Tag: "christopher mitchell"

Posted February 23, 2018 by lgonzalez

Iowa communities have invested in local municipal networks for decades. Across their state map sits rural communities where local residents and businesses can connect to high-quality Internet access that rivals urban centers. On March 20th - 22nd, two separate events in Iowa will celebrate local efforts to improve broadband.

Community Broadband Summit 2018

On March 20th at the Des Moines Holiday Inn and Suites:

The Community Broadband Summit brings together community leaders and activists from across the Midwest who want better broadband for their communities.

At the Summit, you'll learn how to advance community broadband from concept to reality and hear from people who've actually built and operated community networks. From referendum campaigns to feasibility to implementation, the Summit will help your efforts locally to take control of your community's technological future. 

There is no fee to attend the Summit and you can register online

Some of the topics to be explored include:

  • Organizing a Citizen Campaign
  • Steps Toward Municipal Broadband
  • Basics of Fiber Networks
  • Financing
  • Partnerships

You can view the full agenda here.

Six local Iowa communities, Belmond, Charles City, New Hampton, Maquoketa, Vinton, and Adair are considering or working toward municipal networks and are coming together for the event. Learn more about efforts in the communities and check out the resources they’ve collected to share at the Summit website.

IAMU 2018 Broadband Conference

The 8th Annual Iowa Association of Municipal Utilities 2018 Broadband Conference falls on the heels of the Summit and will also be located at the Des Moines Holiday Inn. The event starts with breakfast at 7:30 a.m. on Wednesday, March 21st and includes several tracks that primarily address leadership issues for telecommunications utilities. Christopher will be speaking at the conference, which he always describes as one of his favorite annual events.

At this year’s conference, we’ll have a track of concurrent sessions focused on leadership... Read more

Posted January 24, 2018 by lgonzalez

Chairman Ajit Pai and the Republican FCC Commissioners voted last December to end network neutrality protections, but many local and state elected officials and their many constituents did not support the decision. Suddenly, decision makers began seeking alternative approaches to ensuring an open Internet without fast or slow lanes. This week, Montana took the initiative by using an executive order to bar ISPs from entering into state contracts if those ISPs don't practice network neutrality.

Read the full Montana Executive Order here.

Update: The State of New York is taking similar steps. Read more below.

Executive Order

While 22 states have taken legal action against the Commission to stop the December 14, 2017 repeal, Montana is using state power to protect its 1.043 million citizens rather than wait for the court to decide. On Monday, Governor Steve Bullock signed an executive order while visiting his former high school’s computer science class.

“There has been a lot of talk around the country about how to respond to the recent decision by Federal Communications Commission to repeal net neutrality rules, which keep the Internet free and open. It’s time to actually do something about it. This is a simple step states can take to preserve and protect net neutrality. We can’t wait for folks in Washington DC to come to their senses and reinstate these rules.” 

Montana currently contracts with several ISPs, including CenturyLink, AT&T, and Charter; state contracts come to about $50 million. The executive order requires the state’s Department of Administration to develop policies and guidance by March 1st. In order to enter into a new contract with the state for the new fiscal year that starts on July 1st, ISPs must not:

1. Block lawful content, applications, services, or... Read more

Posted December 28, 2017 by lgonzalez

Local investigative news shows often earn a reputation for digging into scams and rip-offs that pick consumers’ pockets. In a recent WLOS News 13 Investigates segment, Western North Carolina’s ABC affiliate started asking some tough questions about Frontier’s Internet access service in rural parts of the state.

A Comedy Of Errors

At the heart of the rip-off in this investigation is Frontier’s habit of advertising speeds that it cannot provide. The WLOS crew traveled to a home in a mountainous area of the region to visit Craig Marble, who moved from D.C., and works from home in the tech field. “It's just a comedy of errors except that it's not funny. It takes five minute to load a single webpage,” Marble said.

Marble discussed how he has paid for service of up to three Mbps download but he has never, to his knowledge, been able to obtain even that slow speed. As far as he’s concerned, he should at least be able to get what he’s paying for every month.

“This should be 3.0, not .3,” Marble said. He showed News 13 various speed tests for his service, they came up .3 and .5, and .6 at various times throughout the morning and afternoon.

Complaints, Complaints, Complaints

According to News 13, numerous complaints against Frontier resonate through local conversation. The station had received other complaints from people, some reporting that their Internet access works about 60 percent of the time. When they followed up with the Attorney General, they learned of 56 complaints filed against Frontier, about half due to issues with slow speeds.

WLOS spoke to Christopher about big telecom’s tendency to advertise “up to” speeds:

“If you can get good speeds in the middle of the night, but not during the day, I think that's deceptive advertising to be suggesting to people that they can get those speeds,” said Christopher Mitchell, director of Community Broadband Networks at the Institute for Local Self-Reliance in Minnesota.

Mitchell says, companies shouldn't advertise what they can't offer.

