Tag: "fiber"

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 September 12, 2022 by Ry Marcattilio

Join us live on Friday, September 16, at 1pm ET for the latest episode of the Connect This! Show. Co-hosts Christopher Mitchell (ILSR) and Travis Carter (USI Fiber) will be joined by Deborah Simpier (Co-founder at Althea Networks, Sommelier Finance, and Gravity Bridge) and Sascha Meinrath (Palmer Chair in Telecommunications at Penn State University, Founder of X-Lab). They'll discuss the advantages of different wireless deployments (LTE vs. licensed spectrum vs. unlicensed spectrum) as compared to fiber, the present and future of distributed, member-owned networks, and more.

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 August 10, 2022 by Ry Marcattilio

In a release today, the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) announced it was voiding applications by two of the biggest Rural Digital Opportunity Fund (RDOF) bidders from December 2020. This includes more than $885 million for Low-Earth Orbit (LEO) provider Starlink and more than $1.3 billion for LTD Broadband, Inc.

LTD’s original winning bids are spread across 15 states, but there has been speculation brewing since late last year from industry experts as to if funds would be released at all. We’ve seen 12 releases from the FCC since late winter authorizing funds for most of the winning bidders (from the monopoly providers to consortia of rural electric cooperatives), which we’ve collected in our Rural Digital Opportunity Fund Dashboard here. Conversely, there has been relatively little conversation about why Starlink had not yet received any of its winning bids.

Skepticism about Speed, Deployment and Cost

The FCC’s decision to revoke the winning bids for Starlink seem to be based on the (laudable) premise that when public funds go to providers to ease the capital costs of bringing service to high-cost areas, policymakers and regulators should consider the long-term digital equity implications for ISPs with baseline service tiers. Doug Dawson of CCG Consulting just wrote about this two weeks ago, asking whether “an agency that awards grants or other broadband subsidies [should] somehow insist that broadband rates are somehow tied to market rates.” It seems from the FCC’s announcement that the answer is yes, with Chairwoman...

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Posted July 20, 2022 by Karl Bode

The Navajo Tribal Utility Authority (NTUA) is slated to receive more than half a million dollars in Covid-relief funding from the state of Utah. The funding will help the NTUA expand fiber and wireless access to part of the 27,425 square mile Navajo Nation, improving access at Navajo anchor institutions and some of the nation’s 173,000 residents. 

The NTUA was created in 1959 by Navajo leaders frustrated by the fact that regional utilities had failed to provide uniform electricity services to the Navajo people. Still, over 60 years later and not only is the failure to electrify marginalized communities still a problem, the organization is leveraging its experience in that fight to expand broadband access as well. 

Project Timeline: 30 months

To help fix the problem, the Utah Broadband Center, run by the Governor’s Office of Economic Opportunity, recently doled out $420,732 in broadband grants to the NTUA. Combined with $140,244 in matching funds from the NTUA, the project will bring a combination of fiber and wireless to 473 households currently unserved in Montezuma Creek, Utah. 

The grants were part of $10 million in Covid relief funding recently awarded by the Utah Broadband Center and made possible by the American Rescue Plan Act.

“From the time they sign the contract with the state, they have 30 months to complete the project,” Rebecca Dilg, Director of the Utah Broadband Center, told ILSR. “We are still working out the details of the contracts with all grant recipients.”

“We are pleased that there are substantial efforts being done by the Navajo Nation to bring high-speed Internet to the tribal lands in Utah and across the entire Navajo Nation,” Dilg added. 

Last December, the NTUA received an additional $1.8 million in funding to...

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Posted June 30, 2022 by Ry Marcattilio

This week on the podcast, Christopher is joined by Seth Wainer, the former CIO of the city of Newark, New Jersey. During the conversation, Seth shares his time with the city from 2013-2018. He talks about the progress the city made in improving local connectivity across different arenas, from cataloging existing assets, to pursuing both wired and wireless self-funded projects (to more than 100 buildings today), to putting in vendor-agnostic fiber in downtown development, to coordinating utility projects to lower costs.

Christopher and Seth end the conversation by talking about the importance and power of reframing the question of broadband access, including what happens when we think of telecommunications infrastructure as a sustainable public service rather than a luxury good.

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 power, and how everyday people are taking control.

Thanks to Arne Huseby for the music. The song is Warm Duck Shuffle and is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution (3.0)...

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Posted May 12, 2022 by

In this episode of the Connect This! Show, co-hosts Christopher Mitchell and Travis Carter (USI Fiber) are joined by guests Brian Mefford (VETRO FiberMap) and Lori Adams (Nokia) to talk about the FCC's Fabric initiative, and the latest in data collection and mapping.

