industry and residents. In order to stay ahead of the curve, community leaders consider it time to expand the network with smart city applications in mind. San Leandro has already implemented some smart city technologies, but with an expanded fiber infrastructure, they will be able to use the technology all over town and continue to boost economic development.

In 2017, the City Council hired a consultant to consider, among other questions, how best to expand and use its existing fiber assets, how to fund any expansion, and to offer recommendations on monetizing the network. As part...

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Posted October 3, 2018 by lgonzalez

In September, we told you about the upcoming 2018 Broadband Communities Economic Development Conference set for October 23rd - 25th in Ontario, California. “Fiber For The New Economy” will bring a long list of creative, intelligent, and driven thought leaders together to discuss the infrastructure we all need. Those of us from the Community Broadband Networks Initiative also know of one attending speaker who describes himself as “giddy” — Christopher.

“James Fallows is a great thinker on infrastructure. I’m giddy to hear him speak. People should definitely come,” said Christopher during one of his many visits into the Community Broadband Networks Research Team office, “Giddy!”

James Fallows, a National Correspondent for the Atlantic Monthly, has reported from all over the world. He’s written 12 books, including his latest that he wrote with his wife Deborah, titled, Our Towns: A 100,000-Mile Journey into the Heart of America. He’s won several awards for his writing, including the National Book Award, National Magazine Award, and a documentary Emmy. He’s provided commentary pieces for NPR and spent time as a chief speech writer for President Jimmy Carter.

Deborah Fallows has also written for the Atlantic. Her CV includes National Geographic, Slate, The New York Times, and the Washington Mostly and three books. Deborah is a linguist as well as a writer, reflected in her works.

The Fallows are only two of a distinct line-up of experts, policy leaders, and creative leaders. Several of the speakers and panelists have been guests on the Community Broadband Bits podcast. Some of the others who will present and participate include:

  • Jonathan Chambers from Conexon
  • Michael Curri of Strategic Networks Group
  • Joann Hovis from CTC Energy and Technology
  • Diane Kruse of NEO Connect
  • Jase Wilson from Neighborly
  • Catharine Rice from CLIC

Check out the full list of speakers and panelists here.

See A Giddy Christopher

Look for Christopher, who will be participating in the Blue Ribbon Panel Session along with Dr. Nicol Turner-Lee from the Brookings Institution and Will Rhinehart from the American Action Forum. Lev...

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Posted October 2, 2018 by lgonzalez

While major media outlets cover news about California Governor Jerry Brown’s decision to sign the state’s network neutrality bill, we’re high-fiving his signature on AB 1999. On September 30th, Gov. Brown approved the bill that removes state restrictions limiting publicly owned options for rural Internet access. The change signifies what we hope to see more of - state action empowering local communities set on improving local connectivity.

We’ve been following the development of the bill, introduced by Assembly Member Ed Chau, since early this year when it began to make its way through committee. Christopher went to California in May to testify in support of the bill at a hearing of the Assembly Communications and Conveyance Committee.

Easing the Way for Rural Communities

AB 1999 focuses on the responsibilities and authority of community service districts (CSDs), created to provide necessary services. CSDs are independent local governments usually formed by residents in unincorporated areas for the purpose of providing the kinds of services city-dwellers often take for granted: water and wastewater management, trash collection, fire protection, etc. In keeping with the ability to raise funds for these services, CSDs have the authority to create enhanced infrastructure financing districts (EIFDs). CSDs are allowed to use EIFDs to fund development of Internet access infrastructure in the same way they would sewer infrastructure, or convert overhead utilities to underground, or other projects that deal with infrastructure and are in the public interest.

Prior to the adoption of AB 1999, however, a CSD would first have to engage in a process to determine that no person or entity was willing to provide Internet access before the CSD could offer it to premises. Additionally, if a private sector entity came along after the infrastructure was deployed and expressed a willingness to do so, the CSD had no choice by law but to sell or lease the infrastructure they had developed rather than operate it themselves.

With the passage of AB 1999, CSDs no longer need to adhere to those strict requirements.

When the California State Legislature chose to pass the...

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Posted September 24, 2018 by lgonzalez

The next event attracting broadband, tech, and policy experts is coming up in October in Ontario, California. The 2018 Broadband Communities Economic Development Conference, titled “Fiber For The New Economy,” is set for October 23rd - 25th at the DoubleTree by Hilton Hotel Ontario Airport.

Register now and, if you qualify, receive a special Government Rate for your hotel. A special block of rooms are reserved for conference attendees until October 1st.

View the agenda to see all the details about the program.

Keeping Up With Ontario and More

Speakers and panel participants will examine what’s happening in urban and rural areas, including municipal projects, work by cooperatives, and partnerships. Scott Ochoa, Ontario’s City Manager, will deliver the Welcome Keynote address to be followed by a panel discussion about the city’s fiber network and how community leaders are using it to advance economic development. BBC Mag’s Masha Zager will lead the panel.

