Tag: "rural"

Posted January 24, 2023 by Ry Marcattilio

This week on the podcast, Christopher is joined by Rudolf van der Berg, Partner at Stratix Consulting, a Dutch consulting firm that does work in telecommunications and has been deeply involved in the historic level of new infrastructure deployment projects in northern Europe. Rudolf breaks down what's going on today in Europe's broadband landscape, including efforts to reach the unserved, new entrants, and the actions of private equity.

Rudolf challenges the notion that overregulation stifles innovation and competition, and dispels the rhetoric (pushed by monopoly ISPs in the United States) that the European networks struggled with the onset of the pandemic because of the regulatory landscape and comparative lack of investment as compared to their ISPs' American counterparts. Christopher and Rudolf close out the show by digging into the struggle between tech companies and ISPs between which should pay for infrastructure upgrades.

This show is 41 minutes long and can be played on this page or via iTunes or the tool of your choice using this feed. You can listen to the interview on this page or visit the Community Broadband Bits page.

Transcript coming soon. 

We want your feedback and suggestions for the show-please e-mail us or leave a comment below.

Listen to other episodes here or view all episodes in our index.

Subscribe to the Building Local Power podcast, also from the Institute for Local Self-Reliance, on iTunes or ...

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Posted January 9, 2023 by Ry Marcattilio

Join us live on Friday, January 19th, at 2:00pm ET for the latest episode of the Connect This! Show. Co-hosts Christopher Mitchell (ILSR) and Travis Carter (USI Fiber) will be joined by regular guests Kim McKinley (UTOPIA Fiber) and Doug Dawson (CCG Consulting) and special guests Shayna Englin (California Community Foundation) and Geoff Wiggins to talk about the January 13th location challenge deadline, what's going on in LA County and with the California Public Utilities Commission, and what it's like to buy a house in Ohio and find yourself stuck in the middle of the area's Internet service providers.

Email us at broadband@muninetworks.org with feedback and ideas for the show.

Subscribe to the show using this feed or find it on the Connect This! page, and watch on LinkedIn, on YouTube Live, on Facebook live, or below.

Posted January 4, 2023 by Ry Marcattilio

It's a new year, which means there's plenty to talk about in the broadband space. Join us live on Friday, January 6th, at 2:00pm ET for the latest episode of the Connect This! Show. Co-hosts Christopher Mitchell (ILSR) and Travis Carter (USI Fiber) will be joined by regular guests Kim McKinley (UTOPIA Fiber) and Doug Dawson (CCG Consulting) to talk about the recent renomination of Gigi Sohn to the FCC, why location challenges won't matter for state BEAD allocations (and why that's a big deal), and what the planning funds will do for states preparing for infrastructure money. Later, Dane Jasper (Sonic) joins the show to talk about the recent announcement by AT&T and BlackRock private equity of a joint venture to help the monopoly provider enter markets outside of states where it has traditionally operated. Finally, Roger Timmerman (UTOPIA Fiber) joins live from the Consumer Electronics Show (CES) in Las Vegas to share the trends making household bandwidth demands continue to rise.

Email us at broadband@muninetworks.org with feedback and ideas for the show.

Subscribe to the show using this feed or find it on the Connect This! page, and watch on LinkedIn, on YouTube Live, on Facebook live, or below.

Posted December 21, 2022 by Karl Bode

When it comes to affordable broadband, Vermont has always been a trailblazer. From early adoption of municipal broadband and cooperatives to more recent experimentation with CUD (Communications Union District) fiber deployments, the state’s efforts are inspiring communities nationwide looking for new, creative solutions for the stubborn digital divide. 

CUDs provide individual communities significantly more power and leverage through cross-community alliances and partnerships, allowing them to accomplish more than they could have by themselves.

Now, they’re a major part of Vermont’s plan to bring affordable access to every resident in the state. 

“It really is perfect for what we're trying to do here, because we want community engagement,  but trying to work with every single community in the state—all 252 of our towns—would be logistically a nightmare,” Vermont Community Broadband Board (VCBB) Executive Director Christine Hallquist told ISLR in a phone interview. 

Hallquist gives ample credit to Vermont lawmakers, who first created a legal framework for CUDs to operate under in 2015. That decision helped pave the way for a series of promising alternative deployments, including the East Central Vermont Fiber-to-the-Home network (EC Fiber), the first ever CUD in Vermont to help deploy more affordable access.

