Tag: "misinformation"

Posted August 2, 2022 by Ry Marcattilio-McCracken

This week on the podcast, Christopher is joined by Sean Gonsalves, Senior Reporter and Editor at the Institute for Local Self-Reliance. During the conversation, they talk about the value and concrete results of going small and stacking up targeted wins as a path for cities facing less of an appetite for big, bold projects, before digging into recent astroturf campaigns by monopoly Internet Service Providers (ISPs).

Led by the Alliance for Quality Broadband (AQB) (really a lobbying group including providers like Charter Spectrum and others), municipal broadband efforts have seen recent setbacks in places like Southport, Maine. It's a campaign being waged both in print flyers and online facebook ads, with AQB driving misinformation efforts and attempting to scare citizens away from upcoming votes on projects to improve local connectivity after years of underinvestment by incumbents (like Charter Spectrum). 

Christopher and Sean fact check the Alliance for Quality Broadband's bogus claims about the failure of muncipal efforts across the country in places like Pennsylvania, Minnesota, California, Florida, and Vermont, and unpack the deep-seated fear of competition driving such efforts.

Listen to Christopher's in-depth interview with Harold Depriest about Chattanooga, referenced in the episode.

Watch the most recent episode of the Connect This! Show to see Christopher and Travis Carter (USI Fiber) talk with Peggy Schaffer (Director, ConnectME), Andrew Butcher (President, Maine Connectivity Authority), and Christa Thorpe (Community Development Officer, Island Institute) about anti-municipal broadband efforts in Maine.

This show is 38 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...

Read more
Posted July 26, 2022 by Ry Marcattilio-McCracken

Join us live on Thursday, July 28th, at 4pm ET for the latest episode of the Connect This! Show. Co-hosts Christopher Mitchell (ILSR) and Travis Carter (USI Fiber) will be joined by Peggy Schaffer (Director, ConnectME), Andrew Butcher (President, Maine Connectivity Authority), and Christa Thorpe (Community Development Officer, Island Institute).

The panel will dig into recent anti-municipal propaganda in the New England area, with an emphasis on Maine. They'll talk about the astroturf campaign being waged by groups like the Alliance for Quality Broadband (a front organization for Charter Spectrum) and recent blows to municipal broadband they've fueled in places like Southport and Readfield. The panel will talk who really loses out when the monopoly providers persuade voters and local officials to defer leadership on imrpoving community connectivity. Christa Thorpe will join halfway through the show to share her experiences and perspective.

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

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

Watch here on YouTube Live, here on Facebook live, or below.

Posted May 3, 2022 by

Written by Christine Parker

See the interactive resource, United State(s) of Broadband Map, hereUpdated on June 1, 2022.

View and download an HTML version of the map hereTo view, open it in any web browser.

Updates can be shared with Christine Parker at christine@ilsr.org.

*If at any point the HTML file stops working, it's because the map has been updated. Just return to this story or that dropbox folder and redownload the file at the link above.

Tens of billions of dollars in federal funding are poised for new broadband infrastructure deployment over the next five years. But a crucial step in allocating funds from the Broadband Equity, Access, and Deployment (BEAD) Program - for states and local governments - lies in knowing where fast, affordable, reliable broadband access currently is, so that they know where to drive new investment. The FCC’s historical and repeated failure to put together an accurate national broadband map threatens to significantly hold up the process.

Localities and states have learned that they cannot trust big monopolies or the federal government to get this right.  For years, it has ignored the problem or claimed it doesn’t have the funds to solve it. Its data updates (we’re still waiting on the December 2021 drop, and it’s April) are slow, and there’s no doubt among industry experts that even with a new process in place - initiated in the spring 2020 - it too is fraught with complications. Even under the best-case scenario, we’re not likely to see better maps for at least a year to come.

Unfortunately, we don’t know how the process will...

Read more
Posted April 27, 2022 by Christopher Mitchell

Gigi Sohn is still up for confirmation by the Senate to complete the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) - an independent agency in the executive branch of the federal government that has been stuck at a 2-2 split of Democrats and Republicans since President Biden took office. The FCC is supposed to operate with five commissioners, with the party of the President in power having 3 seats. 

She was the obvious choice in December of 2020, when it was clear that Joe Biden would take office. With decades of history in telecom and media-related policy as well as a recent stint as Counselor to Tom Wheeler when he was Chair of the FCC, she would be among the most-qualified people to serve on it since I began working in telecom in 2007. And by among, I mean at the top.

I’ve known Gigi for many years and respected her from the first time I saw her in action. She isn’t a political agent trying to figure out the best path to the top. She has strong beliefs, and she’ll tell you what they are in a wonderful Long Island blur of passion. She respects other beliefs and ideas but she isn’t going to pretend she agrees with you when she doesn’t. 

Maybe my word isn’t that persuasive, because I tend to agree with Sohn on many issues. But a lot of people with far more credibility among conservatives have spoken up on Gigi. So I hadn’t written anything about this because I assumed it would take time but Gigi would get confirmed. Plus, I focus my work outside DC and there is a lot going on that is keeping us busy. 

