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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.
North Carolina Broadband and the Influx of Federal Dollars - Bonus Episode 13 of the Community Broadband Bits Podcast
For episode 13 of our bonus series, “Why NC Broadband Matters,” we’re joined by Doug Dawson (Owner and President of CCG Consulting), Catharine Rice (Project Director for the Coalition for Local Internet Choice) and Gene Scott (General Manager of the Outside Plant for the Greenlight Network) to talk about the wave of new federal dollars reaching communities across the country. How do communities avoid feeling overwhelmed and use this money in the most effective ways?
Lessons Learned in Local Broadband Grants, and the Value of Perseverance - Episode 458 of the Community Broadband Bits Podcast
On this episode of the Community Broadband Bits Podcast, Christopher is joined by ILSR's senior editor and reporter, Sean Gonsalves, Doug Seacat, Owner of Deeply Digital and Clearnetworx, and Casey Irving, Director of Business Development, about bringing world-class connectivity to households in and around the city of Ridgeway, Colorado. Around five years ago, Clearnetworx won a Colorado broadband fund grant to build a Fiber-to-the-Home network for the community, only to have it challenged by incumbent provider, CenturyLink. Subsequent appeals ultimately led to a situation where Clearnetworx lost the grant to CenturyLink. Instead of the money going towards a Fiber-to-the-Home network for residents, it was used for a modest upgrade to CenturyLink's DSL network.
How Broadband Became a Municipal Utility in Conway, Arkansas - Episode 457 of the Community Broadband Bits Podcast
This week on the podcast, Christopher is joined by two representatives from Conway Corp, a municipal utility in Conway, Arkansas to hear about their commitment to providing high quality Internet access to residents over the last four decades. CEO Bret Carroll and Chief Technology Officer Jason Hansen dive into the rich history of Conway Corp, starting with how the utility got into the telecommunications industry in the early 1980s, by acquiring an exclusive city-wide cable franchise agreement and bringing the first city residents online. They describe two upgrade cycles the network has since undergone: one to a hybrid fiber co-ax system in the late 1990s, and another, starting in 2010, to drive fiber deeper into parts of the network to bring gigabit download service to residents.
Relationships Are Key: Partnering to Connect Minnesota - Episode 456 of the Community Broadband Bits Podcast
This week on the podcast, we're joined by two representatives from Minnesota based CTC, a firm that started as a telephone cooperative and has become one of the most aggressive fiber network builders in greater Minnesota. CTC partners with electric cooperatives and communities to undertake internet infrastructure projects around the state. CEO and General Manager, Kristi Westbrock, and Director of Business Development, Joe Buttweiler, talk with Chris about the history of the cooperative's decision to embark on a network upgrade bringing fiber to its 15,000 members almost 20 years ago.
Speed Vs. Longevity: Rethinking How We Fund Rural Broadband - Episode 455 of the Community Broadband Bits Podcast
On this episode of the Community Broadband Bits podcast, we're joined by Jonathan Chambers, a partner at Conexon. Conexon has helped rural electric cooperatives build fiber to the home networks since its founding five years ago. Christopher and Jonathan talk about ideas for how to improve structuring rural broadband subsidies in a way that takes advantage of fiber infrastructure's long life. Jonathan and Chris dig into what this would mean for funding projects, and how it would change the way we think about and approach connecting rural communities in the future.
Advantages and Potential Pitfalls of the Emergency Broadband Benefit - Episode 454 of the Community Broadband Bits Podcast
One component of the recently passed Consolidated Appropriations Act of 2021 was the Emergency Broadband Benefit, a $3.2 billion program designed to get families connected to available service that they otherwise might not be able to afford. The program provides a subsidy of up to $50/month (or $75 on tribal lands) for broadband service as well as up to $100 for a device (with a household contribution) for as long as the money lasts.
Resiliency in a Decade-Long Fight to Get Better Broadband - Episode 453 of the Community Broadband Bits Podcast
This week on the podcast, Christopher talks with Belle Ryder, Orono, Maine Assistant Manager and President of the nonprofit OTO Fiber Corporation. The towns of Orono and nearby Old Town began their search for better broadband more than 10 years ago, and have overcome an array of challenges in bringing a pilot project to justify future-proof connectivity to the surrounding area.
Chirping Soil and Autonomous Tractors: Connecting Agriculture in Nebraska - Episode 452 of the Community Broadband Bits Podcast
This week on the podcast, Christopher speaks with Julie Bushell, President of Paige Wireless and Co-chair of Federal Communication Commission’s (FCC) Precision Ag Connectivity Task Force. Christopher and Julie talk about the importance of reliable, symmetrical wireless data connections so farmers can deploy devices on farms which communicate across Long Range Wide Area Network (LoRaWAN) protocols to bring soil probes, combines, grain bins, wastewater management sensors, and other devices online to report conditions across far-flung fields. They also discuss how a robust rural network can support GPS for planting, irrigation, and harvest, as well as allow for data aggregation to increase efficiencies and allow mapping and maintenance via real-time drone operations.
Overbuilding and the Value of Real Competition - Episode 451 of the Community Broadband Bits Podcast
This week on the podcast, Christopher talks with Travis Carter (CEO, US Internet), Deb Socia (President/CEO, The Enterprise Center), and Brian Worthen (President, Visionary Communications and CEO, Mammoth Networks) to talk about overbuilding. The group discusses the importance of reclaiming the term as what it really is: plain old competition. They talk about the economics of building competitive broadband infrastructure in rural and urban areas, pending Washington State legislation which would unlock the power of the state’s utility districts to deliver retail service, and why we don't see more small, competitive fiber builders around the country.
From Broadband Barriers to Section 230 - Episode 450 of the Community Broadband Bits Podcast
This week on the podcast we're joined by Berin Szoka, President of TechFreedom, to talk about the pressing broadband issues of today and tomorrow. Christopher and Berin share what they see as the biggest barriers to universal, high-quality Internet access today, including the jurisdictional issues facing communities large and small, as well as the regulatory solutions which would facilitate more rapid and efficient infrastructure deployment.