Tag: "broadband"

Posted November 11, 2022 by Sean Gonsalves

Joined by an array of leading broadband experts, infrastructure investment fund managers, institutional investors, private equity, and venture capitalists will gather in the nation’s capital next week for a day-long in-person conference to discuss and explore the digital infrastructure and investment asset profile required to support a 21st century information economy.

The Annual Digital Infrastructure Investment conference, which brings the broadband infrastructure and financial services communities together, will be held on Thursday, November 17, 2022, at Clyde’s of Gallery Place in Washington, D.C. And though spots are filling up fast, there is still time to register to attend here.

The conference program will begin at 8:30 a.m. and run until 3:30 p.m. and will feature four panels. The first panel – What’s the State of the Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act (IIJA)? – will be led by moderator Gabriella Novello, Assistant Editor of Communications Daily, and Glen Howie, Director, Arkansas State Broadband Office. The panel will explore how state broadband offices are feeling about the pace of the National Telecommunications and Information Administration (NTIA) in moving the BEAN program forward, what states are doing to prepare for it, how big of an impact the infrastructure bill will have on the broadband industry.

The second panel – Broadband Mapping: Are We on the Right Track or the Wrong Track? – will include Bryan Darr, Executive Vice President of Smart Communities at Ookla and Jim Stegeman, President of CostQuest Associates. That panel will get into the nitty gritty of the Federal Communications Commission’s (FCC) quest to publish more accurate broadband maps.

The first of two afternoon panels – Financing Mechanisms for Community Broadband – is being moderated by our Christopher Mitchell, director of ILSR’s Community Broadband Networks Initiative, and will cover how the “Private Sector is from Mars” and “Non-profits are from Venus” attitude is evolving and leading to new approaches in the financing of new networks. That...

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Posted September 20, 2022 by Sean Gonsalves

As part of its ongoing effort to support a new generation of broadband scholars, practitioners, and advocates, the Benton Institute for Broadband & Society has put out the call for fellowship applicants looking to further their studies on broadband access, adoption, equity, and use.

In a recent newsletter, the Institute says they “are interested in supporting a range of projects that can better inform our current or emerging broadband policy debates, either through critical research about the future of the Internet in our communities or the development of best practices and tools to advance our field’s work.”

More specifically, they are seeking “proposed projects (that) can yield either practice or research-focused publications or multimedia content.”

Some potential topics include:

  • How are grassroots organizations and coalitions working to advance digital equity?
  • How can we best measure and map the availability and quality of broadband?
  • What state and local policy levers can influence broadband availability and adoption?
  • How does improved access to broadband impact local economies and communities?
  • What resources and information do state legislators or government agencies need to ensure universal broadband access and adoption?

The Institute goes on to explain how those topics are “by no means an exhaustive list” and that applicants “should feel free to propose other ideas of critical importance to our field;" noting also that the Institute is especially interested in applications that focus on historically marginalized communities.

The fellowships, which are being supported through the Marjorie & Charles Benton Opportunity Fund, will range from $5,000 to $20,000 – with a tenure ranging from 6 months to 2 years.

Applications are due by October 15, 2022. For more information on the fellowship, eligibility, or the application process email fellowships@benton.org.

Previous fellowships include Dr. Christopher Ali, Associate Professor with the...

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Posted August 19, 2022 by Sean Gonsalves

AARP Minnesota has taken notice: “broadband infrastructure has not been deployed evenly to communities across the state.”

In an effort to raise awareness about the “good news” of state and federal investments to expand infrastructure and how local leaders and residents can learn how to push for better broadband access in their communities, the Minnesota chapter of the AARP will host a “Critical Access: Broadband Expansion in Minnesota” webinar beginning at 1 p.m. CT Wednesday, Aug. 24.

Our own Christopher Mitchell, Director of Community Broadband Networks with the Institute for Local Self-Reliance, will be a featured speaker for the one-hour event and will be joined by Cathy McLeer, State Director for AARP Minnesota, as well as Lori Vrolson, Executive Director of the Central Minnesota Council on Aging.

McLeer has been with AARP Minnesota since 2005, having first served as the Associate State Director for Communications in the South Dakota State Office, then as a Senior Advisor for the Central Region, before becoming the Minnesota State Director where she has been a powerful advocate on behalf of Minnesota’s 630,000 AARP members.

