Tag: "infrastructure"

Posted November 7, 2019 by lgonzalez

Last week, we unveiled the new podcast project we're working on with the nonprofit NC Broadband Matters, whose focus is on bringing ubiquitous broadband coverage to local communities for residents and businesses in North Carolina. The ten episode podcast series, titled "Why NC Broadband Matters," explores broadband and related issues in North Carolina.

In episode two, “Fiber Rich Wilson, Why and What's Next?”, Christopher talks with Gene Scott, General Manager for Outside Plant for Greenlight, a division of the city of Wilson, North Carolina. If you've heard many of our podcasts, you know all about Wilson and their municipal Fiber-to-the-Home (FTTH) network. We've followed the development of the network for years and have reported on many of their innovations.

logo-nc-hearts-gig.png Gene gives us an inside perspective. He shares a brief history of the network's development and why the community chose to use an architecture that is fiber rich. Gene helps us to understand some terminology that most of us aren't familiar with unless we're in the field, and he gets into the many benefits of fiber over copper.

Christopher and Gene also discuss how Greenlight and the city have been working with the local community college to prepare more people to work in the growing industry. It isn't all climbing poles and hanging wires and the need for high-quality Internet access guarantees there's plenty of future opportunity in the public and private sectors.

To learn more about the story behind Wilson's Greenlight Community Network, check out our ...

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Posted August 26, 2019 by lgonzalez

In June, Governor JB Pritzker signed the Rebuild Illinois capital plan, a $45 billion effort that will repair and improve all manner of infrastructure in the state. Within the plan, state leaders intend to dedicate $420 million to upgrade and expand broadband infrastructure. Such a significant investment can make a real difference in the state, as long as decision makers adopt smart policies and allow local communities to receive funding for broadband projects.

Gas Tax for Gigabits

An increase in the state’s motor fuel tax will fund most of the broadband initiative. The increase in gas prices at the pump, which took effect on July 1, jumped from 19 to 38 cents. Similarly, a special fuels tax on diesel, liquefied natural gas, and propane increased from 2.5 cents to 5 cents. State analysts anticipate the increase will garner an additional $1.24 billion to state coffers in 2020.

The Rebuild Plan also grants state bonding authority for infrastructure projects and Cook County municipalities are permitted to raise their gas taxes by an additional three cents per gallon. There are also title and registration fees that will contribute to the fund.

As part of the plan, Illinois created the Connect Illinois initiative, which is part of the Illinois Department of Commerce. One of the goals of the initiative's Broadband Office is to provide all K-12 students with high-speed Internet access at no charge. As part of the Rebuild Illinois plan, $20 million will be used to update and expand the Illinois Century Network, which serves K-12 schools, colleges and universities, public libraries, and Internet access providers.

seal-illinois.pngConnect Illinois and the initiative’s Broadband Office will administer the grants made possible by the fuel tax increase. The office will also work to determine federal grants that are available and how best to access them to advance the state's goals.

Connectivity Council

In mid-August, Pritzker...

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Posted May 31, 2019 by lgonzalez

Before your community can start bringing better connectivity to municipal facilities, offering dark fiber to businesses or local ISPs, or supplying Internet access to residents, you must develop the infrastructure. In the past couple of years, a growing interest in microtrenching has spawned questions from local communities looking for options to traditional excavation. On May 1st, infrastructure product and system manufacturer and distributor Dura-Line held their first Technology Summit focused exclusively on microtrenching. The Austin, Texas, event attracted 200 professionals interested in learning more.

Special guest speakers included:

  • Dan Urban - Corbel Communications Industries, LLC
  • 
Chris Levendos - Crown Castle
  • Jed Zook - Douglas County PUD (Washington state)
  • Richard Thomas - Mayor of Mt. Vernon, NY

At the event, attendees were able to view a live demonstration of the step-by-step microtrenching process.

duraline-microtrenching-demo.png

 

As Dura-Line notes in their press release, increases in urbanization and the critical need for high-quality connectivity will continue to drive innovation for new deployment strategies. While microtrenching has had mixed results in places such as Louisville, other communities are working through issues and having success. In Washington, the Douglas County Community Network (DCCN) is using the deployment technique and making it pay off, after facing problems related to inclement weather.

Enthusiasm at the event has encouraged Dura-Line to consider planning for a second Summit. Tim Grimsley, Vice President of Global Customer Engagement said:

“We even had several people already asking about next year’s topic and location. Our goal for each Dura-Line Technology Summit is to educate people on the benefits, techniques, and best...

