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The Success of Urbana-Champaign's Broadband Revolution - Episode 601 of the Community Broadband Bits Podcast

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The Institute for Local Self-Reliance Announces Two Initiatives to Foster Local Broadband Solutions

Communities across the United States today sit at a flash point. On one side, the long-simmering gaps in our broadband infrastructure and the prohibitive cost of fast, reliable Internet access faced by low-income households have left millions of families behind. On the other, billions in federal broadband funding have been disbursed over the last twelve months, with tens of billions more to come. It’s a rare chance to address the digital divide in all of its forms. In response, the Institute for Local Self-Reliance (ILSR) is excited to announce two new programs to help leaders and local government officials address their community’s needs in practical, efficient, clear-eyed ways, with sensitivity to all the things that make their community unique. 

Duluth, Minnesota Ponders A Major Bet On Open Access Fiber

Like countless U.S. communities, Duluth, Minnesota (pop. 86,000) got a crash course on the importance of affordable broadband during the Covid-19 crisis. Those struggles in telecommuting and home education helped fuel a dramatic new broadband expansion plan that, if approved by the city council, could revolutionize affordable access citywide.

Cleveland Seeks Partner to Turn ‘Worst-Connected City’ into Smart Fiber City

Three years ago, the National Digital Inclusion Alliance (NDIA) ranked Cleveland as the worst-connected city in the United States (with more than 100,000 households). City leaders are now using its American Rescue Plan funds to make that dishonorable distinction a thing of the past with a plan to invest $20 million to get the “Comeback City’s” digital future rockin’ n rollin’. Earlier this summer the city issued a Request for Proposals (RFP) that “seeks one or more partners” to help bridge Cleveland’s digital divide following a two-phased approach that first addresses the city’s immediate needs before tackling its longer-term strategic goals. The deadline for submitting proposals is fast-approaching.

 

Duluth, Minnesota Ponders A Major Bet On Open Access Fiber

Like countless U.S. communities, Duluth, Minnesota (pop. 86,000) got a crash course on the importance of affordable broadband during the Covid-19 crisis. Those struggles in telecommuting and home education helped fuel a dramatic new broadband expansion plan that, if approved by the city council, could revolutionize affordable access citywide.

LTD and Starlink Booted from Rural Digital Opportunity Fund by FCC

In a release today, the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) announced it was voiding applications by two of the biggest Rural Digital Opportunity Fund (RDOF) bidders from December 2020. This includes more than $885 million for Low-Earth Orbit (LEO) provider Starlink and more than $1.3 billion for LTD Broadband, Inc.

Local Internet Choice BUDs in Waldo County, Maine

The Southwestern Waldo County Broadband Coalition (SWCBC) is close to securing a major victory for local Internet choice in the face of a well-funded opposition campaign sweeping the Pine Tree State as the Big Telecom lobby and its allies try to undermine the very idea of publicly-owned, locally-controlled broadband networks in Maine and elsewhere. The five SWCBC towns clustered about 30 miles east of Augusta are looking to create what is known as a Broadband Utility District (BUD). Four of those towns recently voted in favor of establishing a BUD. Montville will vote later this month.

 

Trailblazing Ashland Fiber Network (AFN) Faces Its Fiber Future

Ashland, Oregon has long been a trailblazer in terms of meeting community demand for faster, more affordable broadband access. The city-owned network has also had a bumpy road—at times being branded as an example of municipal broadband failure. But the network continues to grow as it faces down an urgently-needed pivot toward a fiber-based future. Despite the current economic healthiness of the network and the clear benefits it’s brought to the community over the last twenty years, local officials are talking about divesting instead of making the financial commitment to continue the investment the city has already made.