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Content tagged with "grassroots"Displaying 81 - 90 of 108
Chattanooga Crushes It - Marketing, Technology, and Nearby Communities - Community Broadband Bits Podcast 175
Avoid Partisan Fights with a Personal Face on Economic Development
The following commentary comes from Mike Smeltzer, one of the key people responsible for the UC2B network in the Illinois twin cities of Urbana and Champaign. Mike had this comment after a question about how we can elevate local bipartisan conversations from the local level to the state and federal level without getting lost in political bickering. He wrote this and gave us permission to republish it.
The Urbana City Council could be confused for Madison's, while Champaign's Council is far more conservative. I spoke to both of them on a regular basis in the early days of UC2B seeking their support. I learned early on that I could not tell Urbana's Council what they wanted to hear on Monday night, and then change the message to better please Champaign's Council on the next night. Those dedicated public servants watch each other's meetings on the PEG channels.
The only message that rang true with both councils was economic development. That should not come as any surprise, but as we look to elevate the discussion, I believe that we need to personalize that message. Joey Durel does it more eloquently than anyone, but I have heard the same theme from other mayors and elected officials from across the country.
The first time I heard Joey was on a NATOA field trip to Lafayette 4 or 5 years ago. After he served us his home-made gumbo, he told us the bottom line on how a conservative businessman became a leading advocate for Lafayette's fiber broadband system.
Joey saw fiber broadband as his community's best opportunity to create a local business environment that would allow his adult children (and their children) to work and live in Lafayette. There is no greater gift to parents than to be able to participate in the lives of their adult children and grandchildren. Without fiber in Lafayette, Joey was concerned that his kids would have to move away to find jobs after college or high school in order to find rewarding work.
Any parent from any political perspective understands that. I am lucky that both of my daughters live in Champaign. I get to see them and my grandchildren often. Wouldn't it be great if my luck was more generally shared?
Join MAG-Net Campaign on Prison Phone Rates and Lifeline Program Funding
The Media Action Grassroots Network recently launched a fall campaign, Fight for Our #RightToConnect, an appeal to the FCC to expand the Lifeline program to include coverage for broadband and to place a cap on prison phone rates. From MAG-Net:
Right now the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) is working on two issues that could dramatically help close the gap on some of these disparities. First, the FCC is considering reforms to the prison telephone industry that would establish an affordable flat rate for all phone calls out of jails, prisons and detention facilities, ending a practice of price gouging. Second, the FCC is planning on modernizing a low-income program known as Lifeline, which would help low-income families afford an Internet connection at home.
We want to urge the FCC to move forward on both of these issues, which is why members of the Media Action Grassroots Network are kicking off a “Right to Connect” initiative. During the next few weeks, we’ll be educating our communities on Lifeline and Prison Phones and encouraging people to take action on both of these issues. Our activities will culminate with a 15-person delegation that will travel to Washington D.C. to meet with members of Congress and the FCC to demand they support our communities. Want to join us?
Take a few moments to sign MAG-Net's petition, which will be delivered to the FCC on October 6th-7th.
MAG-Net has produced a #RightToConnect Outreach Kit with sample blasts, social media suggestions, and images that can help raise awareness.
Share the campaign on Facebook and Twitter to get the word out. For more information on what you can do, contact Steven Renderos at email@example.com
New Video Series on Better Broadband in Cambridge, Massachusetts
Cambridge, Massachusetts has established a Broadband Task Force and is looking for ways to better its local connectivity. In order to educate the public about the advantages of broadband, the local community CCTV channel will televise presentations and sit-downs between local leaders who can describe how it will impact Cambridge.
The first episode of Cambridge Broadband Matters recently aired and is now available to view. It runs approximately 30 minutes long and features Georgiana Chevry of Cambridge Community Learning Center, Susan Flannery of Cambridge Public Library, and Jay Leslie of the Cambridge Housing Authority.
One of the topics they address in this episode is the connection between broadband and adult education and workforce development. The issue is critical in Cambridge and many communities as we transition to an information based economy.
Upgrade Seattle on Need For Better Access - Community Broadband Bits Episode 153
Seattle Energy Committee Meets to Discuss Muni Fiber Possibilities: Video Available
As the talk of municipal broadband grows louder in Seattle, city leaders are gathering to learn more about what deploying at a fiber network may entail. On May 13th, the Seattle Energy Committee and leaders from citizen group Upgrade Seattle met to discuss the needs, challenges, and possibilities. Chris joined them via Skype to provide general information and answer questions. He was in Atlanta at the time of the meeting. Video of the entire meeting is now available via the Seattle Channel and embedded below.
King5 also covered the meeting (video below).
"We're starting from a different place in terms of the infrastructure," said Karen Toering with Upgrade Seattle. "The city already has in place hundreds of miles of dark fiber that we're not even using right now that were already laid in the years previous to now."
Upgrade Seattle sees that dark fiber as the key to competition which will lead to better consumer prices and service from private providers.
Businesses are also interested in reliability, argues Upgrade Seattle. Devin Glaser told the committee:
"It's important to have double redundancies – to have two wires connecting everything – so one accidental cut doesn't take out the entire grid," Glaser said. "So anything we have at the city level would value our productivity rather than their profits."