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Posted April 29, 2019 by lgonzalez

In mid-April, city leaders in Bozeman, Montana, passed Resolution No. 5031 to officially declare broadband essential infrastructure for the city. The declaration comports with the city’s long-term goal to bring high-quality connectivity throughout the community.

Read Resolution No. 5031 in its entirety here.

Pointing Out the Positives

In addition to describing the ways access to broadband has improved opportunities for residents and businesses, the language of the resolution lays out the steps Bozeman has already taken. In addition to establishing a planning initiative, the resolution describes their decision to adopt a master plan, and the creation of nonprofit Bozeman Fiber. The resolution also chronicles the city’s investment and urban renewal plan, which includes Bozeman Fiber, and the fact that broadband has become a contributing factor to the city’s social and economic health.

As part of the resolution, the City Commissioners include their next steps in order to advance citywide connectivity in Bozeman:

NOW, THEREFORE, BE IT FURTHER RESOLVED that the City of Bozeman will; 1) create and implement a conduit utility master plan and begin the transition for operating the conduit system as its own enterprise fund; 2) include a conduit design and construction standard as part of the City’s approved engineering standards; 3) maintain updated record drawings and GIS mapping of the City-owned conduit network; 4) consider the expansion of the existing City-owned fiber optic conduit network infrastructure when appropriate and when funding is available; 5) utilize conduit lease revenue for the purchase of additional public conduit; and 6) align conduit network expansion decisions with the City Budget and Capital Improvement Plans and planning processes.

Bangor, Maine, passed a similar resolution last summer. As communities make such formal declarations, they...

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Posted April 10, 2019 by lgonzalez

There are recognizable and obvious benefits that occur when a fiber is deployed in a community. New access to high-quality connectivity, educational opportunities for students in schools, better reliability, jobs from new employers, and possible ISP competition. Spillover effects also occur, but they may not be as obvious. This week’s guest, entrepreneur Isfandiyar Shaheen, has made it his mission to discover and document the benefits that come to a community when fiber connectivity is available.

Asfi is Founder and CEO of NetEquity Networks and he’s driven by the idea of connecting the entire globe. In addition to listening to our podcasts, Asfi has tapped into multitude of other methods for fiber infrastructure sharing as a way to make Internet access affordable.

He and Christopher discuss some of the places that have inspired Asfi, including Ammon and Emmet in Idaho, where the communities have used their fiber networks to find unexpected uses for their infrastructure. He describes how he finds a way to transform a spillover benefit into the direct benefit of affordable connectivity by working with infrastructure owners. It’s a process of creativity and vision.

We want to thank Asfi for using his birthday to start a Facebook fundraising campaign for ILSR ~ Thanks, Asfi!

Christopher interviewed Asfi at the Broadband Communities Summit in Austin, Texas; you can learn more from his 2017 TEDx talk:

...

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Posted February 21, 2019 by lgonzalez

Local governments spend billions on all sorts of infrastructure every year to advance the public good for their communities. Roads and bridges keep day-to-day activity moving. Investments such as water and sewer infrastructure keep cities clean and livable. Fiber infrastructure is used for a wide range of purposes, including economic development, education, and to keep a city’s administration connected. To get a look at how fiber network infrastructure compares to other public investments, we've developed the Broadband is Affordable Infrastructure fact sheet.

Download the fact sheet.

Side-by-Side Comparisons

The fact sheet looks at investments in both larger and smaller cities. Each of the projects that we compared to fiber optic networks required similar local investment and contributed to the well-being of the communities where they were developed. The fact sheet offers a snapshot of cost, how the projects were funded, and the results.

Some of the projects we compared are located in Wilson, North Carolina; Lafayette, Louisiana; and Chattanooga, Tennessee, where the networks have been in place long enough to bring economic benefit and other public benefits.

We found that:

Communities invest in a wide range of infrastructure projects. Fiber optic networks fit well within the historic role of municipal investment to improve the business climate and quality of life, and are often lower cost when compared with other essential infrastructure.

This fact sheet helps illustrate how high-speed networks are public infrastructure and it helps with a visual of how that infrastructure stacks up compared to traditional forms of municipal investment. Share this resource with city managers, city council members, mayors, and other elected officials. The fact sheet will also help when discussing municipal investment with other people interested in how to improve local connectivity.

Download the ...

