Tag: "jim baller"

Posted August 8, 2019 by Katie Kienbaum

Municipal broadband networks already serve more than 500 communities across the country, but some states are trying to keep that number from growing. Nineteen states have established legal barriers or even outright bans on publicly owned networks, according to well-respected communications law firm Baller Stokes & Lide.

These state laws, often enacted at the behest of large telecom monopolies, slow the development of community owned connectivity in various ways. From Alabama to Wisconsin, states have implemented everything from direct prohibitions on municipal networks to oppressive restrictions and requirements that limit competition.

The outlook for municipal connectivity may be starting to improve though, despite incorrect reports that state-level broadband preemption increased over the past year. Baller Stoke & Lide’s list of states with restrictions on municipal broadband investment actually shrunk this year from 20 states to 19 — a result of downgrading Colorado’s SB 152 from bonafide barrier to mere annoyance. Still, barriers to community networks remain in more than a third of all states, leaving millions of Americans unconnected and tens of millions more without local Internet choice.

Bans, Blocks, and Burdens

Common approaches to preempting municipal broadband networks range from straightforward bans to confusing financial restrictions and complicated legal requirements. While some states have established one main barrier to community broadband, many more have adopted a bird’s nest of regulations that kill any possibility of municipal connectivity, if only because of the legal uncertainty created by complex and vague laws.

Out of the 19 states with restrictions on municipal networks, a few explicitly ban local governments from providing communications services to their citizens. In Nevada, only municipalities with less than 25,000 people and counties with less than 55,000 people can offer telecommunications services. Both Arkansas and Tennessee bar municipalities without electric utilities from providing Internet access in most situations. Yet other states restrict where government utilities can deploy broadband or what types of services they can offer...

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Posted August 6, 2019 by lgonzalez

An increasing number of local communities are investigating ways to improve connectivity through municipal networks. Some of these communities must find a way to overcome state laws that preclude them from investing in broadband infrastructure, or have established requirements that make doing so prohibitive. Recently, we’ve seen reports on state laws that inflate the number of states with these types of preemptive barriers in place. It's important that folks researching options for their communities get accurate information, so we decided it was time to address the confusion and recent state changes.

This week, Christopher and our Communications Specialist Jess Del Fiacco critique a list of states with preemptive barriers created by BroadbandNow. While we consider BroadbandNow a great resource, their definition of what makes a barrier goes a little farther than what is generally accepted among municipal network policy advocates. Christopher and Jess explain our definition and discusses the more general criteria BroadbandNow has adopted. 

Jess and Christopher also discuss why we decided to remove a couple of states from our list, reducing it from 21 to 19. They offer recent examples of state legislation that rolled back tight restrictions and the reasoning behind those changes. Finally, Christopher and Jess talk about ongoing efforts, places where there is still significant risk of increased restrictions, and possible outcomes for state or federal preemptions that may reduce state barriers.

For details on the specific state laws that limit local authority, be sure to check out the most recent version of...

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Posted February 27, 2019 by lgonzalez

Earlier this month, we learned about a Senate bill in the Arkansas State Legislature that, in it’s original form, would have rescinded state restrictions preventing many municipalities from improving local connectivity. After amendments, SB 150 lost most of its effectiveness, but the bill that became law this week is still a small step in the right direction for a state where the rate of broadband connectivity is some of the lowest in the country.

Beginning Promise

For years, Arkansas has been one of the states that doesn’t allow government entities from providing broadband services to the public. The ban specifically disallowed “directly or indirectly, basic local exchange, voice, data, broadband, video, or wireless telecommunication service.” There has always been an exception to the ban for communities that have their own electric or cable utilities and want to offer telecommunications services. No municipality may offer basic exchange service, interpreted as telephone service.

Only a few communities have taken advantage of the legal exception, such as Paragould, Clarksville, and Conway. In recent years, electric cooperatives are deploying in rural areas, but many of the state’s rural residents rely on DSL, fixed wireless, and satellite. In the few more populous communities, there may also be scattered cable connections available. 

seal-arkansas.png Even though large incumbent ISPs have collected federal grant funding in the past, deployment in Arkansas has been inadequate to connect all Arkansans. According to the FCC, connectivity to households is near the bottom of the list.

SB 150 is one of several bills introduced by the Republican Woman’s Legislative Caucus as part of their “Dream Big” initiative. Other bills in the initiative...

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Posted June 18, 2018 by lgonzalez

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 April 27, 2018 by lgonzalez

Is it here already?! Next week is the 2018 Broadband Communities Summit in Austin, Texas. Will you be there? You can still register online for the the event; this year the discussions will concentrate on FIBER: Putting your Gigs To Work.

Check out the agenda for all the scheduled panels, lectures, and discussions.

