Tag: "christopher mitchell"

Posted May 4, 2018 by lgonzalez

We want to send out a special “thank you” to the Coalition for Local Internet Choice (CLIC) for choosing our Community Broadband Networks Initiative to receive the 2018 National Organization of the Year Award.

Christopher accepted the award on behalf of the team at the 2018 Broadband Communities Summit in Austin, Texas, earlier this week. Rachel Ellner snapped this pic of Christopher with CEO Joanne Hovis and President Jim Baller from CLIC.

 

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We feel honored to have received this award and want to thank CLIC for the recognition of our team and for all their work in advancing local self-reliance.

 

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Posted April 27, 2018 by lgonzalez

Is it here already?! Next week is the 2018 Broadband Communities Summit in Austin, Texas. Will you be there? You can still register online for the the event; this year the discussions will concentrate on FIBER: Putting your Gigs To Work.

Check out the agenda for all the scheduled panels, lectures, and discussions.

There's still time to get there so you can see Christopher and other experts, such as Jim Baller, Joanne Hovis, Catharine Rice, and Deb Socia. This is an opportunity to ask experts the questions you've been pondering and hear opinions from different perspectives in the industry.

On May 1st at 3p.m., Christopher will be part of the "Economic Development Track Blue Ribbon Panel" along with Nicol Turner-Lee, Ph.D., from the Center for Technology Innovation Brookings Institution and Will Rhinehart, Director of Technology and Innovation Policy at the American Action Forum. Lev Gonick, CIO from Arizona State University, will be leading the discussion.

Look for Christopher to participate in other discussions and sit in on other panels. You can also check out who else will be speaking at the Summit; it’s a long list that covers a broad range of expertise.

If you're able to arrive by April 30th, you can make the Coalition for Local Internet Choice Special Program (CLIC). CLIC will to bring community leaders from different organizations and entities across the U.S. to discuss the growing importance of local authority. There will be a panel discussion on local authority and preemption featuring a talk about Westminster and their award winning partnership with Ting Internet. Christopher will also be part of the CLIC program - look for him.

The Summit only comes around once a year and it's a great time to get caught up and connect with new people. So much has happened in the past year, it will be a challenge to take it all in, but you'll definitely have fun trying.

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Posted April 24, 2018 by lgonzalez

We’re a little off kilter these days when it comes to state legislation. Typically, we spend our efforts helping local communities stave off bills to steal, limit, or hamstring local telecommunications authority. This year it’s different so Christopher and Lisa sat down to have a brief chat about some of the notable state actions that have been taken up at state Capitols.

We decided to cover a few proposals that we feel degrade the progress some states have made, bills that include positive and negative provisions, and legislation that we think will do nothing but good. Our analysis covers the map from the states in New England to states in the Northwest. 

In addition to small changes that we think will have big impact - like the definition of “broadband” - we discuss the way tones are shifting. In a few places, like Colorado, state leaders are fed up with inaction or obstruction from the big ISPs that use the law to solidify their monopoly power rather than bring high-quality connectivity to citizens. Other states, like New Hampshire and Washington, recognize that local communities have the ability to improve their situation and are taking measured steps to reduce barriers to broadband deployment.

While they still maintain significant power in many places, national corporate ISPs may slowly be losing their grip over state legislators. We talk about that, too.

For more on these and other bills, check out our recent stories on state and federal legislation.

This show is 24 minutes long and can be played on this page or via iTunes or the tool of your choice using this feed.

Read the transcript for this show here.

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

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Posted April 9, 2018 by lgonzalez

Spring refuses to appear here in Minnesota, home of ILSR’s Community Broadband Networks Initiative team. The lingering snow and ice makes the 2018 Broadband Communities Summit seem super nice — it will be located in warm, sunny Austin. You can still register online for the opportunity to attend the event; this year’s theme is FIBER: Putting your Gigs To Work.

The program has been taking shape as new panelists and topics have been added to the agenda for the 4-day event.

As usual, Christopher will be at the event to answer questions, direct conversations, and tackle both new and persisting issues that relate to connectivity. On May 1st at 3p.m., he’ll be presenting as part of the "Economic Development Track Blue Ribbon Panel" along with Nicol Turner-Lee, Ph.D., from the Center for Technology Innovation Brookings Institution and Will Rhinehart, Director of Technology and Innovation Policy at the American Action Forum. Lev Gonick, CIO from Arizona State University, will be leading the discussion.

Later that day, Christopher will also be leading a panel titled "Creating a Tech Ecosystem," which brings together community leaders from different areas of the country who discuss the elements that complement broadband infrastructure. They have a conversation that includes supporting start-ups, developing a tech workforce, investors, incubators, accelerators and youth/adult tech programs. 

Look for Christopher to participate in other discussions and sit in on other panels. You can also check out who else will be speaking at the Summit; it’s a long list that covers a broad range of expertise.

So Many Topics

A few of the other topics that will be tossed around by the long list of presenters include:

  • Electric Cooperatives
  • Open Access
  • IoT
  • MDUs
  • Rural Broadband

Topics are organized into tracks, so if you're attending the Summit in search of answers related to a specific area, it's easier to organize your day. If you're interests are broader, you may have a hard time deciding which panels and discussions to attend.

CLIC Special Program

The first day of the event, the Coalition for Local Internet Choice (CLIC)...

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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...

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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...

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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...

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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...

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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:

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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.

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