You can watch the discussion below. The conversation on a municipal fiber network lasts about about an hour. Chris begins his presentation around 11:00 into the video. As a warning, there is a significant amount of profane language at the beginning of the video from one of the public commentors.
Yet Another Homeowner Led Astray By Giant ISP; Responds with Muni Fiber Initiative
Last month, we highlighted the story of Seth, a Washington state homeowner forced to put his home up for sale due to a perfect storm of sloppy customer service, corporate bureaucracy, and terrible Internet policy. Now meet Dave Mortimer from Michigan.
Dave is another person in a similar situation, reports Ars Technica. In 2013 incumbent AT&T told Dave three separate times that the house he had his eye on in rural Lowell had U-verse fiber network capabilities. Their website verified what customer service represenatives told him. Dave is an IT professional and wanted the opportunity to work from home. He must be on call while not in the office and so requires a fast residential Internet connection.
After buying the home and moving in, AT&T backpedaled. Actually his best option was DSL offering 768 Kbps. Oops!
Working from home was a struggle. After Dave complained to AT&T, the FCC, the FTC, and the state Public Service Commission, the provider eventually updated their website but that didn't help Dave. He limped along but seldom worked from home as he had planned to do from the start. His office is 30 minutes away.
Finally, AT&T billed him for a phone line he never requested leading to an auto-payment error and a shut-off of his Internet service. That was enough for Dave. He approached a local wireless provider Vergenness Broadband and, working with the installer, attached the receiver to a tree some distance from his house and buried the extra long cable in cracks in his driveway to his house. Dave now pays $60 per month and gets the 3 Mbps download / 1 Mbps upload he was promised.
Dave is no where near the 45 Mbps he had hoped to obtain from the phantom U-verse, but he has this to say about his local provider:
“This is a night and day difference since switching from AT&T," he said. "Everything that AT&T did wrong, this small local company is doing right.”
Dave was fortunate to have a local company able to bring him service, even though it is not broadband as defined by the FCC. Nevertheless, he considers this a temporary fix and the best he can get for the time being.
Seattle Grassroots Muni Initiative Kicks Off With Campaign Survey
Seattleites tired of waiting for incumbents to provide better services, have decided to launch a campaign to establish Internet access as a public utility. In order to get the campaign off to a strong start, the founding group has launched a survey to choose a name.
Seattle has significant fiber resources in place, an electric utility, and strong grassroots support. Unfortunately, incumbent Comcast has been trying to curry favor within City Hall. But given that Seattle has joined Next Century Cities, the City seems focused on exploring all of its options.
When Chris presented in Seattle, he strongly encouraged them to organize a grassroots effort to support a community network. Now, a group of community organizers, artists, tech workers, and students are taking the next step forward because:
A 2014 report by the city found that "nearly 20% of Seattle residents do not have any Internet access.” Entire neighborhoods still lack access to Internet speeds necessary to take part in the modern economy. Without access, residents may not be able to apply for jobs, utilize city websites, finish their homework, operate a small business, display art, shop online, or video chat with a doctor from the comfort of their homes.
Even those with home access to Internet have too few options. The same city report showed that 45% of residents wanted better prices, and 33% wanted higher speeds than currently offered by the two dominant Internet providers: Comcast and CenturyLink.
Some of the names they suggest are "Seattle for Homegrown Internet," "Connecting Seattle," and "Seattle's Own Internet." They also offer the chance for participants to offer their own ideas.
"Getting Started on Broadband" Webinar from Blandin on January 7th
The Blandin Foundation will be holding another informative webinar on Wednesday, January 7th. The event is titled "Getting Started on Community Broadband" and runs from 2 - 3 p.m. CST. You can register online for the free event.
However, we think it might better be called "Broadband in the Community" or something else because the focus is not on "community broadband" as that term is used in the vast majority of situations. This will likely be a good webinar for people new to broadband but will almost certainly not be focused on community networks.
Blandin Foundation consultant Bill Coleman and his guests will touch on comparisons between wired and wireless technologies, provide information on resources and tools for community broadband initiatives, and explore options to improve connectivity in your community.
From the Blandin on Broadband blog webinar announcement:
Two important trends are driving more communities to consider community engagement in broadband availability for the first time. First is the fact that broadband as a necessary element of everyday life is not a theoretical discussion anymore. Almost everyone wants broadband so that they can participate fully in 21st Century life. What might have been hyperbole ten years ago is now undeniably true. Lack of broadband lowers property values and impacts quality of life. No doubt about it. Second, the availability of state and federal fund to address rural broadband issues seems to be growing. Unprepared communities will soon see the funds flowing to their better prepared neighbors, thus motivating communities to get busy and play catch up.
"Ask Us Anything" Event on Organizing For a Network and Open Access on Dec 17
Last month, we held our first "Ask Us Anything: An Open Talk on Muni Networks" event for people interested in learning more about municipal networks. We were pleased by the turn out and by the quality of questions participants threw our way. We will hold our second "Ask Us Anything" event on December 17th at 2:00 p.m. CST.
This time, we will try narrowing the conversation a [no-glossary]bit[/no-glossary] with focus on organizing a network in the first 30 minutes and open access approaches in the last 30 minutes. We hope that you will send us a question when you register and encourage you to bring more questions to the event.
You can register at GoToWebinar.
If you were not able to our first "Ask Us Anything," it is now archived and available to view.