Tag: "press center"

Posted February 21, 2017 by lgonzalez

Christopher recently took some time to visit with John Hockenberry on The Takeaway from PRI and WNYC. The conversation covered municipal networks, big cable and telephone monopolies, and how local community initiatives for better connectivity are raising the bar in rural areas.

WNYC wrote about the show: 

Net neutrality advocates got some bad news when Ajit Pai was tapped by President Donald Trump to be chairman of the Federal Communications Commission — it appears that Pai wants to largely reverse the Obama administration's approach to the Internet.

Large telecommunications monopolies have been digging their heels in, but some citizens are fighting back. The Takeaway considers the broadband debates that currently are taking place with Christopher Mitchell, the director of Community Broadband Networks at the Institute for Local Self Reliance.

Listen to the interview; it’s about 4 minutes.

Posted February 20, 2017 by lgonzalez

In January, Governor Bill Haslam announced that he and Senator Mark Norris would introduce legislation to provide grant funding and tax credits to private companies in order to expand rural connectivity in Tennessee. In a recent Knoxville News Sentinel, Christopher took another look at more subsidies to large private providers and how that strategy has worked out so far.

We've reprinted the op-ed here:

Christopher Mitchell: State needs better broadband, not subsidies

If you were tasked with improving the internet access across Tennessee, a good first start would be to examine what is working and what’s not. But when the General Assembly debates broadband, it frequently focuses on what AT&T and Comcast want rather than what is working.

Broadband expansion has turned into a perennial fight between Tennessee’s municipal broadband networks and advocates of better connectivity on one side and AT&T and Comcast on the other. On one side is a taxpayer-subsidized model, while the other depends solely on the revenues of those who choose to subscribe. But which is which?

AT&T has received billions of taxpayer dollars to build its networks, whereas Chattanooga, Tullahoma and Morristown, for example, financed their fiber-optic networks by selling revenue bonds to private investors and repaying them with revenues from their services. The big telephone companies are massively subsidized, whereas municipal networks have generally not used taxpayer dollars.

It is true that after it began building, Chattanooga received a Department of Energy one-time stimulus grant for $111 million, but that was actually less than AT&T is getting from just one federal program in Tennessee alone – over $125 million from the Connect America Fund. And most of the money to Chattanooga went into devices for its smart grid that have since led to massive job gains.

These community networks offer modern connectivity. Chattanooga offers 10,000 Mbps to anyone in its territory. AT&T is getting enormous checks from Uncle Sam to deliver 10 Mbps. Comcast will soon offer 1,000 Mbps, but only for downloads. If you are a small business trying to upload lots of data, Comcast won’t get you there.

According to a 2016 Consumer Reports study, Comcast and AT&T were among the most hated companies across the board. Chattanooga’s Electric...

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Posted February 17, 2017 by Nick

FierceTelecom - February 15, 2017

Telco, cable-backed Missouri bill could limit municipal broadband growth, opposition group says

 

Written by Sean Buckley

A new broadband battle is brewing in Missouri as the state’s largest telcos and cable operators are backing a new bill to limit municipal broadband.

The new bill, SB 186, which was introduced by Senator Ed Emery, R-Lamar, seeks to limit the power of municipalities to provide competition to entrenched incumbent service providers.

SB 186, according to the Institute for Local Self-Reliance, imposes restrictions on local governments to provide retail and wholesale bandwidth services.

“This legislation is trying to cut off communities at every turn by limiting any sort of ‘competitive service,’ whether it comes from public broadband infrastructure investment or a public-private partnership” said Christopher Mitchell of the Institute for Local Self-Reliance in a statement. “Missouri should be encouraging investment and local Internet choice, not working with monopoly lobbyists to prevent it.”

...

Read the full story here.

Posted February 16, 2017 by Nick

Gizmodo - February 16, 2017

 

What Happened to Google Fiber?

 

Written by Libby Watson

For a long time, Google Fiber was the most exciting broadband provider out there. Cities wanted it, tech people drooled over it; and on a loftier level, it even promised to help bridge the “digital divide” between rich and poor. But now, things are looking bleak: Yesterday, Bloomberg reported that Google Fiber is being scaled back dramatically (again) as it named Greg McCray its new CEO, with “several hundred” of its employees in that division being sent to other areas of the company.

...

