Mitchell explores the history around electrification in the U.S., and how electric cooperatives were formed in many communities to light up rural parts of the country when larger companies wouldn’t. He points out the parallels between electrification and connectivity in these more remote locations.
Mitchell also talks about how municipal networks are uniquely positioned to serve their residents, with priorities based at the heart of community needs and development.
Coring Optical Communications releases new videos on their Youtube channel on a monthly basis. They have experts from throughout the telecommunications world talking about solutions and innovations in areas such as fiber-to-the-home deployments, wireless technology, and hyper-scale data centers. Watch more content here.
The Institute for Local Self-Reliance has partnered with Southeast Nebraska Development District (SENDD) and the Nebraska Economic Developers Association (NEDA) to present a broadband seminar series to provide education to local elected officials, economic developers and other stakeholders. The series covers everything from the basics of broadband infrastructure and technology to financial models to the longterm benefits of investing in fast, reliable Internet access.
The series was developed by Christopher Mitchell, in collaboration with SENDD and NEDA, and produced and edited by ILSR Senior Researcher and Multimedia Producer Maren Machles.
In the first episode, Christopher introduces broadband technology and terminology, including network basics, infrastructure development, and business models.
In the second episode, Christopher is joined by Brent Comstock (CEO and Founder, BCom Solutions), Thomas Magnuson (Geriatric Psychiatrist at University of Nebraska Medical Center), Kyle Arganbright (Mayor of Valentine, NE and Executive Vice President and co-founder of Sandhills State Bank), and Brook Aken (Economic Development Manager, Omaha Public Power District) to discuss the longterm benefits of fast, reliable broadband on everything from economic development to telehealth.
Christopher is joined by David Young, Chief Information Officer for the City of Lincoln and Lancaster County in the third episode of the series. The two give guidance on state and federal broadband programs as well as barriers, challenges, and solutions for broadband infrastructure deployment.
In the final episode of the series, Christopher interviews Brad...
Tonight, at 6:45 ET, we will have a special episode of the Connect This! show with Doug Dawson, Kim McKinley, and Travis Carter to respond to the Interim Rule issued by President Biden's Treasury Department, which basically makes it difficult for most local governments to use the funds for broadband infrastructure. (We have a forthcoming story to explain this in more depth.)
This week on Connect This! Christopher and Travis Carter (CEO, USI Fiber) are joined by Kim McKinley (Deputy Director and Chief Marketing Officer, UTOPIA Fiber) and Kyle Hollifield (VP of Business Development, Magellan Advisors), both veterans with years of experience.
Marketing means more that a logo with a snappy slogan, and it can be hard to quantify the value in taking precious dollars and applying them to tasks other than fiber in the ground and the supporting electronics. The group emphasizes how important it is to get right from the start, and the impact it can have on take rates, positive word-of-mouth, and a sense of goodwill. They discuss why marketing should be both a budget priority and a central part of any business plan, and what it means for everyone from installation subcontractors to CEO to play a role. Travis, Kyle, and Kim share some of their favorite marketing success stories.
In a livestream just before Thanksgiving, Christopher was joined by Althea Networks CEO Deborah Simpier and NetEquity Networks Founder and CEO Isfandiyar Shaheen (Asfi) to discuss an innovative financing model for building Fiber-to-the-Home (FTTH) with the potential to bring quality broadband connections to the millions of homes around the country that are currently un- or underserved. Best described as a “fiber condominium” approach, it pairs collectively owned network infrastructure with the equity boost that comes with bringing symmetrical gigabit access to residential housing.
In a new video, Shaheen explains how it works in both the short term and over time, with last-mile fiber connections made by leveraging Home Equity Lines of Credit (HELOC) in modest amounts from local credit unions and a payment arrangement that covers everything from the construction to customer service calls.
The meat of the discussion starts around 6:35, with Shaheen describing how a $60-70/month payment for fiber Internet access breaks down. It covers everything needed, including payments for the HELOC to the local credit union, transit rates for the middle-mile network operator, maintenance fees, and an organizing entity like NetEquity Networks to bring all these stakeholders together and manage the connection.