Vrolson has more than 27 years’ experience working on aging issues. Currently, as Executive Director of the Central MN Council on Aging (CMCOA), which serves the 14 counties in the central region of Minnesota, she has overseen the organization’s administration of the federal Older Americans Act funding program for non-medical in-home services. Vrolson’s work has more recently been focused on developing Lifetime Communities, expanding evidence-based chronic disease self-management resources, and assisting older adults as they transition across health and long-term care settings.

Mitchell will share insights on how broadband expansion works, new opportunities for funding, and how local leaders and residents can bring new projects to their communities....

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Posted May 4, 2022 by

Hosts Christopher Mitchell (ILSR) and Travis Carter (USI Fiber) are joined by regular guests Kim McKinley (UTOPIA Fiber) and Doug Dawson (CCG Consulting) to talk about the formation of the American Association of Public Broadband and its vision and goals, whether BEAD funds should be paired with low-income plan requirements, small- and medium-sized ISPs finding that ACP rules are hindering signups, and the recent announcement by the FCC that it was fining LTD Broadband. Alan Fitzpatrick from Open Broadband joins later in the show.

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 September 28, 2021 by Jericho Casper

Update, 1/22/22: Common Sense Media has released an easy-to-read, comprehensive guide to federal broadband funding opportunities. Read it here.

In response to the Covid-19 pandemic, Congress and the Biden Administration passed two federal stimulus relief packages with historic levels of funding for programs devoted to advancing digital equity – the American Rescue Plan Act (ARPA) and the Consolidated Appropriations Act (CAA). 

In early August, legislators in the U.S. Senate passed the Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act, a $1.2 trillion infrastructure package which continues many of the federal programs started by previous relief packages and includes $65 billion more for expanding high-speed Internet infrastructure and connectivity. Members of Congress returned from their summer break on September 20th and U.S. House Representatives are expected to vote on the infrastructure relief bill, which enjoys bipartisan support, on September 30th.

This guide consolidates the different funding opportunities made available through various relief packages to assist communities interested in accessing federal funds to expand broadband infrastructure and digital inclusion services. It updates ILSR’s Community Guide to Broadband Funding released in April of 2021, which describes programs established under ARPA and CAA in more detail, provides additional resources and answers FAQs.

Important upcoming deadlines are bolded throughout this guide. 

Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act – Pending 

Though the legislation is pending in Congress, the version of the Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act passed by the U.S. Senate in August of 2021 includes $65 billion for expanding Internet access and digital inclusion initiatives. The Senate bill takes a more holistic approach to addressing the digital divide than previous relief packages, as it includes...

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Posted August 11, 2021 by Sean Gonsalves

The bipartisan infrastructure bill, which includes $65 billion for expanding access to reliable, high-speed Internet service, passed in the U.S. Senate yesterday. The full text of the bill, posted on U.S. Sen. Krysten Sinema’s (D-Arizona) website, appears to be identical to the draft of the bill detailed here by the law firm Keller & Heckman.

For those of us who favor local Internet choice, the bill is a mixed bag filled with The Good, The Bad, and The Ugly. Let’s start with …

The Good

Of the $65 billion allocated in the bill, $42 billion of that is to fund the deployment of broadband networks in “unserved” and “underserved” parts of the country. The good part of that is the money will be sent to the states to be distributed as grants, which is better than handing it over to the FCC for another reverse auction. The FCC’s track record on reverse auctions is less than encouraging, and state governments are at least one step closer to local communities who have the best information on where broadband funding is needed.

In a nod to community broadband advocates and general common sense, the bill requires States to submit a “5-year action plan” as part of its initial proposal that “shall be informed by collaboration with local and regional entities.” It goes further in saying that those initial proposals should “describe the coordination with local governments, along with local and regional broadband planning processes,” in accordance with the NTIA’s “local coordination requirements.”

And the bill specifically says that when States award the grant money, they “may not exclude cooperatives, nonprofit organizations, public-private partnerships, private companies, public or private utilities, public utility districts, or local governments from eligibility for such grant funds.”

...