What that means is, as Christopher Mitchell, director of the Community Broadband Networks Project at the Institute for Local Self-Reliance told Gizmodo, “the new guy gets screwed.” Google Fiber complained in a blog post last year that it had only been able to upgrade 33 telephone poles out of 88,000 in Nashville, thanks to these rules. Google has pushed hard to promote a different policy, known as “one touch make ready,” which would allow a single provider to make all those changes in one go.

But that hasn’t been plain sailing either, with incumbent providers like AT&T and Charter filing lawsuits left and right in cities that adopt the policy. AT&T’s complaints with the policy have ranged from Google providing inaccurate information on poles, to saying it could lead to service disruption if there are mistakes, to objecting that it would allow changes to poles they own “without AT&T’s consent and with little notice.”

It’s not that Google doesn’t have the money to fight these things, but it might not have been worth the resources to try and seriously compete with an incumbent provider on this issue—particularly when those providers are already so entrenched in the policy scene. In Tennessee, AT&T employed five times as many lobbyists as Google did last year—25 to Google’s five.

Another problem that’s faced Google Fiber: convincing people to sign up. According to Mitchell, while customers love the super fast speeds once they get them, it’s often hard to convince people to switch “even from a provider they hate,” because they don’t have time to wait at home for installation or spend time on the phone with their provider. Switching is a pain in the ass, basically. While...

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Posted February 14, 2017 by Nick

Date: November 2nd, 2017

Comcast Spends Big on Local Elections in Seattle & Fort Collins

The telecom giant would lose millions in revenue from real competition, new ILSR report says

Contact:​Christopher Mitchellchristopher@ilsr.org612-545-5185​ MINNEAPOLIS, MINN. -- Comcast has a lot to lose from competition in broadband Internet access. That’s why the telecommunications giant is spending big in municipal elections in Seattle and Fort Collins to maintain its monopoly on broadband Internet access. The Institute for Local Self-Reliance’s latest policy brief shows that Comcast could lose from $5.4 to $22.8 million per year in Fort Collins and between $20 and $84 millionper year in Seattle if faced with real competition.

In Seattle, Comcast faces absolutely no competition in four of the ten census blocks it offers broadband service. In 73 percent of the blocks with competition, there’s only one other option, according to FCC data. Comcast joined incumbent telephone company CenturyLink with a $50,000 donation supporting preferred candidate, who just happens to oppose a municipal fiber network. Local group Upgrade Seattle is holding an event at Seattle City Hall on November 2nd to rename the building Comcast City Hall because the cable giant’s remarkable influence.

In Fort Collins, the state cable association and Chamber of Commerce had already spent over $200,000 (with 2 weeks left before the referendum) opposing an effort simply allow the city to later create a telecommunications utility. Comcast is a powerful member of both organizations and has a history of pushing its policies through such organizations

Evidence from other cities helps highlight that Comcast may actually be under-spending relative to how real choice in...

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Posted February 13, 2017 by Nick

Date: February 13th, 2017

Missouri Bill Seeks to Limit Municipal Authority

Prohibiting "Competitive Service" from Municipalities Harms Missourians, Benefits Incumbent Service Providers

Contact:

Christopher Mitchell

christopher@ilsr.org

612-545-5185

 

MINNEAPOLIS, MN - Another year in Missouri and another bill from the big telephone companies to limit broadband competition in the state house. The bill introduced by Senator Ed Emery (R-Lamar), SB 186, seeks to limit the power of municipalities to provide competition to entrenched incumbent Internet Service Providers.

SB 186 imposes unworkable restrictions on local governments to prevent "competitive service," which includes both retail and wholesale models - preventing municipalities from working with private sector partners. The bill establishes onerous hurdles for communities attempting to engage in a feasibility study and discourages them from pursuing a chance to serve their residents, businesses, and municipal facilities. Much of this bill's language comes from last year's rejected HB 2078.

"This legislation is trying to cut off communities at every turn by limiting any sort of 'competitive service,' whether it comes from public broadband infrastructure investment or a public-private partnership," says Christopher Mitchell of the Institute for Local Self-Reliance. "Missouri should be encouraging investment and local Internet choice, not working with monopoly lobbyists to prevent it."

Some 20 states have limits on local authority to build networks and Missouri is already one of them. This bill would further limit local Internet choice despite incredibly successful municipal networks across the state - that is why a number of tech companies in and outside of Missouri have ...