It’s a fascinating model, with some new relationships that need to be created but no revolutionary technology or fundamentally new financing structures.
It's only been 26 days since the dawn of 2021, and somehow it feels like I've aged a relative year in the last four weeks. We've got a lot of exciting projects going on here among the Community Broadband Networks team, but wanted to post a quick update about the Connect This! show. Watch below where Christopher and I talk about what to expect and when. In short, Connect This! will return be returning early in February, and Christopher and Travis will be bringing together a slate of exciting panelists to tackle all the topics we expect to play out in the coming year.
ETI Software Solutions sponsored an event to help untangle the set of considerations facing communities discussing what route they want to take to improve Internet access for families and businesses in the community.
Heather Gold (HBG Strategies) presided over the panel which included ILSR's Christopher Mitchell as well as Ben Fineman, President of the Michigan Broadband Cooperative, Steve Lang, IT Manager for the city of Wadsworth, Ohio and its CityLink Fiber, and Will Aycock, General Manager of the Greenlight Network in Wilson, North Carolina. They cover a lot of ground, from the different models worth considering, to the phases of planning, to financing, construction, and customer service.
Watch the video at ETI's YouTube channel, or below.
Months after work and school went remote for millions of Americans, some communities are still waiting to get online. In the Wall Street Journal in August, members of a rural community in West Virginia discuss the daily toll in their life that this struggle to receive home Internet access takes. ILSR’s Christopher Mitchell also explains the failures of US broadband policy that has kept communities from getting connected:
We see states that are still making policy based on what the cable and telephone companies, the big cable and telephone companies, tell them. But we electrified the country by recognizing that those business models do not work for all of America.
This afternoon we hosted a YouTube Live event to talk about a model for financing Fiber-to-the-Home (FTTH) networks with the potential to dramatically expand ultrafast Internet access at affordable rates with no large upfront costs to homeowners. Christopher was joined by Deborah Simpier, CEO of Althea Networks, to talk with NetEquity Networks Founder and CEO Isfandiyar Shaheen (Asfi) about how it works, and dig into practical questions about its potential to fiberize rural America. This “fiber condominium” approach pairs collectively owned network infrastructure with the equity boost that comes with bringing symmetrical gigabit access to residential housing.
Despite repeated reminders from the rest of us that Hollywood will only ever give the late night slots to guys named James, Stephen, or Conan, Christopher is determined that if he just hosts enough things he’ll be able to break into the business and leave us all behind. In that spirit comes a new series here at the Community Broadband Networks initiative within the Institute for Local Self-Reliance: Connect This!
Every two weeks, a diverse panel of broadband policy experts and industry veterans will get together and talk about recent news, untangle regulations, demystify technology, dig into grant programs, and have a good time. Compared to the Broadband Bits podcast, Connect This! will range wider and encourage guests to find common ground on the complicated issues that collectively define our networked future. Episodes will have a set agenda and aim for less than an hour, and the plan is to bring at least one guest across two episodes in a row to provide some continuity.
Host Christopher Mitchell shared the driving impulse behind it:
I don't think people working in this space have enough opportunities to hear people wrestling over these different ideas and challenges. A lot of people are working very hard to build networks or better policies and trying to puzzle through things on their own. What is happening at the FCC? What is the deal with that government program? How does this technology work in the real world?
The goal of the show is to address these issues from different perspectives and ask hard questions — questions that we may not always know how to answer. But also to have fun with it because this is an exciting space to work in and we shouldn't have to be super serious all the time.
The first episode is up, with Christopher joined by Cat Blake (CTC Technology and Energy), Karl Bode (TechDirt), and Travis Carter (CEO, US Internet). They talk about US Ignite’s new Project Overcome, state broadband grant programs that exclude municipal networks, and AT&T’s decision to stop connecting users to its DSL network.