In 2021 the Vermont legislature passed Act 71, which ensured CUDs would play a key role in expanding affordable fiber access. A CUD is defined as a new municipal entity created by two or more towns with a goal of building communication infrastructure. In Vermont, municipally-led CUDs can legally fund needed broadband expansions through debt, grants, and donations—but not taxes, though they themselves are tax-exempt nonprofits.  

 “If you look at government bureaucracies, at both the federal and state level, it just takes too long to get things done,” Halquist said.

She added that despite the scale of what Vermont’s attempting, the CUD model winds up being easier to navigate, more accountable, and far more representative of the public interest. 

CUDs have a representative and alternate from every town on their board, and that...

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Posted December 9, 2022 by Ry Marcattilio

On the latest episode of the Connect This! Show, co-hosts Christopher Mitchell (ILSR) and Travis Carter (USI Fiber) are joined by regular guests Kim McKinley (UTOPIA Fiber) and Doug Dawson (CCG Consulting) to step back and remember the ups and downs as well as twists and turns in 2022. Did the supply chain fears that dominated news cycles ever really materialize? Will we ever have a functioning FCC? Is Congress completely out of touch with regard to the cost of broadband? Is fixing the urban broadband problem fundamentally different from fixing the rural broadband problem? The panel weighs in, and Christopher gets a little hot under the collar.

Email us at broadband@muninetworks.org with feedback and ideas for the show.

Subscribe to the show using this feed or find it on the Connect This! page, watch on YouTube Live, on Facebook live, or below.

Posted November 21, 2022 by Ry Marcattilio

This week on the podcast, ILSR Senior Reporter and Editor Sean Gonsalves joins the show for another installment of Crazy Talk. Today's topic is fiber, with the two breaking down a recent op-ed in The Hill by Technology Policy Institute President Scott Wallsten. Christopher and Sean inject a much-needed reality check, as well as some nuance, to Wallsten's performative anxiety that public broadband subsidies supporting fiber optic deployments will leave rural America behind.

They talk about the broken history of regulation and accountability that "technology neutral" arguments like Wallsten's harmfully perpetuates, when fixed wireless networks do make sense to support, and the often-underappreciated work being done by local governments across the country to maintain fiber infrastructure that they've been using to serve their communities well for decades.

This show is 35 minutes long and can be played on this page or via iTunes or the tool of your choice using this feed. You can listen to the interview on this page or visit the Community Broadband Bits page.

Transcript coming soon. 

We want your feedback and suggestions for the show-please e-mail us or leave a comment below.

Listen to other episodes here or view all episodes in our index.

Subscribe to the Building Local Power podcast, also from the Institute for Local Self-Reliance, on iTunes or Stitcher to catch more great conversations about local communities, the concentration of corporate...

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Posted September 20, 2022 by Emma Gautier

Plans for an open access fiber backbone in Erie County, New York (pop. 951,000) are being readjusted after having been stymied by the pandemic. The county will use Rescue Plan funding to cover the cost of building the backbone, which will be owned by the county and operated by ErieNet, a nonprofit local development corporation. The backbone will make connectivity directly available to anchor institutions and enterprise businesses, but the county hopes the project will draw private providers to build out last-mile infrastructure to residents. With the new fiber ring, Erie County seeks to increase both broadband availability and competition in the area. 

The project began in spring 2019, when the county announced its plan for a $20 million open access network, which at that time it was looking to have up and running before 2022. ErieNet’s original plan was a response to an acute need for connectivity among the county’s southern and eastern rural towns, as well as much of Buffalo – despite these areas’ proximity to relatively well-connected wealthier suburban communities nearby. The county is for the most part monopoly domain, served by Charter Spectrum, Lumen (formerly CenturyLink), and in some small patches, Verizon. Verizon has cherry picked wealthier areas like Kenmore, Williamsville, and Amherst, as well as a few blocks in Buffalo by the company’s hub there, but has not found the rural or high-density and low-income areas profitable enough to build to. Relatively smaller providers like Crown Castle and FirstLight have also made infrastructure investments in parts of the county, but do not appear to have expansion plans.

The pandemic stalled Erie County’s buildout plans – supply chain challenges and bureaucracy-related complications have pushed the expected project completion date to 2025, though some customers may be able to connect to the network in 2024. According to the plan, Erie County is poised to become “...

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Posted August 24, 2022 by Emma Gautier

The Tlingit and Haida Tribes will leverage $15 million in Rescue Plan funding to bring LTE-based 100 Mbps symmetrical wireless connectivity to 10,000 unserved residents in and around the city of Wrangell, located on Wrangell Island in southeast Alaska. The Internet Service Provider in charge of the buildout is the newly-launched, tribally-owned ISP Tidal Networks. The project is a pilot the tribes plan to expand to all residents of the island, and eventually to other communities in the region.  

