Tag: "economic development"

Posted February 8, 2019 by lgonzalez

April will be here before you know it, and with the spring comes the 2019 Broadband Communities Summit. This year’s event will be held in Austin, Texas, April 8th - 11th at the Renaissance Hotel. The theme is “Fiber: Putting Your Gigs To Work.”

Register online for the event and check out the agenda.

Special CLIC Program

As in prior years, the Coalition for Local Internet Choice (CLIC) will host a special program during the afternoon of the first day of the summit. “An Action Plan for Local Internet Choice in 2019 and Beyond” will focus on the policies, the politics, and the people that can lead to better connectivity for local communities.

CLIC will host three panel discussions that address federal developments, the FCC’s Broadband Deployment Advisory Committee (BDAC), and nonpartisan approaches to managing the politics of local broadband initiatives. Christopher will speak on this last panel that aims to address lessons learned and recommend strategies that have worked to bring better connectivity to local communities.

Read more about the CLIC program.

Christopher will also appear on panels addressing economic development, including “Broadband at the Crossroads: Our Experts Weigh In.” He’ll also moderate “Lessons Learned From Turn-Around Communities,” a panel that will host Dan Patten from MINET and David Post from Salisbury, North Carolina.

Susan Crawford Keynote

If you haven’t yet read Susan’s latest book, you still have plenty of time before April’s summit. On April 11th, she will deliver the Keynote Address to discuss her findings as she researched for Fiber: The Coming Tech Revolution — And Why America Might Miss It:

That’s the title of fiber broadband champion and Harvard Law School professor Susan Crawford’s...

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Posted December 18, 2018 by lgonzalez

Many of our regular listeners will recognize this week’s guest voice. Craig Settles has been operating as an industry analyst and consultant since 2006. He’s also host of the Gigabit Nation radio talk show and Director of Communities United for Broadband.

In recent years, Craig has focused much of his attention on telehealth and the ways communities large and small can use their broadband infrastructure to implement telehealth applications. The ability to use high-quality connectivity to deliver healthcare has expanded as access to broadband and innovation has increased. Craig describes the ways “telemedicine” has evolved into “telehealth.” In this discussion, Craig and Christopher discuss the ways that telehealth positively impact residents and their healthcare providers. Communities are also discovering that access to online medical care and related applications can spur economic development in rural and urban settings.

While exploring different approaches to implementing telehealth via publicly owned infrastructure, Craig also discovered some of the challenges facing local communities. In this conversation, he and Christopher talk about some of the different issues that may arise and how local communities have addressed those issues. He also has words of advice for those who want to be sure to develop infrastructure that is capable of providing the kind of connectivity that can provide this increasingly critical feature. Craig has some suggestions for resources for people interested in learning more and for local communities also interested in making telehealth a widely available service.

Check out more...

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Posted December 14, 2018 by Hannah Bonestroo

After building out the community of 7,500 residents at the end of 2017, Fairlawn, Ohio, began expanding its municipal broadband service beyond city limits through a collaboration with the Medina County Fiber Network (MCFN). In June 2018, FairlawnGig became the only municipal Internet access provider on the dark fiber network, which offers connectivity in the region, including in the Akron metropolitan area.

Ernie Staten, Fairlawn’s Deputy Director of Public service, stated that FairlawnGig is “thrilled to take [its] services beyond city limits to help regional organizations achieve business goals only obtainable with robust broadband service.” The newly formed Bounce Innovation Hub, located in the former B.F. Goodrich Plant in downtown Akron, is one such organization that will soon take advantage of the expansion. In early December, Bounce announced a partnership with FairlawnGig that will bring gigabit speed Internet access to its building that houses entrepreneurial and creative organizations.

Growing a Globally Competitive Region

In the little over a year since the creation of FairlawnGig, home values in Fairlawn have increased eight and a half percent. FairlawnGig now serves over 2,000 subscribers and 500 businesses in Fairlawn and more enterprises are choosing to locate in...

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Posted December 11, 2018 by lgonzalez

By the time a local community is ready to light up their municipal fiber optic network, they’ve already invested several years' worth of debate, investigation, and energy. While deploying a network is certainly a complicated task, educating the community, growing support, and helping elected officials determine the best approach is equally difficult. What’s it like in the early stages for those visionaries who feel that their city or town needs a publicly owned option?

This week we find out from Chicopee’s Joel McAuliffe, Councilor for Ward 1. He’s been advocating for a municipal broadband network for several years and his message is growing. In addition to working to educate his fellow council members about the need for local high-speed Internet access, Joel has reached out to folks in the community. Last fall, he encouraged citizens to sign an online petition supporting the proposal and to contact their elected officials to urge them to move forward on the matter.

Joel describes how the city has certain advantages that he’d like capitalize on for a citywide fiber network. He talks about local concerns that are driving the effort, such as high rates and poor services, and that with a municipal network to offer competition, he believes Chicopee can attract new business and new residents from the Boston area. Chris and Joel also discuss the challenges for a city council in making decisions based on technology when they are not well-versed in those technologies.

When Joel introduced his petition to the community, he also published this...

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Posted December 11, 2018 by lgonzalez

As they look back over their accomplishments, the Roanoke Valley Broadband Authority (RVBA) has more than the holidays to celebrate at the close of 2018. In addition to stimulating competition in the region, the RVBA network is attracting more investment and helping local nonprofits operate more efficiently.

