Tag: "press center"

Posted November 12, 2017 by Kelsey Henquinet

On November 8th, 2017, voters in 19 Colorado communities chose local telecommunications authority with an average rate of 83 percent. Now, a total of 117 Colorado communities opt out of the restrictive, anti-municipal broadband state law, SB 152. For years, we at ILSR have been covering the developments in Colorado as voters reclaim local telecommunications authority.

The media, both locally and nationally, took notice of our efforts.

Here's a roundup of stories in which national, state, and local outlets cited our work and provided information to ensure this vital issue gained coverage. Read more in our story covering the votes.

MEDIA COVERAGE - "19 Colorado Communities Opt out of Restrictive State Broadband Law"

Pre-Election Coverage: 

Big Telecom Spent $200,000 to Try to Prevent a Colorado Town From Even Talking About a City-Run Internet by Kaleigh Rogers, Motherboard- October 25, 2017

"There are two explanations: one is that all of the cable companies in the state feel very strongly about drawing a line in the sand now, after 100 communities have already made this decision," Christopher Mitchell, Community Broadband Networks initiative director at the Institute for Local Self-Reliance, said over the phone. "Or Comcast is the one pushing it, and we've seen that in countless states before."

Activists target Comcast over municipal broadband in Seattle, Colorado by Bob Fernandez, The Philly Inquirer - November 6, 2017

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Posted November 8, 2017 by Nick

Date: November 8, 2017

Colorado Voters Once Again Reject Monopolies in Internet Service at the Ballot Box

All 18 voting communities opt out of restrictive state law, Fort Collins ensures municipal utility can provide broadband service

Contact:

​Christopher Mitchell

christopher@ilsr.org

612-545-5185​

MINNEAPOLIS, MINN. -- Voters across the state of Colorado have, once again, rejected big telecom by opting out of a restrictive state law. SB 152, which limits the ability of Coloradoans to explore high-speed municipal broadband has been in place since 2005, thanks to big telecom’s political heft.

As of Wednesday morning, we are prepared to announce that all 18 communities, plus Fort Collins have passed their measures by an average margin of 82.72%, and we are confirming and monitoring these results.

“We have seen overwhelming support for local Internet choice in Colorado” says Christopher Mitchell, director of the Community Broadband Networks initiative at the Institute for Local Self-Reliance. “These cities and counties recognize that they cannot count on Comcast and CenturyLink alone to meet local needs, which is why you see overwhelming support even in an off-year election.”

The 18 communities who voted to opt out of SB 152 join approximately 100 other Colorado communities that have, over the past few years, asserted their own local authority over Internet service. Now these communities have the option to improve their Internet service, allowing for a crucial economic development activity. (See our detailed map below, available for republication with attribution - just email stumolanger@ilsr.org)

In Fort Collins yesterday, a high margin of voters supported an amendment to their city charter which will ease the way for their municipal utility to offer high-speed telecommunications...

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Posted November 6, 2017 by Nick

Date: November 6th, 2017

Colorado Communities Set to Reclaim Local Authority, Rebuff Internet Access Monopolies

18 communities across the state will vote to join nearly 100 of their fellows in investigating Internet infrastructure investments

Contact:

​Christopher Mitchell, christopher@ilsr.org

612-545-5185​

MINNEAPOLIS, MINN -- Tomorrow, 18 communities across Colorado will be voting to reclaim their local authority to end broadband monopolies. Since 2008, nearly 100 communities across Colorado have opted out of a restrictive state law (SB 152) which limits the ability of Coloradans to explore high-speed municipal broadband. This year is no different.

We at the Institute for Local Self-Reliance have a full list of those voting on the opt out measures. Additionally Fort Collins, who opted out of SB 152 in the fall of 2015, has a ballot referendum to establish a municipal utility that offers high-speed Internet service. We’ll be following that closely as well.

“These ballot initiatives are a crucial step toward better Internet access throughout Colorado,” says Christopher Mitchell, director of the Community Broadband Networks initiative at the Institute for Local Self-Reliance. “Local governments are smart to reclaim the authority they need to ensure local businesses and residents aren’t stuck with cable monopolies.”

Communities across Colorado have long benefited from municipal networks. Cortez has brought real competition to its local businesses. Longmont has one of the lowest priced, highest quality services in the nation. Rural Rio Blanco has fiber optic and wireless connections that have brought a real choice in high quality Internet access to much of a very rural county. Many more communities are exploring the opportunities that a municipal network offers, including those who voted last November (all of whom passed their measures). Here’s our map of last year’s voting communities:

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Posted November 6, 2017 by Nick

Date: November 6, 2017

Comcast Sets Fort Collins Election Spending Record Opposing Broadband Competition

The Colorado Cable Telecommunications Association is spending almost half a million to deny residents a real choice in broadband Internet access

Contact:
​Christopher Mitchell
612-545-5185​

Campaign Spending Update - 11/6/2017: On November 3rd, Comcast's front group Priorities First filed their most recent campaign report. The report showed that the group spent and additional $256,326 on the Fort Collins campaign between October 23rd and November 1st. This brings big incumbent spending to stop compeition to almost half a million dollars. More information here

MINNEAPOLIS, MINN. -- Big cable is trying to buy Fort Collins' local election. A group largely funded by the state cable association, Colorado Cable Telecommunications Association, submitted its campaign finance report two weeks prior to the election, revealing an enormous amount of outside spending for a local ballot referendum.
 
