Fiber Rich Wilson – Community Broadband Bits Podcast, North Carolina Bonus Episode Two!

Last week, we unveiled the new podcast project we’re working on with the nonprofit NC Broadband Matters, whose focus is on bringing ubiquitous broadband coverage to local communities for residents and businesses in North Carolina. The ten episode podcast series, titled Why NC Broadband Matters,” explores broadband and related issues in North Carolina.

In episode two, “Fiber Rich Wilson, Why and What’s Next?”, Christopher talks with Gene Scott, General Manager for Outside Plant for Greenlight, a division of the city of Wilson, North Carolina. If you’ve heard many of our podcasts, you know all about Wilson and their municipal Fiber-to-the-Home (FTTH) network. We’ve followed the development of the network for years and have reported on many of their innovations.

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Gene gives us an inside perspective. He shares a brief history of the network’s development and why the community chose to use an architecture that is fiber rich. Gene helps us to understand some terminology that most of us aren’t familiar with unless we’re in the field, and he gets into the many benefits of fiber over copper.

Christopher and Gene also discuss how Greenlight and the city have been working with the local community college to prepare more people to work in the growing industry. It isn’t all climbing poles and hanging wires and the need for high-quality Internet access guarantees there’s plenty of future opportunity in the public and private sectors.

To learn more about the story behind Wilson’s Greenlight Community Network, check out our report from 2012, and our 2013 report.

We want your feedback and suggestions for the show-please e-mail us or leave a comment below.

This show is 28 minutes long and can be played on this page, on this page or via iTunes or the tool of your choice using this feed, at the Community Broadband Bits page, or at the NC Broadband Matters page. We encourage you to check out other “Why NC Broadband Matters” content at the podcast feed so you don’t miss future bonus content that may not appear in the Community Broadband Bits Podcast feed.

Thanks to Shane Ivers for the Music: What’s The Angle? by Shane Ivers – https://www.silvermansound.com a Creative Commons Attribution (4.0) license.

Envisioning the Future with Jon Sallet from the Benton Institute for Broadband and Society – Community Broadband Bits Podcast 381

In late October 2019, Christopher travelled to the D.C. area to attend a Broadband Communities Economic Development event and while he was there, he sat down with Executive Director Adrianne Furniss and Senior Fellow Jon Sallet from the Benton Institute for Broadband & Society. This week, we get to sit in on their conversations about the recent change at Benton from “foundation” to “institute” and about their recent report, Broadband for America’s Future: A Vision for the 2020s.

First, Christopher speaks with Adrianne, who discusses the reasons why the organization has recently changed in order to stay current with their mission and with the times. She talks a little about the history of Benton and describes some of the reasons for developing the report.

Christopher spends most of the interview with Jon Sallet, who authored the report and who has a long career in antitrust and communications. After working in D.C. in telecommunications and Internet policy for several decades, he’s seen the influence of the Internet grow. In this report, Jon analyzes stories and situations from around the U.S. and establishes a vision that will help us move forward to connect as many people as possible. He and Christopher discuss the four major factors that, if nurtured correctly, can help us integrate broadband into all sectors of society and maximize its usefulness. Christopher and Jon give special time to competition, an issue that arises repeatedly in the work at Benton and in our work at the Institute for Local Self-Reliance.

The interview will spark your interest in the report that provides more depth into the way broadband can be used as a versatile social tool. Broadband for America’s Future: A Vision for the 2020s [PDF] is filled with examples in which local communities have been able to expand local connectivity to achieve goals that went beyond better Internet access.

Download the report here.

We want your feedback and suggestions for the show-please e-mail us or leave a comment below.

This show is 41 minutes long and can be played on this page or via iTunes or the tool of your choice using this feed.

Listen to other episodes here or view all episodes in our index.

Subscribe to the Building Local Power podcast on iTunes or Stitcher to catch more great episodes.

Thanks to Arne Huseby for the music. The song is Warm Duck Shuffle and is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution (3.0) license.

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Broadband for America’s Future: A Vision for the 2020s

Analyzing FCC Data Collection with Derek Turner from Free Press – Community Broadband Bits Podcast 380

In August 2019, the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) announced that they would begin to restructure their data collection techniques forming the basis of national broadband availability maps. The nonprofit Free Press submitted comments, as did the Institute for Local Self-Reliance and other organizations that consider correct mapping data a key element to expanding access to broadband. In this episode of the podcast, Free Press Research Director Derek Turner and Christopher talk about the proceeding and different perspectives toward moving forward.