Dual Purpose

For Feeding America Southwest Virginia in Salem, connectivity from RVBA is critical. “Without that Internet connection reliability, it would be very difficult for us to achieve our mission,” says IT Director Eric Geist. The food bank is one of the enterprise customers that the RVBA serves in the region, providing affordable access to organizations and institutions such as nonprofits, businesses, and institutions.

By providing affordable connectivity and services focused on the needs of businesses, the RVBA network has helped drive competition in the region. According to CEO Frank Smith’s research, prices have dropped 25 - 30 percent. The change squares with the RVBA mission to enhance and promote economic development by improving connectivity services and prices in Salem, Roanoke, and the counties of Roanoke and Botetourt. They've seen results in the past three years with greater expectations ahead.

The History

Before the network, the valley was caught in a connectivity “donut hole.” The populations in Salem and Roanoke had access to some cable Internet access and were large enough to prevent the region from obtaining grants to entice providers to upgrade. In 2013, local governments decided to work together to improve connectivity and funded a feasibility study, which recommended an open access network.

roanoke-valley-va_1.jpg Botetourt and Roanoke Counties were indecisive about their commitment to the project, but the cities of Salem and Roanoke pushed ahead. Salem, with its own electric utility, already had some fiber infrastructure in place, which lowered the cost of the...

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Posted October 22, 2018 by lgonzalez

Breckenridge was among the list of Colorado communities that voted to opt out of the state’s restrictive SB 152 back in 2016. Now, they’re ready to move forward with design and construction of an open access network. As the resort town prepares to begin work on their fiber infrastructure, several other communities will ask voters to opt out of SB 152 on November 6th.

To the Voters

As we reported in August, Aurora, Cañon City, the town of Florence, and Fremont County had already made plans to put the opt out question on their local ballots. Since then, we’ve discovered that that at least six other local governments want voters to address SB 152.

In Salida, where the town needed to fill a vacated office without delay, community leaders chose to hold their election in September and put the issue on the ballot. The measure to opt out passed with 85 percent of the vote.

Voters will also decide of their towns or counties should reclaim local telecommunications authority in the towns of Fountain and Erie along with Chaffee County and Kiowa County. Over the past several years, more than 120 local communities have asked voters to opt out of SB 152 and local referendums overwhelmingly passed. Many local communities have presented the issue to voters with no specific plans in mind, but do so in order to keep their options open and because they feel that Denver is less qualified than they are in making decisions related to local connectivity.

The Fremont Economic Development Corporation (FEDC) has reached out to voters, urging them to approve the measure with a "yes" vote. The fact that SB 152 still hangs like cloud over the region prevents them from obtaining grant funding to boost economic development.

"We would like to vote to authorize our municipalities to be able to become involved because there is a lot of money out there that is available for the purpose of building infrastructure, but it has to be done through the governmental agency," [Executive Director of the FEDC] said. "We put our shoulder to the wheel on this because we see broadband as a critical element of economic development, as critical in many cases as...

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Posted October 9, 2018 by lgonzalez

In September, Reedsburg Utility Commission (RUC) in Wisconsin announced that they’re simplifying life for subscribers. They’ve eliminated service tiers and now everyone who signs up for the service receives affordable, symmetrical gigabit Internet access from their recently rebranded LightSpeed service.

Rebranding, Redefining Fast and Affordable

Back in May, RUC decided that they would renew their efforts at marketing by launching the new LightSpeed brand. At that time, they were already signing up new customers for the great gigabit deal, which translated into prices as low as $44.95 per month for 1,000 Megabits per second (Mbps or one gigabit) when purchased as part of a bundle. RUC also offers voice and video.

RUC has been offering Internet access to Reedsburg’s approximately 10,000 people since 2002. In 2014, they were the first in Wisconsin to offer gigabit connectivity. Over the past 16 years, they've expanded into different areas around the city in order to share the benefits of the network.

Growing That Gig

With the new gigabit offering to all, Reedsburg will venture out to two new areas. They received two grants from the state to expand to the Village of Spring Green and the Town of Delton.

logo-Lightspeed-Reedsburg-small.jpg In Spring Green, located about 30 miles due south of Reedsburg, town officials have been working with the RUC to obtain the funding to bring high-quality Internet access to town. The grant will help fund the first phase of the project, which will bring better connectivity to several community anchor institutions, the school district, and multiple government facilities. In bringing LightSpeed to Spring Green, approximately more than 260 residential and 35 commercial premises will also have access to fiber.

Lake Delton, which is south of the Village of Delton,...

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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 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 29, 2018 by lgonzalez

FiberNET, the municipal fiber network serving Morristown, Tennessee, has been serving the community since 2006 with fast, affordable, reliable Fiber-to-the-Home service. FiberNET is one of those networks that quietly went about its business bringing top notch services for residents, businesses, and institutions without a lot of fanfare. If you don’t live or work in the area or follow developments in broadband policy and implementation, you may not be familiar with Morristown’s FiberNET.

Now is your chance to learn more.

The community has produced a short, high-quality film about the network and the many ways it enhances living in Morristown for residents, businesses, and local entities. Business leaders describe how the network has enhanced and advanced their operations. Jody Wigington, who we’ve hosted on the Community Broadband Bits podcast, describes how the schools and local institutions have access to a network to rival any connections available in urban areas.

What’s the best part, in his opinion?

“We’re not-for-profit and locally owned. So FiberNET was built for the people through the vision of community leaders. And remember, FiberNET provides local jobs for the community and our employees are are part of the fabric of life in the Lakeway Region.”

Check it out:

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