“This is not something that is beyond the ability of the company to solve, this is a decision that they're making which is to market a service that they cannot deliver or are willing to deliver on reasonable terms,” said... Read more

Posted December 21, 2017 by lgonzalez

As 2017 comes to a close, please consider donating to the Institute for Local Self-Reliance. Your donation helps us continue the important work of raising the profile of broadband networks that are accountable to communities rather than shareholders. Go to ilsr.org/donate.

As he reflected on 2017, Christopher shared his thoughts:

I know you've heard that the FCC repealed network neutrality on December 14th. We find this extremely disappointing, but take solace in the fact that communities with their own networks will face the least harm by the decision.

We aren't mourning. We are back in the office with an even greater dedication to community networks.  Listening to the Commissioners in the majority -- who just finished working for the big monopolies or will go on to lobbying jobs with those companies or both -- pretend that they are helping small businesses made my heart pound. 

A little more than 10 years ago, I began working here at ILSR to help communities thrive in spite of the big monopolies and crony capitalism in D.C. Two years ago, my wife and I had our first child. The last two years left me really tired at times. Worn out. Burned out.

No more. I'm revitalized! I'm ready for another 10 years of helping community after community regain control of its future. The list of interested communities is growing faster than it ever has before.

We have a great team here, doing great & unique research. We made the first map of rural cooperative fiber networks. We dug into FCC data and found that 100 million Americans can get broadband only from the four big monopolies that have a history of violating net neutrality (AT&T, Verizon, Charter, and Comcast). And we mapped where they all live. This work gives me hope.

We need your help to keep it up. Please donate and keep us going. Spread our work around and rate our podcasts so more people will find us. Any donation amount helps - knowing that you care enough to give us material support will help to keep us energized in the tough days ahead

We... Read more

Posted December 20, 2017 by lgonzalez

It wasn’t long after FCC Chairman Ajit Pai and the other Republicans on the Commission rescinded network neutrality protections that murmurs began to rise about the future role of municipal networks. Soon, journalists reporting on tech issues began contacting us for comment about the intersection between network neutrality and publicly owned Internet network infrastructure.

The day after the FCC decision, Christopher appeared on This Week in Enterprise Tech (TWiET) with Fr. Robert Ballecer for episode 269, “After Net Neutrality.” Christopher’s segment of the show starts at around 14:16 and finishes around 44:22. Fr. Ballecer comments that, while municipal networks were of interest in the past, now that network neutrality protections have been revoked, they are a more urgent possibility.

Christopher shared some of the data we’ve discovered that reveals how very little competition actually exists, even though the FCC uses market protection as a crutch for dismantling network neutrality. The guys also discuss local franchises and how they helped to encourage deployment, limits to local franchises that exist in certain states, and existing telecommunications monopolies.

Even though municipal networks typically adopt policies that adhere to network neutrality standards, there remains a question of what will happen when those network connect to the middle mile, often controlled by companies known to by network neutrality violators. The hosts and Christopher speculate on whether or not publicly owned networks can create the competition needed to put the big companies on their best behavior. They also get into wireless vs. mobile vs. fiber and the struggle to accept the need for complements. Christopher offered some tips on ways to initiate a grassroots movement for a muni network initiative and creative early steps to situate a community favorably for a future network.

Check out the conversation:

... Read more

Posted December 12, 2017 by lgonzalez

As the FCC’s vote on whether or not to remove network neutrality draws near, an increasing number of people are beginning to wonder how Internet access will change for them. Journalists have reached out to us to ask about the role of publicly owned Internet networks and the future without federal network neutrality policy protections. Molly Wood from Marketplace Tech interviewed Christopher to ask about the pros and cons of munis, how the FCC vote could affect municipal networks, and how municipal networks may help when or if we face an Internet no longer protected by network neutrality.

Wood asked some general questions about munis and their cost, and Christopher offered some specific examples from information we’ve learned from the communities we study. Now that big ISPs are set to receive the keys to the kingdom, local leaders wonder if they can take steps to avoid the pitfalls of unfettered power.

Christopher told Molly:

The only way that [ending network neutrality] would help cities and people more generally is that it would lead to more cities considering this and cities being more aggressive because the big cable and telephone companies would likely abuse their new power. But the Internet will still be there behind the scenes and cities can build their own apps and get around the barriers that the big cable and telephone companies are producing.

Listen here or at the Marketplace website.

Posted October 25, 2017 by lgonzalez

There’s still time to register and make your plans to attend the Fiber for the New Economy: Economic Development Conference presented by Broadband Communities Magazine. A fall trip to Atlanta on November 7 - 9 will include workshops, a range of economic development discussions, and the opportunity to view a new film on the broadband struggle in Pinetops, North Carolina.