Christopher and Derek discuss current problems, suggestions for correcting them, and what the FCC should continue to do as part of data collection. At the heart of current FCC data collection is Form 477, which several broadband advocates suggest should be scrapped. Turner disagrees with starting from scratch, however, and explains that Form 477 still contains data that researchers find valuable beyond visualizations.

Derek talks about how we came to this point in history and the origins of Form 477, which explain many of the reasons why the FCC maps overstate actual broadband coverage. He and Christopher touch on rural data collection from Microsoft, which looks at subscriptions, and compare those results to FCC data.

You can read the comments to the FCC from Free Press here [PDF] and check out on their work to advance a free and open Internet here.

We want your feedback and suggestions for the show-please e-mail us or leave a comment below.

This show is 37 minutes long and can be played on this page or via iTunes or the tool of your choice using this feed.

Listen to other episodes here or view all episodes in our index.

Subscribe to the Building Local Power podcast on iTunes or Stitcher to catch more great episodes.

Thanks to Arne Huseby for the music. The song is Warm Duck Shuffle and is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution (3.0) license.

Overbuilding Encourages Competition – Community Broadband Bits Podcast, North Carolina Bonus Episode One!

We’re pleased to bring you the first episode from a special bonus series of the Community Broadband Bits Podcast titled Why NC Broadband Matters.” The series is a collaboration with the nonprofit NC Broadband Matters, whose focus is on facilitating the expansion of ubiquitous broadband coverage to local communities for residents and businesses. We’ll be working with NC Broadband Matters on this series to develop nine more episodes that center around broadband in North Carolina.

“Overbuilding Means Providing Internet Choice: How One Small Company is Closing North Carolina’s Digital Divide,” is a conversation between host Christopher Mitchell and Alan Fitzpatrick of Open Broadband. The North Carolina company delivers high-quality Internet access to local communities. As Fitzpatrick notes in the interview, Open Broadband uses different types of technology, depending on what’s most effective in each region. The goal is delivering quality Internet access.

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Christopher and Alan talk about how the term “overbuilding” is now associated with waste, rather than with competition. They discuss the benefits of overbuilding and competition, problems with of lack of choice, and Alan reviews some potential long-term policy changes that could encourage investment. Alan and Christopher talk about local government involvement in promoting competition for better access to high-quality connectivity. They also touch on how lack of competition can increase the digital divide and how North Carolina could make changes to allow local governments to work with private providers in order to expand Internet access.

We want your feedback and suggestions for the show-please e-mail us or leave a comment below.

This show is 28 minutes long and can be played on this page, on this page or via iTunes or the tool of your choice using this feed, or at the NC Broadband Matters page. We encourage you to check out other “Why NC Broadband Matters” content at the source so you don’t miss future bonus content that may not appear in the Community Broadband Bits Podcast feed. 

Listen to other Community Broadband Bits episodes here or view all episodes in our index.

Thanks to Shane Ivers for the Music: What’s The Angle? by Shane Ivers – https://www.silvermansound.com a Creative Commons Attribution (4.0) license.

Observations from Tech Writer Karl Bode – Community Broadband Bits Podcast 379

If you’re a regular reader of MuniNetworks.org, you’ve seen Karl Bode’s name and it’s almost certain you’ve read his work elsewhere. Karl has had his finger on the pulse of telecom, broadband, and related legislative events for a long time.

This week, Karl comes on the show to talk about how his career trajectory led to where he is right now, the surprising and unsurprising things he’s seen, and how media coverage of telecom and technology has changed over the years. There are some issues, notes Karl, that should be handled more aggressively both in developing policy and in how the media covers them. The impact of large monopolistic Internet service providers, privacy concerns, and network neutrality are a few matters that affect us more than most people realize. 

Christopher and Karl talk about the FCC and corruption of the commenting system that surrounded the decision to retract federal network neutrality protections. They also talk about Washington D.C.’s different attitudes toward big tech companies such as Google and Facebook versus big ISPs like AT&T and Comcast.

We want your feedback and suggestions for the show-please e-mail us or leave a comment below.

This show is 32 minutes long and can be played on this page or via iTunes or the tool of your choice using this feed.

Listen to other episodes here or view all episodes in our index.

Subscribe to the Building Local Power podcast on iTunes or Stitcher to catch more great episodes.

