Fast, affordable Internet access for all.
Content tagged with "kansas city"
New Study: Digital Equity Requires Local Solutions
Caroline Stratton, Assistant Professor in the School of Information at the University of Florida, has published a new article looking at the digital equity plans of four major U.S. cities with the aim of seeing how policy makers understand the genesis of digital inequity in their cities and how they frame solutions for addressing it. She does so with the hopes of offering recommendations for other cities that will undertake these types of efforts in the near future. To do so, “Planning to Maintain the Status Quo? A Comparative Study of Digital Equity Plans of Four Large US Cities” looks at recent-ish plans published in Portland, Oregon, Seattle, Washington, Kansas City, Missouri, and San Francisco, California.
The first third of the study includes a lot about meaning-making and the social construction of understandings of digital inequity that readers can skip without missing the bread and butter of the piece (which begins on page 51). After that, Stratton highlights a few important points that will be useful for cities embarking on digital equity work for the first time.
A Broken Marketplace Requires Community Solutions
First, she says, an understanding of digital inequity doesn’t offer much chance for change without being accompanied by a vision for solving it. Second, better city plans had larger and more inclusive coalitions from the outset, and were tapped into a variety of constituencies that represented a broader swath of lived experiences in these cities. Third, successful plans relied on the advice and participation of nonprofits, libraries, and other trusted community anchor institutions.
Importantly, Stratton shows that even though “ISPs’ profit-seeking motive may dictate why particular communities lack Internet service entirely, or service that is high-quality and affordable . . . they are spared scrutiny in plans” in many cases. More than 80 million Americans live in areas with a functional broadband monopoly.
The study also points to the reality that digital equity advocates have been describing for decades - that there are a host of other inequities that perpetuate the digital divide.
Getting Your Community Broadband Ready Just Got Easier With Toolkit From Next Century Cities
On January 16th, Next Century Cities (NCC) launched a resource that will help communities of all sizes prepare themselves for the future. NCC's Becoming Broadband Ready: A Toolkit for Communities combines best practices and experiences from places across the country to assist local communities as they begin broadband projects.
Ready, Set, Launch
In order to celebrate the new resource, learn about the content, and discover how the toolkit can be relevant to a range of projects, NCC hosted a launch event on January 16th. In addition to providing a demonstration that revealed the ease of using the toolkit, NCC brought community leaders to the event for a panel discussion. Dr. Robert Wack from Westminster, Maryland; Dan Patten from MINET in Oregon; and McClain Bryant Macklin from Kansas City participated on the panel hosted by ILSR’s Christopher Mitchell.
Panelists discussed the unique challenges they had encountered in their communities and how they overcame them along with the ways they addressed those challenges. In addition to issues that surrounded how they educated the community, panelists also talked about matters that influenced their choices of model, financial problems, and other issues. Below, you can watch the panel discussion, which include conversation on collaboration, information sharing, and other matters.
Becoming Broadband Ready: A Toolkit for Communities is a comprehensive resource that covers considerations from early in the process to determining success throughout implementation. In addition to offering guidance with examples from across the country, the toolkit offers links to other resources, such as model ordinances, reports, podcasts, and organizations laser-focused on specific and relevant issues.
"Speed Networking" At Gigabit Summit In August
Are you planning to attend the Gigabit City Summit August 1st - 3rd? If you’ll be at the event in Kansas City, you might want to check out the new City-Vendor Connect event on Thursday, August 3rd. The daylong opportunity gives cities and vendors a chance to touch base and make connections.
Next Century Cities in partnership with the Summit will host the event. Next Century Cities describes the event as:
City-Vendor Connect will primarily function as a series of “speed networking” sessions to provide cities and vendors the opportunity to speak one-on-one to build relationships, discuss assets and needs, and create potential partnerships. The networking event will also feature discussions from local leaders and vendors who have developed successful broadband partnerships to offer models and lessons learned to attendees.
The event runs from 8:30 AM to 4:30 PM Central on Thursday, August 3rd in the Westport Commons. You can register online and get more details by checking out the Next Century Cities website announcement about the event.
Quick Reflections on Google
I have been a Google Fiber supporter, believing that Google's investments and policy goals would move the United States forward, away from the monopolies of entrenched incumbents. When others claimed that Google was abandoning fiber, I argued that Google had not yet decided... it was arguing internally about the right path.