The pilot is made possible by Tlingit and Haida’s successful participation in the FCC’s Rural Tribal Priority Window, which allowed tribes to claim space on the 2.5 gigahertz spectrum band. Back in 2019, Tlingit and Haida partnered with southeast Alaska village tribes to gain access to the spectrum, and worked throughout 2021 to “discuss [Tlingit and Haida’s] broadband initiative and opportunities to partner for the broadband project.” 

Utilizing Spectrum to Make Connectivity Feasible

Alaskan tribes have been particularly active participants of the Rural Tribal Priority Window, which was first announced by the FCC in early December 2019 and closed on September 2, 2020. Over one third of the nearly 400 tribes that applied were located in Alaska. The Yakutat Tlingit Tribe, the Sitka Tribe of Alaska, the Hydaburg Cooperative Association, and the Organized Village of Saxman also successfully gained access. To hold the spectrum license, tribes were originally required to provide service to 80 percent of residents no later than two years after obtaining it, and 100 percent of residents within five years. Since then, the FCC has doubled the requirement window to four and eight years, respectively. 

Tlingit and Haida secured spectrum in several communities in the southeastern part of the state, which has allowed the tribes to design a plan for broadband deployment that could be fully covered by the $15 million in Rescue...

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Posted August 3, 2022 by Ry Marcattilio

About ten years ago, the city of Lincoln, Nebraska (pop. 285,000) began construction on a publicly owned conduit system it would eventually lease to Internet Service Provider (ISP) ALLO Communications to enable better Internet service options to residents. That project entered its final phase in the last two years, but local officials aren’t content to stop there.

Last fall, Lancaster County (pop. 316,000), of which Lincoln is the county seat, embarked on a new conduit system to multiply its success into the future. The expansion will build upon Lincoln’s network to initiate construction into the rural parts of the county and facilitate new connectivity options to three new cities, ten villages, two census-designated places, and nine unincorporated communities.

Not Content to Sit Still

Lancaster County is situated in the southeastern corner of the state, and the second-most populous one in Nebraska.

Fixed broadband coverage, seen in the FCC Form 477 map below, shows the reality locals are contending with; good coverage in the city proper, but few options once you move into the countryside.

Lincoln itself would be in much worse shape if not for the work of forward-thinking locals who began working on improving connectivity options almost ten years ago. The city of Lincoln and Lancaster County entered into an interlocal agreement back in 2014 as the basis for the creation of a joint Information Services Division designed to “offer cost effective solutions to exploit efficiencies and effectiveness throughout all agencies,” and spur future broadband investment. The effort has been successful (see table below) fostering better average connection rates than the U.S. as a whole, though just over 10 percent of households either have no Internet access or don’t pay for a subscription.

Building Upon the Past

That Interlocal Agreement was revised at the onset...

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Posted May 10, 2022 by Sean Gonsalves

An effort to foster digital sovereignty and support tribal citizens to build and operate their own broadband networks in Indian Country is gaining momentum.

Responding to the challenges of COVID and the opportunities created by the federal attention and investment into tribal broadband, our own Christopher Mitchell, Director of the Community Broadband Initiative at the Institute for Local Self-Reliance, prominent Tribal broadband advocate and 20-year veteran behind the Tribal Digital Village, Matt Rantanen - along with a loose coalition of public interest tech people - have organized a series of trainings to help tribes tackle building and running networks for themselves. 

These Tribal Broadband Bootcamps build on the work of Internet Society's North American chapter at an Indigenous Connectivity Summit. The first Bootcamp, held in the summer of 2021, brought together nearly two dozen tribal citizens from five indigenous nations who gathered in southern California to learn how to build and operate wireless networks using their FCC license for 2.5 GHz spectrum access. The second bootcamp, held in March 2022, focused both on wireless and fiber networks. The third bootcamp, slated for next week, will be the first on the sovereign territory of the Yurok Nation in northern California.

Tribal Connectivity Front and Center

Each bootcamp is a 3-day intensive learning experience that invites tribal citizens to come together with experienced network architects, managers, and policy experts to walk participants through what it takes to build a local broadband network, how to operate as Internet Service Providers, and handle the associated technical challenges.

While many rural areas outside of Indian Country lack decent access to broadband, the lack of high-speed Internet connectivity on Tribal reservations is particularly acute.

For decades, Tribes have been overlooked, ignored, and defrauded by telecommunications companies who, for the most part, have only sought to extract...

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