Thanks to Arne Huseby for the music. The song is Warm Duck Shuffle and is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution (3.0) license.

South Bend, Indiana, Integrates Technology and Innovation with a Practical Approach – Community Broadband Bits Podcast 378

South Bend, Indiana, is a mid-sized city of around 100,000 people where they are making practical use of their dark fiber network and technology. In episode 378 of the podcast, Christopher talks with Denise Linn Riedl, Chief Innovation Officer. Denise describes many of the “non-sexy” ways the community and her department are using technology to encourage interdepartmental cooperation, efficiency, and the idea that technology is a standard tool, rather than a “shiny new thing.”

Denise introduces us to the publicly owned dark fiber infrastructure, Choice Light, and shares a little about its history. She describes how Internet access companies use the infrastructure to provide service to various sectors of the community. Digital inclusion is on the minds of South Bend leadership and Denise describes partnerships that have helped shrink the lack of access for people who struggle to get online. Christopher and Denise delve into the subtle digital inclusion efforts that happen every day in South Bend.

The interview also covers the city’s work to use technology and data to measure success and find areas for increased efficiencies in city services. Christopher and Denise examine ways to reduce bureaucracy through technology and take a practical approach by considering what resources are currently available. Denise’s department works with other governmental departments on adopting new approaches and working through change management. She discusses the city’s data governance project and reveiws some of the surprising moments that have led to innovative use of data to enhance city operations in South Bend and cut costs.

We want your feedback and suggestions for the show-please e-mail us or leave a comment below.

This show is 30 minutes long and can be played on this page or via iTunes or the tool of your choice using this feed.

Listen to other episodes here or view all episodes in our index.

Subscribe to the Building Local Power podcast on iTunes or Stitcher to catch more great episodes.

Thanks to Arne Huseby for the music. The song is Warm Duck Shuffle and is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution (3.0) license.

Crazy Talk Rears Its Head Again – Community Broadband Bits Podcast 377

Hey, Community Broadband Bits fans, it’s time for Crazy Talk again! This time, our Communications Specialist Jess Del Fiacco joins Christopher and I to address recent insanity attacking municipal networks.

“What IS Crazy Talk,” you say?

Every once in awhile, anti-municipal network initiatives get wind of particular projects in local communities and make extra efforts to spread misinformation. They usually rely on the same tired old talking points and refer to the same incorrect data from old reports that have been called out for inaccuracies.

This time is no different. Lately, the community of Lakeland, Florida, has discussed the possibility of building off their existing fiber optic infrastructure in order to offer services to residents. Reliably, anti-municipal soundbites have appeared in the local press which quote past research that we showed as based on faulty data. Nevertheless, a corrected version of the report was never published and it continues to be quoted in order to sway public opinion against local efforts to improve connectivity.

We also discuss other recent crazy publications that try to show local networks that residents love as outliers. In reality, a majority of the 500+ communities served by publicly owned networks get high marks from locals.

Jess, Christopher, and I also review a new report that attacks the positive economic development potential of municipal networks. All in all, it appears to be another report that’s based on inaccurate data in order to paint municipal networks in a negative light. Junk in, junk out.

Be sure to check out the Community Fiber Fallacies page, where you can pick up tips on addressing the most common negative attacks on community network projects.

We want your feedback and suggestions for the show-please e-mail us or leave a comment below.

This show is 38 minutes long and can be played on this page or via iTunes or the tool of your choice using this feed.

Listen to other episodes here or view all episodes in our index.

Subscribe to the Building Local Power podcast on iTunes or Stitcher to catch more great episodes.

Thanks to Arne Huseby for the music. The song is Warm Duck Shuffle and is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution (3.0) license.

The Internet Society Leads Charge to Connect, Collaborate for Decades – Community Broadband Bits Podcast 376

The history of the Internet Society (ISOC) reaches back to the early 1990s when a group of early Internet pioneers, realizing the power of connectivity, developed an organization aimed at  bringing safe and secure Internet access to everyone. Since then, ISOC has worked in policy, deployment, and the difficult task of creating collaborations. This week, we have ISOC’s Director of the North American Bureau Mark Buell and Senior Policy Advisor Katie Watson Jordan to talk about the organization, its history, and the work they do.