The referendum would allow the city to create and operate a telecommunications utility as well as partner with an independent company to expand Internet options in the city. But the dominant provider already in Fort Collins, Comcast, strongly opposes such a move and is almost certainly the driving force behind the Chamber of Commerce and CCTA spending so much to oppose more broadband investment.
 
In the months leading up to this referendum Comcast was caught lying about the status of nearby Longmont's municipal fiber network. Comcast misrepresented Longmont's services, prices, and the way Comcast responded to...
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Posted October 31, 2017 by Nick

StateScoop - October 31, 2017

Verizon asks FCC to preempt states on Internet privacy

Written by Colin Wood

Verizon is at it again, not just in unsubscribing rural users, but in undermining the Internet privacy protections that states passed in the wake of Congress' repeal of the regulations that kept telecommunications giants from selling your data to advertisers.

StateScoop's Colin Wood reached out to Christopher Mitchell to discuss this trend and the power of monopoly corporations in our economy.

Here are Christopher's contributions:

The FCC may have preemption authority over states on some issues, but this isn't one of them, Rinehart said.

Federal authority notwithstanding, the creation of a patchwork of internet privacy laws could create a more complex landscape for policy and enforcement. If privacy laws vary depending on the user's exact location, it would require the collection of geolocation data, which can be spoofed and is not always accurate.

Verizon borrows language from federal code to underscore its argument, saying that its request is one that serves “to preserve the vibrant and competitive free market that presently exists for the internet.”

And while Rinehart conceded that there is something to Verizon's claim of a potential patchwork of state and local privacy regulations, others say this is simply a case of the states taking back the protections they were owed from the start.

Big telecom companies have ignored "overwhelming demand" for privacy protections for consumers for years, Christopher Mitchell, director of the Community Broadband Networks Initiative at the Institute for Local Self-Reliance, told StateScoop in an email.

"Given how many times Verizon, among others, have violated the trust of their customers, it is inevitable that local and...

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Posted October 25, 2017 by Nick

Date: October 25th, 2017

Comcast Spends Big to Oppose Broadband Competition in Fort Collins

The Colorado Cable Telecommunications Association is spending hundreds of thousands to deny residents a real choice in broadband Internet access

Contact:
​Christopher Mitchell
612-545-5185​
 
MINNEAPOLIS, MINN. -- Big cable is trying to buy Fort Collins' local election. A group largely funded by the state cable association, Colorado Cable Telecommunications Association, submitted its campaign finance report today, revealing an enormous amount of outside spending for a local ballot referendum.
 
The referendum would allow the city to create and operate a telecommunications utility as well as partner with an independent company to expand Internet options in the city. But the dominant provider already in Fort Collins, Comcast, strongly opposes such a move and is almost certainly the driving force behind the Chamber of Commerce and CCTA spending so much to oppose more broadband investment.
 
In the months leading up to this referendum Comcast was caught lying about the status of nearby Longmont's municipal fiber network. Comcast misrepresented Longmont's services, prices, and the way Comcast responded to competition there by lowering its rates.
 
"This isn't the first time we've seen this situation happen," says Christopher Mitchell, director of the Institute for Local Self-Reliance's Community Broadband Networks initiative. "CCTA also spent hundreds of thousands to preserve their monopoly in Longmont, but voters were savvy enough to ignore their lies."  The CCTA's investments in Longmont were covered by the Washington Post in...
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Posted October 20, 2017 by Nick

Telecompetitor - October 20, 2017

Municipal Gigabit 2.0? San Francisco, Seattle Consider Increased City Investment

Written by Joan Engebretson

Two giant west coast cities, San Francisco and Seattle, are seriously considering more investment in Internet connectivity investment. Joan Engebretson of Telecompetitor covers this interest by positing these investments as the next step in real municipal investment for gigabit service.

Christopher Mitchell contributed to her coverage:

Could this be Municipal Gigabit 2.0? Two West coast cities, San Francisco and Seattle, are exploring new models for bringing ubiquitous gigabit to their constituents – models that would entail a higher level of city investment.

Big city gigabit rollouts to date have been achieved largely through private investment. But that could be changing now that gigabit pioneer Google Fiber has scaled back its deployment plans and cities have begun to question whether they can improve on the $70 a month or higher price that commercial network operators typically charge for gigabit service.