There's still time to get there so you can see Christopher and other experts, such as Jim Baller, Joanne Hovis, Catharine Rice, and Deb Socia. This is an opportunity to ask experts the questions you've been pondering and hear opinions from different perspectives in the industry.

On May 1st at 3p.m., Christopher will be part of the "Economic Development Track Blue Ribbon Panel" along with Nicol Turner-Lee, Ph.D., from the Center for Technology Innovation Brookings Institution and Will Rhinehart, Director of Technology and Innovation Policy at the American Action Forum. Lev Gonick, CIO from Arizona State University, will be leading the discussion.

Look for Christopher to participate in other discussions and sit in on other panels. You can also check out who else will be speaking at the Summit; it’s a long list that covers a broad range of expertise.

If you're able to arrive by April 30th, you can make the Coalition for Local Internet Choice Special Program (CLIC). CLIC will to bring community leaders from different organizations and entities across the U.S. to discuss the growing importance of local authority. There will be a panel discussion on local authority and preemption featuring a talk about Westminster and their award winning partnership with Ting Internet. Christopher will also be part of the CLIC program - look for him.

The Summit only comes around once a year and it's a great time to get caught up and connect with new people. So much has happened in the past year, it will be a challenge to take it all in, but you'll definitely have fun trying.

...

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Posted April 16, 2018 by lgonzalez

The Broadband Deployment Advisory Council (BDAC), established by the FCC in January 2017, has caused concern among groups interested in protecting local authority. On April 12th, the Coalition for Local Internet Choice (CLIC) voiced those concerns in a precisely worded letter to Ajit Pai’s FCC that spelled out the way the BDAC is running roughshod over local rights.

Read the letter here.

Leaving Out The Locals

As CLIC states in the beginning of their letter, the lack of local representation on the BDAC indicates that the FCC has little interest in hearing from cities, towns, and other local government. There’s plenty of representation on the Council, however, from corporations and private carriers. 

From CLIC’s letter:

The audacity and impropriety of the process is clear from the fact that this entity, comprised primarily of corporate and carrier interests, is empowered by the Commission to develop model codes that could potentially impact every locality and state in the United States without any serious input from the communities it will most affect.

This group of individuals has been tasked with developing model codes that may be adopted at the local level; local input is not only necessary to create policies that are consider the needs of local folks, but that will work. To achieve productivity, BDAC needs to understand the environments in which their proposals may be adopted, otherwise their goal to be increasing broadband deployment may be compromised. Omitting a broad local perspective is not only improper it’s counterproductive.

Work Product

logo-fcc.PNG The BDAC has already released a draft model state code, which has stirred up resistance and CLIC explains why. A key problem with the legislation is that it doesn’t appear to be backed up with anything other than philosophies, ideals, or self-interest, writes CLIC. Policy this important should be based on data.

They lay out eight specific and definable reasons why the proposed legislation falls flat for local communities.

1. The...

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Posted April 9, 2018 by lgonzalez

Spring refuses to appear here in Minnesota, home of ILSR’s Community Broadband Networks Initiative team. The lingering snow and ice makes the 2018 Broadband Communities Summit seem super nice — it will be located in warm, sunny Austin. You can still register online for the opportunity to attend the event; this year’s theme is FIBER: Putting your Gigs To Work.

The program has been taking shape as new panelists and topics have been added to the agenda for the 4-day event.

As usual, Christopher will be at the event to answer questions, direct conversations, and tackle both new and persisting issues that relate to connectivity. On May 1st at 3p.m., he’ll be presenting as part of the "Economic Development Track Blue Ribbon Panel" along with Nicol Turner-Lee, Ph.D., from the Center for Technology Innovation Brookings Institution and Will Rhinehart, Director of Technology and Innovation Policy at the American Action Forum. Lev Gonick, CIO from Arizona State University, will be leading the discussion.

Later that day, Christopher will also be leading a panel titled "Creating a Tech Ecosystem," which brings together community leaders from different areas of the country who discuss the elements that complement broadband infrastructure. They have a conversation that includes supporting start-ups, developing a tech workforce, investors, incubators, accelerators and youth/adult tech programs. 

Look for Christopher to participate in other discussions and sit in on other panels. You can also check out who else will be speaking at the Summit; it’s a long list that covers a broad range of expertise.

So Many Topics

A few of the other topics that will be tossed around by the long list of presenters include:

  • Electric Cooperatives
  • Open Access
  • IoT
  • MDUs
  • Rural Broadband

Topics are organized into tracks, so if you're attending the Summit in search of answers related to a specific area, it's easier to organize your day. If you're interests are broader, you may have a hard time deciding which panels and discussions to attend.

CLIC Special Program

The first day of the event, the Coalition for Local Internet Choice (CLIC)...