In addition to learning about the growth of the organization, which now has chapters all over the globe, Mark and Katie describe their current community network project in remote Ulukhaktok, Northwest Territories, Canada. They discuss their role in this and other community network projects, including the next location in Hilo, Hawaii. Read more about Ulukhaktok and the challenges they faced in developing their network in Katie’s recent article on the project

Mark and Katie discuss ISOC’s policy and access work. In addition to helping leaders establish better guidelines that encourage infrastructure deployment, they have led in matters of security and privacy. They also note that, one of the greatest strengths of ISOC has evolved into the organization’s ability to bring people and entities together to achieve common goals. A prime example is their annual Indigenous Connectivity Summit, this year held November 12th and 13th in Hilo, Hawaii. Katie and Mark explain the success of past Summits and talk about expectations for this year’s event.

You can register for the 2019 Summit here. Did we mention it’s in Hawaii? HAWAII???

We want your feedback and suggestions for the show-please e-mail us or leave a comment below.

This show is 33 minutes long and can be played on this page or via iTunes or the tool of your choice using this feed.

Listen to other episodes here or view all episodes in our index.

Subscribe to the Building Local Power podcast on iTunes or Stitcher to catch more great episodes.

Thanks to Arne Huseby for the music. The song is Warm Duck Shuffle and is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution (3.0) license.

Inside the Connect America Fund with Carol Mattey – Community Broadband Bits Podcast 375

The Connect America Fund (CAF) from the federal government has been both praised and criticized as a mechanism to expand rural broadband deployment. In this episode of the podcast, Principal of Mattey Consulting Carol Mattey talks in depth with Christopher about the program. Carol was a Deputy Bureau Chief in the Wireline Competition Bureau at the FCC to help develop the program and has worked on the National Broadband Plan.

In addition to offering a primer on CAF for those of us who aren’t familiar with its inception or purpose, Carol offers a historical perspective that includes the broad goals of the program. She looks back and offers her opinions on the aspects of the program she considers successful and those that need improvement. Carol and Christopher consider the challenges of creating such a program, including political pressures and the difficulty of navigating unchartered waters. 

They compare the different phases of the CAF program and how large national ISPs and smaller entities have used the awards. Christopher and Carol also discuss possible changes in benchmarks that could make the resulting infrastructure more future proof and useful to rural communities.

For more conversations about CAF with other guests that we’ve had on the show, check out:

Episode 268 with Jon Chambers, “Rethinking the Rules on the Connect America Fund”

Episode 318 with Bill Coleman, “Are CAF II Investments Helping Rural Minnesota? Blandin Report Looks at the Data”

Episode 321 with Jonathan Chambers, “Analyzing the Auction with Jonathan Chambers”

We want your feedback and suggestions for the show-please e-mail us or leave a comment below.

This show is 35 minutes long and can be played on this page or via iTunes or the tool of your choice using this feed.

Listen to other episodes here or view all episodes in our index.

Subscribe to the Building Local Power podcast on iTunes or Stitcher to catch more great episodes.

Thanks to Arne Huseby for the music. The song is Warm Duck Shuffle and is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution (3.0) license.

Exploring Eastern Tennessee’s BrightRidge Network – Community Broadband Bits Podcast 374

Even though the state of Tennessee adopted legislation long ago to discourage municipal networks, local communities in the state are finding ways to deliver high-quality Internet access via public utilities. This week, Chief Broadband Officer from BrightRidge Stacy Evans visits with Christopher. They talk about the power utility and their expansive broadband project in eastern Tennessee.

BrightRidge used to be known as the Johnson County Power Board, but limitations changed for the entity when it became an energy authority. Stacy provides some history about the region, the energy authority, and the considerations that contributed to the change. He also describes some of the challenges they’ve faced deploying over a very large area in a multi-phased roll-out that employs both Fiber-to-the-Home (FTTH) and fixed wireless.

They’re still in the early deployment phases, but BrightRidge is already hearing stories about benefits from subscribers. In addition to sharing a few with us, Stacy talks about how BrightRidge has adopted a layered approach at the premise that will make implementing future innovations easier. He and Christopher review some of the indirect benefits from the network, such as improved service from incumbents and improved electrical services.

We want your feedback and suggestions for the show-please e-mail us or leave a comment below.

This show is 26 minutes long and can be played on this page or via iTunes or the tool of your choice using this feed.

Listen to other episodes here or view all episodes in our index.

Subscribe to the Building Local Power podcast on iTunes or Stitcher to catch more great episodes.

Thanks to Arne Huseby for the music. The song is Warm Duck Shuffle and is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution (3.0) license.