Gigi was always under fire by the likes of the Wall Street Journal Opinion page, which has made baseless claims about her not being committed to free speech, using tortured logic around denying mergers. If I went off every time that bunch embarrassed the good work of their reporters, I wouldn’t do anything else. 

But then some allies forwarded me claims coming from former North Dakota Senator Heidi...

Read more
Posted April 8, 2022 by Karl Bode

Cox Communications recently grabbed headlines for an announcement that the company would be investing more than $120 million in Rhode Island to expand and upgrade its Internet infrastructure. But officials in the state say much of the planned deployments may not actually even be new. The announcement appears timed to ensure that public funds from the American Rescue Plan are shifted away from potential competitors (including local governments), and toward a regional monopoly long criticized for underinvestment in the state. 

“Historic Investment”

On March 15, the region’s dominant cable broadband provider announced a $120 million plan to provide 10 gigabit per second (Gbps) service to an unspecified number of  Rhode Island residents over the next three years. The coordinated press event and announcement took place at the Old Colony House in Newport mansion of Governor Dan McKee, who heralded the “historic investment.” 

According to Cox, $20 million of the announced total would fund fiber new deployments to roughly 35,000 homes in the Aquidneck Island communities of Newport, Portsmouth, Middletown, and Jamestown. The rest will focus on providing less-robust hybrid coaxial/fiber service to the rest of the state’s residents. 

“We’re preparing for the next generation of Internet use in home and in business,” Ross Nelson, Senior Vice President and Regional Manager for Cox Communications said. “We are committed to being the Internet provider customers can count on to have the speed they need now and in the future.”

But several state leaders, well familiar with cable and phone monopolies' long history of under-investment in the state, say the announcement was largely decorative, and doesn’t come close to actually meeting the needs of long-underserved local Rhode Island communities. 

“When you break down the $20 million among just those four communities over three years, it is $1.6 million,” Rhode Island Representative Deborah Ruggiero said in a press release of her own, calling the Cox...

Read more
Posted April 1, 2022 by Ry Marcattilio-McCracken

Two decades into the twenty-first century, it still feels a little strange to justify all of the obvious ways that Internet access serves as a key pillar among the social determinants of health (SDOH) that govern our individual and collective wellbeing. The concept itself is at least two hundred years old: a German pathologist named Rudolph Virchow is often quoted as saying in the late 1840s, in response to the privation he saw in the run-up to the 1848 revolutions, that “medicine is a social science and politics is nothing else but medicine on a large scale.” 

Our modern framing of the problem comes in large part from the World Health Organization, which in the preamble to its 1946 constitution wrote that “health is a state of complete physical, mental and social well-being and not merely the absence of disease or infirmity.” In 2020, the FCC has called broadband access a “super social determinant of health” in 2020, precisely because it serves as a gateway to all of the other elements of life that foster healthiness and wellbeing, from access to education, information, better food, economic opportunity, and socialization. 

But a recent study published to the JAMA Open Network makes the connection even more explicit. In it, a team of researchers at The Center for Spatial Data Science at the University of Chicago show that a lack of Internet access has been strongly correlated with higher Covid-19 mortality rates across every type of household and in rural, suburban, and urban areas alike. 

Internet Access Most Strongly Correlated with Covid-19 Mortality Rates

What’s more, controlling for the host of other social determinants of health and medical factors that researcher often look at in relation to Covid mortality rates (income inequality, housing overcrowding, access to primary care physicians, access to insurance), the study...

Read more
Posted March 3, 2022 by Staff

Written by Christine Parker and Ry Marcattilo-McCracken

A recent report by BroadbandNow made the rounds in February, with the authors concluding that the average price for broadband access across all major speed tiers for Americans has fallen, by an average of 31 percent or nearly $34/month, since 2016. At a glance, this is great news – perhaps affordable Internet access for all is within reach?

Readers following up to check out the report itself would be well justified in coming to the same conclusion, with BroadbandNow writing in the first paragraph that “we’ve found that prices have decreased across all major download speeds (25Mbps up to 1Gbps+) and technologies (cable, fiber, DSL and fixed wireless).” Immediate news coverage reinforced the report’s points.

But you don’t have to follow broadband policy closely to get the sense that something a little off is going on here. It feels like every day there’s a story like this one about Cable One, with a provider increasing speeds as it improves its network infrastructure and then raising rates while removing the slowest tier options. Charter and Comcast, for their part, do this nearly every year whether pairing it with speed increases or not. Is broadband access getting cheaper, or more expensive? What’s going on here?

The reality is that this report from BroadbandNow, unfortunately, poorly frames the national broadband marketplace. At best, it muddies the waters with a lack of clarity about the relationship between broadband access speed tiers and relative pricing. At worst, it leaves the average reader with the incorrect assumption that broadband prices must be falling, and gives the monopoly cable and telephone companies ammunition to push for millions more in taxpayer dollars while building as little new infrastructure as possible.