Authors James and Deborah Fallows will provide a Keynote address and Christopher will participate in the Blue Ribbon Session along with Dr. Nicol Turner-Lee from the Brookings Institution and Will Rhinehart from the American Action Forum. Along with panel leader Lev Gonick, CIO from Arizona State University, they’ll discuss some of the top issues that link high-quality connectivity to economic development, jobs, and digital inclusion. We expect to see a lively debate at this panel discussion.

Later in the conference, Christopher will also be participating in other conversations, including heading up a panel on the increasing activity of cooperatives and how they're bringing broadband to rural areas.

So Much, So Many Smart People

For the next three days, attendees will be able to select from a range of discussions and presentations, such as:

  • Funding sources
  • Healthcare and broadband
  • Encouraging entrepreneurs
  • Cooperatives and deployment
  • 5G
  • Real estate and fiber optic networks
  • Business models
  • Partnerships

Check out the rest of the agenda...

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Posted August 30, 2018 by lgonzalez

Shortly after Republican FCC Commissioners repealed federal network neutrality protections late in 2017, state lawmakers began introducing legislation to protect their constituents. California’s AB 1999, introduced as one possible antidote to the FCC failure in judgment, passed the General Assembly on August 29th and is on its way to Governor Jerry Brown.

Read the final version of the bill and the Legislative Counsel Digest here.

Let the People Serve the People

As local communities have investigated ways to protect themselves from throttling, paid prioritization, and other activities no longer banned, they’ve looked at investing in publicly owned infrastructure. Rural communities where national Internet service providers are less motivated to deploy have always struggled to attract investment from the same large companies known to violate network neutrality tenets. Assembly Member Ed Chau’s AB 1999 addresses rural communities’ need for better connectivity, solutions that can preserve network neutrality, and challenges in funding broadband infrastructure.

California’s community service districts (CSDs) are independent local governments created by folks in unincorporated areas. CDSs provide services that would otherwise be provided by a municipality. Residents usually join together to form a CSD and do so to establish services such as water and wastewater management, garbage collection, fire protection, or similar services. A CSD also has the ability to create an enhanced infrastructure financing district (EIFD) in order to finance the development of a broadband network.

The EIFD statute granting the authority allows communities, including CSDs, to join together regional projects for a range of financing purposes. Tax Increment Financing (TIF) and various bonding mechanisms are a few examples.

The law currently on the books, which AB 1999 will change, requires CSDs to first determine that no private entity or person is willing to offer broadband in their sector before they are allowed to invest to do so. If they manage to get past the requirement but an entity or person enters the picture and is willing to provide those services, the...

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Posted August 21, 2018 by lgonzalez

Communities who want the best for their citizens typically recognize the importance of digital equity and often take steps to develop digital inclusion programs. Last year on the podcast, we invited folks from the ISP Monkeybrains to explain how they were working with the city of San Francisco to develop a way to provide high-speed connectivity to residents living in several public housing facilities. We decided it was time to share the details of their model so other communities could consider their approach as a workable plan. Our summer Public Policy Intern Hannah Rank took on the task of writing a detailed report about the project. This week, she sat down with Christopher to offer a preview of what she’s learned.

In addition to an outline about the history of ISP Monkebrains and where they obtained additional funding for the project, Christopher and Hannah discuss the pros and cons of the California Advanced Services Fund (CASF). They discuss how a smart digital inclusion program as part of such a plan to offer broadband to lower-income households can help those enrolled and help keep overall costs down. 

Be sure to look for the release of our report this fall to learn more details about how San Francisco and Monkeybrains are bringing better connectivity to public housing to help residents participate in the digital economy. Until then, you can learn more about Monkeybrains and the plan by listening to episode 264 of the podcast.

We want your feedback and suggestions for the show-please e-mail us or leave a comment below.

This show is 32 minutes long and can be played on this page or via iTunes or the tool of your choice using this feed.

You can download this mp3 file directly from here. Listen to other episodes here or view all episodes in our index.

Read the...

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Posted August 1, 2018 by Hannah Rank

The city of Santa Monica’s efforts to shrink the digital divide ranks as one of the Top 25 Programs in American Government of 2017. That’s according to Harvard University’s Ash Center for Democratic Governance and Innovation, who names the top programs in governance based on innovation in government policy. 

Santa Monica’s award-winning Digital Inclusion pilot program targeted broadband access efforts by connecting ten affordable housing units with high-speed Internet, along with tech training and education. According to the Santa Monica Daily Press, the city received nearly $2 million in seed money from a U.S. Housing and Urban Development Community Development Block Grant to start to fund the efforts. So far the program has given 10 buildings access to free gigabit-speed Internet access in the communal areas, with in-unit gigabit capability for $48 a month; the program has since started expanding to 29 other affordable housing complexes.

Here’s what the city’s community broadband manager had to say about the program in the Daily Press article:

“Our community’s experience is shattering the antiquated notion of broadband, technology and tech education as a luxury,” said Gary Carter, the City’s Community Broadband Manager. “Residents are providing indisputable evidence of an ability and willingness to participate in civic innovation. Taking care of our most vulnerable first, sets a higher bar and we accept the challenge.”