There will be panel discussions and/or workshops on:

  • Financial modeling for community networks, CAF II, and other funding sources
  • Smart City and IoT initiatives
  • Rural communities, jobs, attracting entrepreneurs, and connectivity
  • Fiber and gigabit connectivity and their impact on local jobs, education, and residential access
  • State legislative efforts to improve connectivity and federal policies
  • Electric Cooperatives and connectivity
  • TV White Spaces, 5G, small cell deployment
  • Cooperative efforts between economic development and broadband experts
  • Latest research on broadband, economic development, and investment
  • Marketing for broadband networks
  • Partnerships between the private and public sectors
  • Fiber connectivity and MDUs
  • Approaches to addressing and reducing the digital divide

Pass The Popcorn

As an added bonus, attendees will be able to screen Do Not Pass Go: The Battle For Broadband, a short documentary film about Pinetops, North Carolina. The community was able to obtain gigabit fiber optic service from Greenlight, the municipal network from nearby Wilson. Shortly after, an appellate court determined that Wilson was acting outside of state law, forcing the two communities to find another way for Pinetops to keep high-quality Internet access. Their situation is still uncertain.

Christopher will be participating on the "Broadband Champions Speak Out" panel at 10 a.m. on Nov. 8th and will also lead the panel on "Spawning an Entrepreneurial Ecosystem" at 2:30 p.m. on Nov. 9th.


If you’re able to come to the conference by Tuesday, November 7th, attend a special program offered by the Coalition for Local Internet Choice (CLIC). Members and leaders from CLIC will present updates on key legislative events, coping with misinformation, and the drive to... Read more

Posted October 9, 2017 by lgonzalez

You may not have been able to get to Ammon, Idaho, to attend the official lighting ceremony of the community’s open access fiber network. Perhaps you weren’t able to watch the stream to the event either; life is demanding and sometimes we just can’t fit everything into our day. But you can still watch the event at your own pace because we’ve broken down the presentations and panels for you.


Deb Socia (NCC) & Jeff Christensen (EntryPoint) Introduce Ammon Mayor Dana Kirkham :



Mayor Dana Kirkham :



State Senator Brent Hill :



Keynote: How Does the City of Tomorrow Get ‘Smart’? 

Glenn Ricart, Founder and CEO, US Ignite :



Panel - How do we make ‘smart cities’ a reality?


  • Glenn Ricart, Founder and CEO, US Ignite
  • Shawn Irvine, Economic Development Director, Independence, Oregon
  • Aarushi Sarbhai, Graduate Research Assistant, University of Utah
  • Jeff Peterson, CTO, EntryPoint Networks
  • Moderated by Deb Socia, Executive Director, Next Century Cities



Bobbi-Jo Meuleman, Chief Operations Officer, Idaho Department of Commerce :



Policy Discussion: Does government have a role to play? 

Christopher Mitchell, Director, Community Broadband Networks :


... Read more

Posted October 4, 2017 by lgonzalez

If you can’t make it to Ammon to attend the launch of the city’s ground breaking open access fiber network, you can still enjoy the festivities. The event will be livestreamed starting at 10:30 eastern at this link:


Ammon’s Mayor Deb Kirkham, State Senator Brent Hill, and even former FCC Chairman Tom Wheeler, in a video address, will share thoughts about the city’s pioneering infrastructure and what it means for this Idaho city of about 14,000 people. Christopher is in Ammon to celebrate with the community and speak on the significance of this local project.

If you need to brush up on Ammon’s software defined network (SDN) and the ways it has already improved life in the community, read our coverage before the event on October 5th. You can also take a few minutes to listen to episodes 259, episode 207, episode 173, and episode 86 of the Community Broadband Bits podcast to listen to conversations that describe the evolution of Ammon’s network.

Lastly, check out our video about the network and hear from the people in Ammon who are early adopters:

Posted September 28, 2017 by ChristopherBarich

The City of Ammon, Idaho, in partnership with Next Century Cities will host an event titled “The Launch of the Ammon Fiber Utility” to bring together representatives from Ammon and the region, policy and broadband experts, and key stakeholders to show off Ammon’s open access fiber network. 

The City’s open access fiber network, named 2016 Community Broadband Project of the Year by the National Association of Telecommunications Officers and Advisors (NATOA), is delivering gigabit connectivity to a community of 14,500 people.

The Launch of the Ammon Fiber Utility

The event will offer attendees the opportunity to hear more about the Ammon Model, learn how a conservative, rural town secured a high take rate, its software defined networking technologies (SDN), as well as a tour of its cutting edge facilities.

The full day event will take place Thursday, October 5, 2017, at the Ammon Operations Center and will include presenters from local government, nonprofit, and the private sector. In addition to Christopher, you can expect to see:

  • Glenn Ricart, Founder and CTO of US Ignite (Keynote)
  • Dana Kirkham, Mayor of Ammon
  • Bruce Patterson, Ammon CTO
  • Tom Wheeler, former FCC Chairman (video address)
  • Michael Curri, Founder and President, Strategic Network Group, Inc
  • Shawn Irvine, Economic Development Director, City of Independence, Oregon
  • Deb Socia, Executive Director, Next Century Cities

A Learning Experience

If you attend the conference, the morning program will start with keynote speakers and a series of panels:

Smart Cities Panel; researchers, developers, legal and policy experts will discuss current and future challenges.

Policy Discussion with Christopher Mitchell; on the role of government to solve the broadband challenges faced by communities utilizing historical experience inform future policy.

Economic Feasibility with Michael Curri; on community broadband... Read more


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