Either way, it contradicts the fact that broadband prices, for the vast majority of...

Read more
Posted May 14, 2020 by Katie Kienbaum

In their recent, biased report bashing community broadband, the Taxpayers Protection Alliance (TPA) alleges that municipal broadband networks are “GON With the Wind,” but it’s really the report’s authors who have run off with reality. Though the report implies that the random subset of 30 municipal networks it features are all government “boondoggles,” TPA only alleges network failure or failure to pay debt in nine cases. After correcting for TPA’s errors, just eight of those 30 networks could be argued as failures.

To counter TPA’s erroneous and misleading claims, the Community Broadband Networks initiative has prepared a response to the report in which we summarize the many shortcomings of the report’s arbitrary approach, correct the authors’ numerous mistakes and omissions, and provide a city-by-city rebuttal of the report’s allegations.

View our response, “Fact Checking the New Taxpayers Protection Alliance Report, GON With the Wind” [pdf], now or download the file below.

“Puzzling” Report Discredits TPA

“The Taxpayer Protection Alliance has returned with another puzzling attempt to discredit municipal broadband networks,” we write in our response to the new report. “They have published a report, GON With the Wind, that mostly affirms that the community networks it picked to study are successful.”

In addition to not even alleging network failure in most cases, TPA’s report struggles with a basic understanding of the telecommunications business, fails to correctly cite and use facts, and relies heavily on a discredited study. In particular, we note the many sloppy errors that the report’s authors make in the section on Chattanooga, Tennessee:

We examined their sourcing for claims made in the Chattanooga case study and found numerous problems. The most obvious is related to the claim on page 15 that Chairman Ajit Pai reversed former Chairman Wheeler’s effort to limit state preemption policies. The 6th Circuit reversed the FCC Order while Chairman Wheeler was still in office, long before Republicans won the 2016 election. Oddly enough, TPA correctly characterized this on page 16.

Furthermore, the report excludes relevant...

Read more
Posted October 8, 2019 by Lisa Gonzalez

Hey, Community Broadband Bits fans, it's time for Crazy Talk again! This time, our Communications Specialist Jess Del Fiacco joins Christopher and I to address recent insanity attacking municipal networks.

"What IS Crazy Talk," you say?

Every once in awhile, anti-municipal network initiatives get wind of particular projects in local communities and make extra efforts to spread misinformation. They usually rely on the same tired old talking points and refer to the same incorrect data from old reports that have been called out for inaccuracies.

This time is no different. Lately, the community of Lakeland, Florida, has discussed the possibility of building off their existing fiber optic infrastructure in order to offer services to residents. Reliably, anti-municipal soundbites have appeared in the local press which quote past research that we showed as based on faulty data. Nevertheless, a corrected version of the report was never published and it continues to be quoted in order to sway public opinion against local efforts to improve connectivity.

We also discuss other recent crazy publications that try to show local networks that residents love as outliers. In reality, a majority of the 500+ communities served by publicly owned networks get high marks from locals.

Jess, Christopher, and I also review a new report that attacks the positive economic development potential of municipal networks. All in all, it appears to be another report that's based on inaccurate data in order to paint municipal networks in a negative light. Junk in, junk out...

Read more
Posted April 9, 2019 by Lisa Gonzalez

Vinton, Iowa, is on the road to Internet access self-reliance as the community of about 5,100 people continue to move forward with their Fiber-to-the-Home (FTTH) project. They’ve come under attack, however, from the Taxpayers Protection Alliance (TPA). The group is part of a web of organizations aimed at increasing corporate dominance and corporate concentration of power. TPA sent a letter filled with the usual twisted anti-muni spin, but this time went a step farther. A TPA senior fellow mischaracterized a quote from one of the industry’s most respected experts in order to push their harmful agenda.

Former State Representative Chip Baltimore did not run for re-election last year and now fills his days trying to prevent competition for the large incumbent ISPs. His methods include interfering in local communities’ decisions to improve connectivity. In an attempt to undermine the project and frighten community leaders out of supporting it, Baltimore sent a letter to Vinton Municipal Electric Utility Board Members in February.

The letter included several overused fallacies that permeate TPA literature and in other letters we’ve seen directed to decision makers in other communities. Baltimore also included a quote from Joanne Hovis from CTC Technology & Energy. The quote applied to take rates in another part of the country far away from Vinton. 

Farr Technologies, the consultants that performed the feasibility study for Vinton, estimated that iVinton could achieve take rates of 40 percent in the first year and grow to 62 percent within five years. Baltimore tried to use Hovis’s statement, which applied to a different community, to discredit Farr’s estimate. It’s true that these rates appear high, but folks in Vinton have shown that they believe the electric utility can provide better service than incumbents Mediacom or CenturyLink. Farr’s consultants considered the community’s survey results, expressions of dissatisfaction with current incumbents, and the electric utility’s stellar reputation with customers when estimating future take rates. 

logo-vinton-electric.png In 2015, when the town started to dig...

Read more

Pages

Subscribe to misinformation