This week's show will focus on broadband mapping and data collection and how the FCC’s new collection and verification process differs from 477 data. They will also cover whether Internet Service Providers (ISPs) are ready and if ISPs truly understand the process, as well as dive into the promise and perils of crowd sourcing information; what information states should submit that they have collected through their own mapping processes; the challenge process; and the efficacy of speed test data before concluding with a discussion about when the final FCC maps may be ready for prime time.

Subscribe to the show using this feed on YouTube Live or here on Facebook Live, on 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 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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Posted April 26, 2022 by

This week on the podcast, Christopher is joined by Shayna Englin, Director of the Digital Equity Initiative at the California Community Foundation.

During the conversation, the two talk about Shayna’s work with the Digital Equity Initiative, how their coalition brought about recent wins for community broadband in LA County, and what’s next in the fight to build a community-owned fiber network there.

They discuss the political realities faced by activists pursuing community broadband, and get into the nitty gritty of working within a massive bureaucracy. Zooming out, Shayna highlights exciting updates on California’s broadband spending, and specific projects with the potential to transform connectivity throughout the state.

This show is 39 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 ...

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Posted April 18, 2022 by Sean Gonsalves

As states and local governments look to leverage the flood of federal funds for the creation of ubiquitous high speed Internet access, an upcoming conference promises to be packed with practical insights from leading broadband experts on how to maximize the moment.

The Broadband Communities Summit 2022, which will once again be held in Houston, Texas at the downtown Marriott Marquis from May 2nd through May 5th, is an annual four-day event. Expected to draw over 1,200 participants, this year’s theme will be “Fiber: The Lifeblood of the New Economy.” It will be organized around a multitrack agenda, numerous workshops, and showcase an exhibit hall with dozens of vendors – all of which provides attendees with valuable networking opportunities with broadband systems operators.

The agenda will offer a variety of key features, including:

  • Expanded program addressing the booming multifamily housing segment 
  • Exclusive closed-door sharing session in owners' forums 
  • Insight into evolving business models 
  • Special hot topic clusters grouped around central themes, including financing opportunities and partnership models 
  • Expert advice and strategies for using broadband to create jobs and attract and keep businesses 
  • Legal strategies symposium

The opening day of the summit kicks off with several workshops, including a Broadband Breakfast mini-conference that focuses on both private and public financing; a workshop on the “flavors of open access (networks)” moderated by our own Christopher Mitchell and UTOPIA Fiber’s Chief Marketing Officer Kim McKinley; and a workshop on how the public and private sectors can work together to develop successful broadband partnerships, presented by the Coalition for Local Internet Choice (CLIC) President Jim Baller, CTC Energy and Technology President Joanne Hovis, Executive Director of the National Digital Inclusion Alliance Angela Siefer, and Fiber Broadband Association President and CEO Gary Bolton.

Day 2 of the summit will feature a keynote address from Texas Congresswoman Lizzie Fletcher as well as presentations from top representatives of the federal agencies in charge of allocating funds...

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Posted March 18, 2022 by Emma Gautier

Located in southeastern Iowa, Dubuque (pop. 60,000) has considered the advantages of building a municipal network a number of times over the past fifteen years. Back in 2005, the city – as well as several other Iowa communities – voted to “grant the right to create municipal systems” (Telegraph Herald, 2009). The new legislation, however, did not result in many new telecommunications utilities. 

The road to better connectivity has been a long one, marked by repeated battles between locals served by poor or no service and the city’s incumbent providers. In 2009, Mediacom used the state’s right of first refusal law to keep competition out of its territory, causing the city to “cry foul” and Dubuque to reconsider a public network. In 2015, the city of Dubuque and the Greater Dubuque Development Corporation joined forces to expand local connectivity in response to community demand. The partnership included convening private and public sectors to identify last mile infrastructure and foster collaboration, and supporting opportunities for expanded connectivity. By 2017, private providers including Wisconsin Independent Network, CS Technologies, Unite Private Networks, CenturyLink, and Mediacom had made efforts to serve some of the unserved areas, but pockets of the community were still left out. 

Only more recently has a formal proposal been set forth, with the potential to create a robust middle-mile network designed to dramatically improve competition and incent private ISPs to invest in the un- and underserved pockets of the community. 

A Formal Proposal for Public Broadband Infrastructure 

It’s been a long conversation with no definitive moves, but that may be changing soon. In February, 2022, Dubuque County’s Information Technology Department proposed a middle-mile underground conduit buildout to connect residents and anchor institutions across the county. The...

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