Tag: "pittsburgh"

Posted March 30, 2021 by Maren Machles

With vaccines rolling out tier by tier, state by state, and restaurants, bars and public spaces starting to reopen one by one, there seems to be a desire to say, “Wow, things are going back to normal!” Unfortunately, the public health crisis exacerbated healthcare, education, and economic inequities that have long existed in low-income and communities of color across the country and have no chance of going away any time soon. But some community leaders have stepped up and come to the table with one piece of the puzzle in bridging these inequities — better Internet access to these communities. 

Over the summer, we covered several communities that jumped to action and came up with quick ways to implement long-term solutions. 

The city of San Rafael, which sits on the coast of northern California in Marin County, continues to strengthen, expand, and research the use of the network it built over the summer and fall for one unserved area hit hard by the economic, education, and health impact of Covid-19. And on the other side of the country, Meta Mesh in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania continues construction on a pilot project that is hoping to connect unserved families by the end of this summer.

Focusing on the Future

In San Rafael, California, the city, Marin County and a nonprofit organization — the Canal Alliance — all joined forces to bring free Wi-Fi to the Canal neighborhood

Marin County’s Chief Assistant Director of Information Services and Technology Javier Trujillo said that the network is continuing to grow, but it has been largely deployed. The network — called Canal Wi-Fi  — encircles the neighborhood (see map, right), making it possible for residents to connect wherever they are when outdoors. In its current state, the network does not reach into every home because the access points mounted on street poles in the neighborhood cannot penetrate the walls of the apartment buildings. The coalition continues to seek ways to improve penetration as the project continues.

While a long-term solution would be to deploy fiber to each premises or bring wireline infrastructure to an access point inside...

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Posted November 17, 2020 by Ry Marcattilio-McCracken

We’ve written a lot over the last half year about communities around the country that have built fixed wireless networks to bridge the digital divide. Most recently, we’ve seen approaches which look to tackle particular inequalities that fast, affordable Internet access can help to alleviate: in Providence, Rhode Island, for instance, nonprofit One Neighborhood Builders built a network to tackle health disparities among Olneyville residents.

Today we’re covering a project in Pittsburgh that confronts another aspect of the digital divide laid bare by the pandemic: communities where connectivity options exist and low-income programs like Comcast’s Internet Essentials are available, but the minimum speeds offered are insufficient for households where multiple users need to work and attend school simultaneously. In a world where upload speed remains just as important as download speed, asymmetrical 25/3Mbps (Megabits per second) connections don’t cut it anymore. 

This is the problem that Every1online — a joint project by nonprofit Meta Mesh, Carnegie Mellon University, the University of Pittsburgh, two school districts, another nonprofit, and an array of local stakeholders — is looking to solve to get more than 450 families with students connected. They’ve built a fixed wireless system offering free connectivity to families across the Homewood neighborhood in Pittsburgh as well as nearby New Kensington and Coraopolis via 50/25 Mbps connections in a pilot program that will run for the next year. It’s a move that acknowledges that providing low-cost Internet access pegged at the lowest possible bandwidth tier disproportionately impacts vulnerable communities already living under the weight of a host of structural disadvantages.

Much of the greater Pittsburgh area has access to one or more wireline providers. But the city also suffers from a wealth gap for a large chunk of the population, centered on families of color (the Homewood neighborhood in particular). While low-income options exist, they aren’t fast enough for entire households which have been forced to...

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Posted August 2, 2018 by Lisa Gonzalez

If you couldn’t make it to Pittsburgh for “Making Connections” with Next Century Cities in July, you can still almost be there. The Internet Society has now archived the video footage of the event — speeches and panels — and made them available online.

Among the videos, we recommend Blair Levin’s keynote and the panel moderated by our Christopher Mitchell. In Blair’s speech he speaks about the importance of local authority as communities across the U.S. try to find the best way to deploy high-quality Internet access. Blair’s speech focuses on how smart cities and smart policy depend on learning and how the FCC’s Broadband Deployment Advisory Council (BDAC) is earning a failing grade. Through its imbalance in membership, misconceptions about the power of the telecommunications industry, and inability to negotiate properly it's placing too much power in the hands of already powerful ISPs.

The results won’t bring broadband to those who need it, won't facilitate smart city technologies, and seems designed only to confirm what they want to believe, which is that local communities should not have control over their own connectivity solutions. 

You can check out all the videos from the event here.

Read the text of the speech or watch video of Blair’s speech and the panel that follows:

Posted June 18, 2018 by Lisa Gonzalez

The Next Century Cities’ Regional Broadband Summit is quickly approaching. Summer tends to slip by without notice, but we don’t want this summer opportunity to also slip by. You can still register for the July 23 - 24 event in Pittsburgh, “Making Connections,” and touch base with elected officials from cities, towns, and counties from across the U.S. Municipal, nonprofit, and academic staff can register for free.

Monday’s Summit

On Monday, Next Centuries Cities will bring together experts in policy, broadband champions, and community leaders from all levels of government to tackle issues surrounding broadband deployment. Some of the topics they will discuss include digital equity, financing, rural connectivity, 5G, and they’ll offer success stories.

In addition to Christopher, you can expect to see presentations by:

Blair Levin, Senior Fellow from the Brookings Institution will provide the Keynote Address. Check out the agenda to see more about panel discussions and breakout sessions.

On Monday evening, attendees are invited to a welcome reception in Pittsburgh City Hall where vendors and public officials can connect in a casual setting.

Tuesday’s Speed Networking

On Tuesday, the event will focus on the Second Annual City-Vendor Connect, a “speed networking” event in which participants can speak to each other individually:

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Posted May 24, 2018 by Lisa Gonzalez

Is it summer already? If you aren’t already booked for July, Pittsburgh awaits. Next Century Cities is hosting Making Connections: A Regional Broadband Summit that will bring together experts, leaders, and champions from federal, state, and local government. Register here to sign up for the two-day event.

All-Star Lineup

In addition to our Christopher Mitchell, you will hear speakers such as:

Blair Levin, Senior Fellow from the Brookings Institution and one of people who have helped establish a vision for universal broadband in the U.S., will deliver the Keynote Address.

On July 23rd, listen to several panel presentations on successful models for deployment, digital equity, and financing. You’ll also have the chance to network with colleagues and participate in breakout sessions. There will be a Welcome Reception that evening at City Hall.

Tuesday, July 24th, will be dedicated to networking to bring communities and vendors together:

City-Vendor Connect will be set up in a “speed networking” format, to provide cities and vendors the opportunity to speak one-on-one to build relationships, discuss assets and needs, and create potential partnerships. The pairings of cities and vendors will be curated based on mutual interest, needs, and priorities between cities and vendors. Possible discussion topics range from fiber builds to 5G deployments to smart city analytics platforms. Cities and vendors will have...

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