Tag: "press center"

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

​Christopher Mitchell
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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Posted September 6, 2017 by Nick

StateScoop - September 6, 2017

Broadband is getting faster and more available -- but is it enough?

Written by Colin Wood

USTelecom released an industry-funded report showing trends in expansion of broadband access. StateScoop’s Colin Wood reached out to Community Broadband Networks initiative director Christopher Mitchell to discuss what this actually means for the millions with a reliable Internet connection or those residents in monopoly service territory.

Christopher’s contributions are here:

USTA shows that 65 percent of households had access to at least two service providers in 2016, but about a quarter of those included in that metric are being measured at the FCC’s rural broadband definition of 10 Mbps download/1 Mbps upload speed. This means the actual figure of those with the ability to choose between broadband providers — using the modern definition of broadband — includes less than half of all households in the country.

It’s obvious that there’s a shortage of market competition, said Christopher Mitchell, director of the Community Broadband Networks Initiative at the Institute for Local Self-Reliance.

“It looks to me like companies that have done too little investment are trying to justify that,” Mitchell said. “The FCC’s numbers, these numbers, they all show most people don’t have a lot of choices.”

The data collected by the FCC used in the report is collected at the census block level, Mitchell said. This means, for example, that a resident who lives near a hospital that has access to broadband but doesn’t necessarily have access himself would be statistically misrepresented as having access. This means the figures presented in the research are maximum values — the actual number of people who have access to these choices is lower.

When the Congress approved the Telecommunications Act of 1996, a landmark law...

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Posted August 24, 2017 by Nick

Morning Consult - August 24, 2017

West Virginia’s Broadband Abyss Spurs Solutions Across Ideological Divide

Written by Mariam Baksh

Christopher Mitchell weighed in on the value of the bill Senators Shelley Moore Capito (R-W.V.) and Kristen Gillibrand (D-N.Y.) introduced in the Senate to channel millions into grants to build out broadband infrastructure for Mariam Baksh’s Morning Consult article.

Christopher Mitchell, who directs the broadband program at the Institute for Local Self Reliance, disagrees. He pointed to what he says is a lack of interest on the part of for-profit companies in sparsely populated areas that don’t promise a return on their investment.

“Tax credits won’t make a dent in anything but state and federal budgets” he said in an email Wednesday. “Building infrastructure in rural areas usually requires a non-profit business plan. That is why government builds roads, co-ops offer electricity, etc. Tax credits don’t help the entities most likely to build good networks in rural areas.”

Mitchell called Capito’s bill from May, which would expand USDA authority to provide loans and grants in rural areas, “a good start.”

“Electric co-ops are the single greatest hope we have to expand high quality internet access across rural areas,” he said.


Read the full story here. 

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Posted August 4, 2017 by lgonzalez

As the new administration’s FCC re-examines Network Neutrality rules, rural communities are wondering how any changes may affect areas in the U.S. that already have difficulties obtaining fast, affordable, reliable Internet service. In a recent Mountain Talk podcast, Mimi Pickering tackles the question by talking to several knowledgeable guests.

In addition to Christopher, Mimi talks with other guests who offer insight into why Network Neutrality is critical to rural areas as we move forward. Rural areas tend to feel impacts harder than urban areas. The show includes audio from past interviews, news reports, and events.

Making Connections News describes the show:

The Federal Communications Commission’s (FCC) move to repeal Net Neutrality and classification of Broadband Internet as a Title II Telecommunications Service could have significant impact on rural America, where the digital divide is already the largest. 

In this edition of Mountain Talk, host Mimi Pickering explores potential impacts with economist Roberto Gallardo from Mississippi State University Extension Services and Christopher Mitchell, Director of Community Broadband Networks at the Institute for Local Self-Reliance. 

We also hear from a 2015 interview with Edyael Casaperalta, representing the Rural Broadband Working Group of the National Rural Assembly, on the 2015 reclassification of Broadband as a Title II Telecommunications Service and its potential to reduce the digital divide, increase competition, and protect consumers. 

Finally, FCC Commissioner Mignon Clyburn talks about her work on the FCC to increase access and affordability for people of color, low income, and rural communities. Her term at the FCC will soon end but she promises to continue to speak for those who are not typically represented and calls on all folks to make their voices heard at the FCC at every opportunity.

Christopher joins the interview at around 30 minutes into the show.

Posted July 18, 2017 by Nick

Ohio Valley ReSource - July 18, 2017

Country Connection: Rural Residents Ask FCC To Improve Internet Access

[Republished in WFPL, WKU - Western Kentucky Radio, West Virginia Public Broadcasting, WKMS Murray State Radio, WEKU FM]

Written by Benny Becker

More than two million people across the Ohio Valley live in areas that lack any option for fast and reliable internet service. This week some of them had a chance to tell a member of the Federal Communications Commission what that means for their work, studies, and everyday life.

The Appalachian Connectivity Summit in Marietta, Ohio, explored possible local solutions. But the event came during a week that also saw large internet providers suing to stop one way to connect more people to broadband service. ...

Net Gains

For more than a decade, Christopher Mitchell has been working on broadband expansion issues with the Minnesota-based Institute for Local Self-Reliance. Mitchell gave the connectivity summit’s keynote address, and Frontier got a mention in his talk.

Mitchell argued that too much of the federal money intended to expand rural internet access goes to large companies who’ve been building substandard networks...

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