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Posted July 26, 2021 by Sean Gonsalves

In case you missed it, earlier this month President Biden signed an executive order that aims to promote competition in the U.S. economy. The order includes 72 initiatives, directing a dozen different federal agencies to promote competition in key sectors. 

The White House published a fact sheet to explain what the EO aims to do. [Read the full factsheet is here]. It begins by pointing out how a "lack of competition drives up prices for consumers," which is why "families are paying higher prices for necessities—things like prescription drugs, hearing aids, and Internet service."

It goes on to say that the order will, among other things, "save Americans money on their Internet bills by banning excessive early termination fees, requiring clear disclosure of plan costs to facilitate comparison shopping, and ending landlord exclusivity arrangements that stick tenants with only a single Internet option."

As you might imagine, we are particularly interested in the section on “Internet Service,” which you can read below:

Internet Service

The Order tackles four issues that limit competition, raise prices, and reduce choices for Internet service.

In the Order, the President encourages the FCC to:

• Prevent ISPs from making deals with landlords that limit tenants’ choices.

Lack of competition among broadband providers: More than 200 million U.S. residents live in an area with only one or two reliable high-speed Internet providers, leading to prices as much as five times higher in these markets than in markets with more options. A related problem is landlords and internet service providers entering...

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Posted April 13, 2021 by Maren Machles

On this episode of the Community Broadband Bits podcast, we're joined by Jonathan Chambers, a partner at Conexon. Conexon has helped rural electric cooperatives build fiber to the home networks since its founding five years ago.

Christopher and Jonathan talk about ideas for how to improve structuring rural broadband subsidies in a way that takes advantage of fiber infrastructure's long life. Jonathan and Chris dig into what this would mean for funding projects, and how it would change the way we think about and approach connecting rural communities in the future.

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.

Read the transcript here.

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) license.

 

Posted April 13, 2021 by Jericho Casper

In the American Rescue Plan Act, Congress and the Biden Administration included a multi-billion dollar appropriation to help expand high-speed Internet access. This guide offers an overview of the different funding opportunities for communities interested in expanding broadband services. As application deadlines vary in some cases and other money must be spent within certain time frames, it is critical for states, municipalities, community organizations, and Tribal governments to start planning initiatives now. 

It’s also worth emphasizing that 18 states still put localities at a disadvantage when it comes to spending anticipated funding effectively by preserving laws that interfere with community investment in broadband infrastructure. Much of this money could also be funneled for other purposes due to a lack of good plans and community engagement. 

The amount of funding flowing into communities is unprecedented. Localities should prepare to spend funds on needed, futureproof infrastructure. This is an historic, once-in-a-lifetime investment in Internet infrastructure and communities who develop a clear, actionable plan and are as ready as possible once the money starts flowing will prosper.

Directory

If you’re a homeowner looking for assistance paying your Internet bill…look to the Emergency Broadband Benefit Program or Homeowner’s Assistance Fund

If you’re an HBCU or Minority-serving institution looking to expand Internet access to your students, or if you’re a minority business enterprise or nonprofit organization in the surrounding community...look to the Connecting Minority Communities Pilot Program.

if you’re a Tribal government, Tribal organization, or Tribal college or university, including native Hawaiian organizations, education programs and native corporations…look to the Tribal Broadband Connectivity Program.

If you’re a city interested in partaking in a public-private partnership…look to the Promote Broadband Expansion Grant Program

If you’re a school or library whose main concern is obtaining remote Internet access devices...look to the Emergency Connectivity Fund.

 

Federal Aid Directly To States, Counties, Localities and Territories

Out of the $1.9 trillion in fiscal relief provided by the...

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Posted December 25, 2020 by Ry Marcattilio

On Episode 265 of the Techdirt podcast, Sonic CEO Dane Jasper joins host Mike Masnik to talk about how the broadband market in the United States is a failed competitive market, how the regulatory environment brought us from a place with thousands of Internet Service Providers (ISPs) to one where the vast majority of households have just one or two options at basic broadband speeds of 25/3 Megabits per second (Mbps), the arbitrariness of imposing usage caps and future of net neutrality, and the array of other interrelated issues that will dictate the way Internet access looks over the next decade.

Listen to it here.

Happy Holidays!

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