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Posted March 14, 2018 by lgonzalez

Don't forget about the Broadband Communities Summit coming up in April. The weather should be optimal in Austin, Texas, for shaking off winter blahs. From April 30th - May 3rd, attendees will be learning all about FIBER: Putting Your Gigs To Work at the Renaissance Hotel; you can still make it if you register online.

The agenda has developed nicely since we first told you about the event a month ago. View it here

CLIC For Results

On the afternoon of the first day, the Coalition for Local Internet Choice (CLIC) will be ready to present a special program, The Vital Role of Local Choice.

Great nations are built on great cities and towns. Over the last few years, communities across America have come to realize that their ability to achieve greatness, or even success, in the years ahead will depend on their ability to acquire affordable access to fiber-rich communications networks.

...

We will continue to help members of CLIC and our allies to be as effective as possible in opposing barriers to local Internet choice.  Emphasizing the positive, we will showcase successful local initiatives reflecting the benefits of local control for the community’s economic and broadband future. We will discuss the factual and legal arguments that work best in refuting the new wave of objections to community broadband and public-private partnerships. And we will finish with a deep dive into the experience of a small rural community that furnishes – an excellent example of how the public and private sectors working together can build a great community and an inclusive and advanced workforce. 

Difficult To Choose

Christopher will present at several panels, as part of the Economic Development Track Blue Ribbon Panel, which kicks off the economic development track on Tuesday, May 1st at 3.p.m. central time. He'll also be stepping in to other conversations to answer questions and propose them to some of the other experts on hand.

Broadband Communities Summits are known for the broad range of discussion issues:

  • Electric Cooperatives
  • Open Access
  • IoT
  • MDUs...
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Posted February 9, 2018 by lgonzalez

Spring is the season for the Broadband Communities Summit. This year, attendees will be able to shake off the cold weather in Austin, Texas from April 30th - May 3rd at the Renaissance Hotel. The theme is FIBER: Putting Your Gigs To Work; online registration is open.

Organizers are still finalizing the agenda as they add interesting content to panels and workshops, but you can view it as it develops here

CLIC On It

Note that on the afternoon of day one, the Coalition for Local Internet Choice (CLIC) will present a special preconference session. Their experts, including our Christopher Mitchell, will discuss the need for local authority as it relates to local broadband infrastructure. There will also be a discussion that looks into the public-private partnership between Westminster, Maryland, and Ting Internet, an arrangement that reveals shared risk and reward.

We will continue to help members of CLIC and our allies to be as effective as possible in opposing barriers to local Internet choice.  Emphasizing the positive, we will showcase successful local initiatives reflecting the benefits of local control for the community’s economic and broadband future. We will discuss the factual and legal arguments that work best in refuting the new wave of objections to community broadband and public-private partnerships. And we will finish with a deep dive into the experience of a small rural community that furnishes – an excellent example of how the public and private sectors working together can build a great community and an inclusive and advanced workforce. 

Variety

Christopher will be presenting at several other panels, including as part of the Economic Development Track Blue Ribbon Panel, which kicks off the economic development track on Tuesday, May 1st at 3.p.m. central time. 

As with every Broadband Communities Summit, there will be a wide range of topics and guests. Look for discussions on:

  • Electric Cooperatives
  • Open Access
  • IoT
  • MDUs
  • Rural Broadband
  • Healthcare
  • Smart Policies to Encourage Deployment
  • Legal Issues that...
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Posted July 9, 2016 by Scott

"Fiber For The New Economy" will be the theme of  Broadband Communities' annual regional conference which is scheduled from Oct. 18th to 20th in Minneapolis.

The conference will explore the hottest developments in fiber and economic development with panel discussions and workshop sessions on such topics as Google Fiber, incumbent and other provider deployments, and public-private projects, according to Jim Baller, the conference’s economic development chairman.

There will also be sessions about developments in “major verticals,” including health care, education and energy, adds Baller, who is also co-founder and president of the Coalition for Local Internet Choice

The conference will focus on broadband activities and projects in primarily Minnesota, Wisconsin, Iowa, North Dakota, South Dakota, Nebraska, and Montana, as well as western Ontario and Manitoba. 

The Blandin Foundation is assisting Broadband Communities with content and conference planning, a move that means the Minnesota non-profit will have a much smaller fall event of its own, said Bernadine Joselyn, Blandin Foundation director of public policy and engagement. Blandin’s fall conference is scheduled for Sept. 13th and 14th in Duluth.  For further information, go to the event website.

Key facts on the Broadband Communities’ Conference

What: “Fiber for The New Economy”

Where: Radisson Blu Downtown Hotel, 35 S. Seventh St., Minneapolis, Minnesota  55402.

When: Oct. 18-20, 2016

Register online for the conference at the event website. Check back in the future with the main event page for more as the agenda is set.

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