Community Broadband Bits Podcast

Community Broadband Bits is a weekly audio show hosted by Community Broadband Networks Initiative Director Christopher Mitchell featuring interviews with people building community networks or otherwise involved with Internet policy. You can listen to episodes below or download via Apple, Google, or Spotify. Alternatively if you know what to do with it, copy the feed here.

We also produce a semi-regular video show called Connect This! that has its own site. Find other podcasts from ILSR here.

We also have an index of all episodes and links to transcripts. Keep up with new developments by subscribing to our one-email-per-week list sharing new stories and resources. We’d love to hear your feedback! Email us.

Mona Thompson Reflects on a Career of Visionary Work in Tribal Telecommunications - Episode 567 of the Community Broadband Bits Podcast

This week on the podcast, Christopher speaks with Mona Thompson, General Manager at the Cheyenne River Sioux Tribe Telephone Authority (CRSTTA). CRSTTA serves the Cheyenne River Sioux Reservation in North Central South Dakota, which includes 20 communities dispersed across nearly 3 million acres. After 27 years with CRSTTA, Mona soon plans to retire, and during this episode sheds light on the important leadership roles she and other passionate women like her have played and will continue to play in the Tribal Telecommunications space.

Loveland’s Municipal Network is Scrappy and Driven to Serve its Community - Episode 566 of the Community Broadband Bits Podcast

This week on the podcast, Christopher speaks with Brieana Reed-Harmel, Municipal Fiber Manager for the City of Loveland, located in Colorado’s Northern Front Range about an hour north of Denver. The city is home to over 80,000 residents as well as a municipal fiber broadband network called Pulse. Chris and Brieana discuss Loveland’s population expansion over the past few years and Pulse’s resulting plans to extend beyond city limits into the “urban fringe,” which is more difficult to receive grant funding to serve. Brieana stresses the importance of having a solid business model and great project management, as well as the scrappiness and ongoing investment needed to ensure a municipal network is sustainable and can bring residents quality connectivity at the best value.

Digital Equity Starts in Our Cities and Towns - Episode 565 of the Community Broadband Bits Podcast

This week on the show we're featuring an episode of our Building for Digital Equity podcast, with Brandon Forester - the National Organizer for Internet Rights at Media Justice - joining Christopher to talk about helping communities build more agency over how technology shows up in their neighborhoods and among the digital communities they create for themselves.

The Last Train - Episode 564 of the Community Broadband Bits Podcast

We're more than 15 years and a hundred billion dollars into the alphabet soup of federal broadband infrastructure subsidy programs, and millions upon millions of households are stuck on deteriorating connections and capacity-constrained technologies. This week on the podcast, Christopher is joined by Jonathan Chambers, partner at Conexon, to talk about how the BEAD program is our last chance.

Doubling the Number of Municipal Networks in the Next Five Years - Episode 563 of the Community Broadband Bits Podcast

May 2022 witnessed something remarkable: the birth of a new nonprofit advocacy organization whose sole purpose was to speak up for the hundreds of communities that have built municipal broadband networks, and the thousands more that want to but don't know where to start. Now, the American Association for Public Broadband has named as its Executive Director as Gigi Sohn, former Biden nominee to the Federal Communications Commission. And she's ready to get to work.

A Challenge A Day Will Make BEAD Go Our Way - Episode 562 of the Community Broadband Bits Podcast

This week on the podcast, Christopher is joined by Christine Parker (Senior GIS Analyst at ILSR), and Meghan Grabill (Geospatial Analyst at the Maine Connectivity Authority) to run through the recently announced NTIA location challenge process for the upcoming BEAD program and talk about how state processes can adjust eligible technologies and location types, shift of the burden of proof to the IPSs, allow of more flexible speed test data, and include the ability to add community anchor institutions to grant-eligible maps.

Wolves in Sheep's Clothing, Trojan Horse Networks, and Flowering BUDs - Episode 561 of the Community Broadband Bits Podcast

This week on the podcast, Christopher is joined by Sean Gonsalves to chat about the astroturf anti-municipal misinformation campaign being run by the Utah Taxpayer's Association, how a city negotiated a capital fee it's using to build its own network and get out from under Comcast's thumb, and the growing momentum behind Maine's Broadband Utility Districts (BUD) and their quest to improve competition and Internet access for residents.

Mason PUD 3 is Snaking Its Way Through the Unserved and Underserved Parts of Washington State - Episode 560 of the Community Broadband Bits Podcast

This week on the podcast, Christopher is joined by Justin Holzgrove and Mike Rientjes from Mason County Public Utility District 3 in Washington State. The PUD provides electric service to more than 35,000 households across an area the size of Rhode Island, and began connecting its grid infrastructure to fiber in the late 1990s. Since 2003, it has operated an open access ftth network for households; an endeavor that has sped up since 2015, when residents began clamoring for more. To meet demand and plan for the future, PUD 3 uses a fiberhood approach and construction adders.

How Rural Internet Access is Being Transformed by Electric Cooperatives - Episode 559 of the Community Broadband Bits Podcast

Electric cooperatives overwhelmingly serve regions that face population density challenges and income disparities as compared to their urban counterparts, as well as all of the other challenges that go with it: declining populations, hospital closures, increasingly frequent extreme weather events, and more. This week on the podcast, Christopher is joined by Brian O'Hara, Senior Director of Regulatory Issues for Telecom and Broadband at NRECA, to talk about how more than a quarter of the country's electric cooperatives have answered the call of their members and expanded into Internet service.

The Public Utility District Taking on the Olympic Peninsula - Episode 558 of the Community Broadband Bits Podcast

This week on the podcast, Christopher is joined by Will O'Donnell, Broadband and Communications Director at Jefferson County Public Utility District in Washington State, to talk about the Herculean task facing the PUD: how to deploy an open access fiber network to the utility's 21,000 meters in some of the least-dense parts of the state.