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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 July 24, 2018 by lgonzalez

While smaller communities in Maine are laying plans to develop community broadband networks for high-quality Internet access, the state’s third largest city indicated a shift in how they view fiber optic connectivity. At a recent city council meeting, Bangor elected officials passed a resolution declaring, “Fiber and access to the Internet is an essential service in the City of Bangor, Maine.”

Read the full resolution here.

When council members passed the measure, they didn’t dedicate any funding toward community broadband or authorize a specific approach, but Councilor Tyler Collins stated, “It just sets a baseline that identifies we are prepared to do more research on this project.”

The city council has heard ideas on fiber optic deployment throughout the community for at least three years and they’re now looking closer at an open access model in which ISPs deliver Internet service to the public. Property owners connected to the infrastructure would pay a utility fee, as they do now for sewer or water, and would also pay an ISP for Internet access.

City Manager Cathy Conlow:

“They’re still able to pick their provider, but it would run over city fiber. It would ensure better coverage over the city, better speeds, consistent speeds and more stable pricing.”

At this point, Conlow describes their status as “exploring.”

Mainers Are Doing It

Over the past year, Maine has been a flurry of community broadband activity. In Baileyville and Calais, the rural towns are joining forces to develop their own dark fiber utility in the hopes of attracting ISPs to serve businesses and residents. Sanford has decided on a way to fund some surprises that slowed its network deployment, and Ellsworth...

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Posted April 13, 2018 by lgonzalez

Lawmakers in Ohio are slowly advancing a proposal to help fund rural broadband deployment. HB 378 has similarities to Minnesota’s Border-to-Border Broadband Program and will infuse $100 million in to broadband deployment ecosystem over the next two years. It’s a welcome lift for rural areas struggling to fend off economic dilemmas.

Companions

Last fall, State Senators Cliff Hite and Joe Schiavoni announced their intention to introduce a bill with the same effect. HB 378, however, appeared to pick up steam in March and, after strong bipartisan support in committee and on the floor of the House, the bill went on to the Senate on April 12th.

Back in October, Schiavoni said in a press release:

“This legislation is incredibly important to Ohio’s future. Without access to broadband internet service, businesses can’t reach their customers, students can’t do their homework and workers have difficulty searching for jobs.”

Democrat Ryan Smith and Republican Jack Cera introduced HB 378 with an eye toward economic development in their districts and other rural areas of the state facing the need to diversify their local economies. 

“With this bill, we have the opportunity to level the playing field for rural Ohioans when it comes to vital broadband infrastructure,” said Rep. Smith [in October]. “High speed broadband is the only way we can continue growing our economic base by attracting new commercial development and securing a strong labor force, our most valuable resource.”

Main Points

Like the Minnesota Border-to-Border Broadband Program, which has helped expand high-quality rural connectivity, this proposal doesn’t limit eligibility to private sector entities. Political subdivisions, nonprofits, and cooperatives can also receive awards of up to $5 million or half the cost of the project, whichever is less. This element of the bill is welcome and...

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Posted February 1, 2018 by lgonzalez

On January 30th, the House Energy and Commerce Communications and Technology Subcommittee held a hearing to learn from experts about how to shrink the digital divide and expand Internet access. The committee invited Joanne Hovis, owner of CTC Technology and Energy, to testify.

Make Investment Attractive

Hovis also heads up the Coalition for Local Internet Choice (CLIC) as CEO. She shared a plan that focused on creating an environment that will encourage infrastructure investment by the private and public sectors. The CLIC website shared the six main components of the plan:

Support public-private partnerships that ease the economic challenges of constructing rural and urban infrastructure;

Incent local efforts to build infrastructure — ones that private service providers can use — by making bonding and other financing strategies more feasible;

Target meaningful infrastructure capital support to rural and urban broadband deserts, not only to attract private capital but also to stimulate private efforts to gain or retain competitive advantage;

Empower local governments to pursue broadband solutions of all types, including use of public assets to attract and shape private investment patterns, so as to leverage taxpayer-funded property and create competitive dynamics that attract incumbent investment;

Require all entities that benefit from public subsidy to make enforceable commitments to build in areas that are historically unserved or underserved; and

Maximize the benefits of competition by requiring that all federal subsidy programs are offered on a competitive and neutral basis for bid by any qualified entity.

Hovis began her testimony by assessing our current approaches to shrinking the digital divide. She examined current belief in D.C. that local processes such as permitting and access hold up infrastructure investment and frankly told them that such a belief is incorrect.

From Hovis’s written testimony:

In reality, the fundamental reason we do not see comprehensive broadband deployment throughout the United States is that areas with high...

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