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Posted February 8, 2017 by Nick

Cambridge Community Television - February 8, 2017

 

Cambridge Broadband Matters: The Future of Community Broadband

 

Hosted by Pat McCormick

 

See the original story here.

Posted February 6, 2017 by Nick

Berkshire Eagle - February 4, 2017

 

Eagle Eye Team Report: Broadband expansion languishes in Berkshires

 

Written by Larry Parnass & Patricia LeBoeuf

Nearly 10 years ago, Gov. Deval Patrick came to Becket with a promise of information-age equity: broadband internet service across Western Massachusetts. By 2011, he said.

And yet the “digital divide” persists.

...

 

OUTSIDE RECOMMENDATIONS

 

Christopher Mitchell, director of the Community Broadband Networks Initiative for the Institute for Local Self-Reliance, has studied the issue nationally from his base in Minnesota.

Governments can and should build their own broadband networks, he said.

“Getting high-quality internet is not the first time we’ve done this. We electrified the entire country and did it in a fiscally responsible manner,” he said.

Rather than start with a middle mile, Mitchell thinks Massachusetts should have fostered last-mile connections with alternative ways of connecting to distant trunk lines on the internet. And when it comes to local town networks, he believes people should think of what’s best locally.

...

Read the full story here.

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Berkshire Eagle - February 6, 2017

 

Inside the broadband meltdown: WiredWest retools after losing faceoff with MBI

 

Written by Larry Parnass

A broadband vision for the Berkshires crashed and burned one afternoon in December 2015.

A year later, people still poke through the wreckage. They want to understand why the Massachusetts Broadband Institute halted its long-running alliance with WiredWest, a nonprofit, grassroots cooperative that had signed up dozens of towns to build and operate a shared internet network.

...

 

MUTUAL BENEFITS

 

Nakajima, the former MBI executive director, said the initial WiredWest plan did possess an element of “genius.” That lay, he said, in its hope to...

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Posted January 25, 2017 by Nick

Date: January 25th, 2017

Update: Virginia Bill (Still) Seeks to Limit Municipal Authority

Delegate Byron's "Virginia Broadband Deployment Act" Harms Everyone But Cable Monopolies

Contact:

Christopher Mitchell

christopher@ilsr.org

612-545-5185

 

MINNEAPOLIS, MN - The saga of limiting broadband competition in Virginia continues. Gov. Terry McAuliffe announced he would veto HB 2108 in its current form because the goal of connecting Virginians requires "encouraging competition, not stifling it." In response, Delegate Kathy J. Byron (R-Forest) introduced a substantially edited bill, which still attacks municipal broadband entities across the state.

HB 2108 imposes burdens on local governments when they begin to solicit proposals for better Internet service, directly harming localities that are desperate for more investment. The bill still gives an edge to private providers by ensuring municipal actors must share their trade secrets. It also opens up local governments to lawsuits for perceived service issues as well as limiting private investment in Internet connectivity. These restrictions functionally ensure that it is impossible for municipal networks to develop and offer competition to the cable monopolies.

"There is nothing about this bill that helps rural Virginia get better connected," says Christopher Mitchell of the Institute for Local Self-Reliance. "It is entirely about locking down rural markets for companies like AT&T that want to continue profiting from them while refusing to invest in modern connections. These communities are already disadvantaged because they lack access to high-quality, affordable Internet service."

Some 20 states have limit on local authority to build networks and Virginia is already one of them. This bill would further limit local Internet choice despite incredibly successful municipal...

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Posted January 25, 2017 by Nick

Ars Technica - January 25,2017

Google and Netflix join fight against municipal broadband restrictions

Written by Jon Brodkin

Google and Netflix joined a handful of advocacy groups and other companies lobbying against a proposed Virginia state law that would make it far more difficult for municipalities to offer Internet service.

As we previously reported, the "Virginia Broadband Deployment Act" would prohibit municipal broadband deployments except in very limited circumstances. For example, localities wouldn't be allowed to offer Internet service to residents if an existing network already provides 10Mbps download and 1Mbps upload speeds to 90 percent of potential customers. Even if that condition is met, municipalities would have to jump through several legal hoops before being allowed to build a network.

...

"A number of local governments have already passed resolutions condemning the legislative attack on their right to make local telecommunications decisions and we expect to see more," the Institute for Local Self-Reliance's Community Networks project wrote Monday. The 10Mbps/1Mbps speeds specified in the legislation are "reminiscent of antiquated DSL," the group said.

...

Read the full story here.

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