Google and other network operators began deploying gigabit services when cities began relaxing permitting procedures and, importantly, eliminating or relaxing requirements for networks to be deployed citywide. Cities now seem to be questioning the wisdom of allowing operators to cherry pick the neighborhoods in which they deploy gigabit services. And the revelation that Google may not roll out gigabit throughout Kansas City as originally planned could drive cities to rethink those policies.

“Universal access is a major factor” in why cities may rethink their broadband...

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Posted October 17, 2017 by Nick

Michigan Radio - October 17, 2017

Bill would bar Michigan communities from using public money for internet infrastructure

Written by Virginia Gordan

Freshman Michigan state representative Michele Hoitenga (R-Manton) introduced a bill that would essentially block any investment into communities wanting to better their Internet connectivity. With this off-season state legislative activity, Michigan Radio reporter Virginia Gordan reached out to gain Christopher Mitchell's national perspective on how these restrictive state bills end up.

Christopher's contributions are below:

Critics of the bill say it would harm Michigan communities with inadequate internet access and hurt their economic development.

According to Christopher Mitchell, Director of the Community Broadband Networks Initiative with the Institute of Local Self Reliance, the bill would leave the businesses in underserved communities less competitive, hurt their children's education, and result in declining property values.

Mitchell said the bill is about private providers' fear of broadband competition and of local communities' providing faster and more reliable service at the same or lower prices.

"If they face any competition, then they're either going to have to lose those customers or invest significantly to keep them. So the big companies want to prevent that," said Mitchell. "The other concern, even in areas where they don't have customers, is the threat of a good example."

Hoitenga said she expects the bill to be substantially amended after hearings take place next week before the House Communications and Technology Committee, which she chairs. She said her goal is to improve internet access throughout Michigan, and she introduced this bill to spark a conversation.

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Posted October 16, 2017 by Nick

Date: October 16th, 2017

HB 5099 Seeks to Disallow Communities from Using Federal, State, or Local Funds to Improve Connectivity

Michigan Representative Hoitenga (R-Manton) introduces bill to curb local options for improving Internet access

Contact:​Christopher Mitchellchristopher@ilsr.org612-545-5185​ MINNEAPOLIS, MINN. -- Representative Michele Hoitenga (R-Manton) introduced HB 5099, decreeing that local communities cannot invest federal, state, or even their own funds into the basics of Internet access infrastructure. Full coverage of the bill from MuniNetworks.org is here. Many communities in Michigan lack adequate Internet access for local businesses and residents to thrive in the modern digital economy. Though many have tried to encourage more private-sector investment, some have found the best approach would be to invest in themselves, much as thousands of communities did 100 years ago to get the full benefits of electricity. "Hoitenga's bill would leave many communities without any hope of better Internet access, leaving their businesses less competitive, children disadvantaged, and property value declining," says Christopher Mitchell, director of the Community Broadband Networks initiative at the Institute for Local Self-Reliance. With a slight exception for public-private partnerships, the bill's ambiguous language limits infrastructure investment that would be necessaty to attract a partner to work with a community. Michigan already has a significant barrier to local investment in place, forcing communities to appeal to the private sector and only moving forward themselves if they receive fewer than three qualified bids. However, several Michigan communities are already making a difference for their residents and improving the livelihood of their towns. We document them in detail here, explore our resoruces on Sebewaing, ...

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Posted September 19, 2017 by Nick

Motherboard Vice - September 19, 2017

Verizon Abandoning 8,500 Rural Customers Is Proof That Wireless Is Not Broadband

Written by Kaleigh Rogers

As we've covered on the site, Verizon Wireless is discontinuing rural subscriber accounts in 13 states. Motherboard Vice's Kaleigh Rogers reached out to Christopher Mitchell to discuss what this means for mobile broadband access dockets up in front of the FCC and how rural subscribers will fall through the cracks.

His contributions are below:

The issue is that, in many rural and remote communities, Verizon had partnered with smaller, local carriers. Verizon would lease spectrum rights to the regional partners, which would let Verizon customers use those local networks for free if they were outside of Verizon's range (they might have Verizon coverage at work but not at home, for example). But Verizon had to pay roaming fees for this deal, and seems to have miscalculated how expensive those fees would be, particularly with the popularity of unlimited data plans.

"In a lot of these places, people are on Verizon because they don't have any other options," said Christopher Mitchell, director of community broadband networks for the Institute for Local Self-Reliance, a nonprofit that advocates for local solutions for sustainable development. "They probably want to have a good, fixed access like cable or fiber. So when Verizon kicks them off, they have nowhere else to go. They were already on their last resort."

Mitchell pointed out that the timing of this purge is significant, because it coincides with the last few days the public has to submit comments to the FCC on a proposal to change the definitions of broadband to include wireless...

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