This isn’t the first time the city has gotten recognition for its approach to getting Internet to its residents. Its municipal broadband, Santa Monica City Net, has won numerous awards, including the same Harvard Ash Center Top 25 Programs prize back in 2011.

We’ve written about City Net, the deployment, and the many benefits. We've also...

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Posted July 10, 2018 by lgonzalez

Death, taxes, and legislative drama are three of life’s certainties. Most recently, the drama unfolded in California as Democratic Sen. Scott Wiener has tried to pass state network neutrality protections after the FCC revoked federal law, leaving millions at the mercy of a broken market.

Coulda, Shoulda, Woulda

California is one of a long list of states that have in some way addressed the current lack of regulations regarding network neutrality. In addition to Executive Orders in six states, including Vermont and Montana, state legislatures in 29 states have introduced legislation that address some aspect of network neutrality. Oregon, Vermont, and Washington have adopted legislation. To see a comprehensive list of state bills across the country, check out the National Conference of State Legislatures’ website.

Wiener’s  SB 822 had been described as “the most comprehensive” of state legislation introduced since FCC Chairman Ajit Pai and the Republican Commissioners repealed federal network neutrality late last year. The bill passed in the Senate in late May, but amendments adopted during a contentious Communications and Conveyance Committee meeting in the Assembly transformed it into quite a different piece of legislation.

When the bill was at full strength in the Senate, it received the support of network neutrality advocates, including former FCC Chairman Tom Wheeler and the state’s Attorney General Xavier Becerra. Mayors from some of California’s largest cities have also endorsed SB 822. While the bill implemented the types of protections that past federal network neutrality provided, such as prohibiting paid prioritization and allowing equal access to all traffic on the Internet, SB 822 in its original form created additional protections. For example, the bill...

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Posted June 27, 2018 by Hannah Bonestroo

The City of Oxnard, California recently selected a private broadband consulting agency to assist in creating a Fiber Master Plan for developing a citywide high-speed fiber optic network. The city announced a request for proposal for a Fiber Master Plan in 2017 after leadership realized that access to affordable and reliable citywide high-speed fiber-optic broadband would be crucial to economic development. The new plan will bring gigabit-speed internet to the city of 208,000 and help achieve the city’s goal of becoming a “Tech” city. 

Situated along the coast of southern California, about an hour northwest of Los Angles, Oxnard is the largest city in Ventura County. They're about 35 miles south of Santa Barbara and home to a thriving international port, the Port of Hueneme, which travels between San Francisco, Los Angeles, and other Pacific Rim communities. The community is known as the largest strawberry producer and as a center for manufacturing.

“Tech” City

The existing 35-mile fiber-optic network in Oxnard is primarily used to connect traffic signals and city facilities and presents only limited opportunities for other community purposes. The new plan will inventory the city’s current assets and create a roadmap for building a broadband network that will fill in the gaps.

One of the main goals of the plan is to turn Oxnard into a “tech city.” A city’s ability to compete increasingly depends on the technologies it offers. The latest technology developments, including Smart City initiatives, artificial intelligence, and the Internet of Things, demand high-powered connections from both home and office. Citywide fiber-optic will enable Oxnard to deploy these new apps, such as public Wi-Fi, and compete with neighboring communities.

A Lasting Impact

Besides economic growth, the city hopes that the the new fiber-optic network will also produce educational and other social benefits. Additionally, the network is expected to generate a return on investment and eventually contribute to the city’s general fund. 

Oxnard is just one...

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Posted June 15, 2018 by lgonzalez

In response to the FCC’s decision to end federal network neutrality protections, California and other states have introduced bills to fill the gap left by the Commission. Local communities who had flirted with the idea of publicly owned Internet infrastructure in the past have now taken a second and more serious look to counteract the FCC’s harmful policy shift. Assembly Member Ed Chau’s AB 1999, making its way through the legislative process, is opening possibilities for local communities to invest in their own Internet infrastructure. Chau recognizes that publicly owned networks are an option for more than network neutrality protections, especially in rural communities.

Attitude Adjustment

Our Christopher Mitchell travelled to California in May to testify about the bill as it worked its way through the committee process. AB 1999 could indicate that big telephone and cable companies now have less influence in state Capitols around the U.S. than in past years. We recently wrote about a New Hampshire bill that gives us similar hope — a piece of legislation signed by the Governor there that removed restrictions on local investment in broadband networks.

Like New Hampshire's SB 170, AB 1999 allows communities where big national providers don’t want to invest have more control over how they improve local connectivity. If passed, the bill will give California's community service districts the ability to develop public broadband networks and offer services. The language of the bill also requires that any networks developed by community service districts adhere to network neutrality rules.

Rural Communities Serving Themselves

Community service districts (CSD) are independent local governments created to provide services in unincorporated areas of a county. CSDs are...

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