But now I think it is pretty clear that Google is done with significant fiber investment, particularly for single family residential homes. I have strong doubts that Google will continue with the Huntsville-type approaches of leasing dark fiber, but I hope that will continue.
Google's decision to pursue other, likely more lucrative investments like AI and autonomous driving may be more profitable, but it is certainly disappointing for those of us working to ensure everyone has high quality Internet access.
It is important to note that companies like US Internet, Ting, and Sonic, among others have establishing strong businesses competing against the biggest telephone and cable companies. Google's exit is not evidence that ISPs cannot do well. It is evidence that Google has other opportunities and that its large scale focus on building its own fiber had too slow of a return for its Silicon Valley expectations.
This brings me to something I wrote 5 years ago, not actually expecting that Google would give up after only 5 years.
If I were moving south of Minnesota in the near future, it would be to Chattanooga or Lafayette, not Kansas City. Who knows what Google will be doing in 5 years? We know exactly what EPB and LUS will be doing.
Wow. I think Kansas City is definitely better off for having worked with Google to enable that network. But there is no doubt in my mind that local investments are a better bet than hoping some distant company will save your community. I think this article understates Google's impact in KC significantly, but we are once again reminded that there is much more to benefiting from a network than simply laying fiber.
KC Fiber Innovates in North Kansas City - Community Broadband Bits Episode 157
Missouri Anti-Muni Bill Advances Out of Committee
The Missouri Senate Jobs, Economic Development and Local Government Committee voted to pass anti-local choice SB 266 on March 18th. This bill, sponsored by Senator Kurt Schaefer, will increase barriers for municipal networks and damage the possibility of highly-effective partnerships with the private sector. Call your Missouri State Senator and let them know you consider this bill anti-competitive, hostile to local interests, and that you will remember their vote at the next election.
The bill was discussed in the same committee earlier this month when a number of private tech firms, industry associations, and utilities groups wrote to members to express their concern with the bill. A dozen entities, including Google, NATOA, and APPA wrote that the provisions in the bill would prevent public private partnerships that improve connectivity at the local level. [See a PDF of the letter here.]
At the time, the committee chose not to vote. Rather than listen to experts, however, they postponed the decision and voted to pass the bill on Wednesday. The only amendment was a provision excluding Kansas City, Springfield, and St. Louis.
The exceptions will help Google and SpringNet but other communities will be shackled. The legislation states that its goal is to encourage innovation but the result is just the opposite by discouraging investment through intimidation.
Columbia is watching the course of this legislation with particular interest. As we reported last fall, the city is considering expanding use of its current fiber resources to spur economic development. This bill could derail their plans and keep Columbia's population limping along with CenturyLink's dismal DSL. Mid-Missouri Public Radio reported on the bill in February:
Ting Delivering FTTH Is Great News for Community Fiber - Community Broadband Bits Episode 134
Connecting For Good in Kansas City - Community Broadband Bits Podcast Episode 129
Next Century Cities Launch Webcast on October 20
Municipalities are increasingly realizing they need to take steps to ensure fast, affordable, reliable Internet access for local citizens. Some are doing the work themselves with publicly owned projects while others seek public-private partnerships. In order to capitalize on collaboration, a group of city leaders are now forming Next Century Cities.
On October 20, 2014, they will webcast the official launch from Santa Monica at 9:30 a.m. - 1 p.m. PT / 12:30 p.m. - 4 p.m. ET. From the announcement:
We're proud to announce the official launch of Next Century Cities. Next Century Cities is a new, city-to-city collaboration that supports community leaders across the country as they seek to ensure that all have access to fast, affordable, and reliable Internet. Founding Partners represent dozens of cities from across the United States.
On October 20, we will be officially launching at Cross Campus in Santa Monica, CA. Our event will bring together mayors from communities across the country, as well as successful technologists who have helped to implement and run some of the nation's most impressive broadband networks. We're proud to host mayors and leaders from across the country for a series of thought-provoking discussions about how high-quality broadband Internet has begun to empower American communities.
Featured speakers will include
- Mayor Pam O'Connor, Santa Monica, California
- Mayor Andy Berke, Chattanooga, Tennessee
- Mayor Joey Durel, Lafayette, Louisiana
As part of the event, Susan Crawford will moderate a panel discussion with Mayors and city leaders from a variety of communities.
The event will also include a panel discussion moderated by Christopher Mitchell with information and innovation leaders from the cities of Santa Monica, Boston, Kansas City, Portland, Raleigh, and Lafayette.