Approaches to Digital Equity Work in Cleveland and Detroit - Episode 553 of the Community Broadband Bits Podcast

This week on the podcast, Christopher speaks with Joshua Edmonds, CEO of DigitalC, a nonprofit technology social enterprise in Cleveland. DigitalC offers affordable wireless service for $18/month, as well as a co-working and collaboration space for the community.

Joshua served as Detroit’s Digital Inclusion Director for four years before heading DigitalC, and he and Christopher discuss Joshua's coalition-building work in Detroit. They compare his experience working under the city of Detroit to his nonprofit digital equity work in Cleveland. Detroit and Cleveland also have two of the highest Affordable Connectivity Program (ACP) enrollment rates among prominent metro areas – Joshua offers his approach to ACP, outlining the organized and relentless campaign it took to achieve substantial enrollment in the subsidy program during his time in Detroit. He highlights how important it is to focus on long-term, structural solutions for closing the digital divide at the same time as we find ways to make Internet more affordable in the short term.  

Joshua also speaks about DigitalC’s focus on being locally-rooted, mission-driven and sustainable, and offers his thoughts on the viability of wireless.  

This show is 28 minutes long and can be played on this page or via Apple Podcasts or the tool of your choice using this feed

Transcript below.

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

Listen to other episodes here or view all episodes in our index. See other podcasts from the Institute for Local Self-Reliance here.

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


Joshua Edmonds (00:07):
And if there's a possibility for you to leverage a municipal network, if you have a mayor or someone, anyone who actually can understand that, then you play that ace all day. Cause that is an ace. But in the absence of your ace, your next highest card is whatever you have.

Christopher Mitchell (00:23):
Welcome to another episode of the Community Broadband Bits podcast. I'm Christopher Mitchell at the Institute for Local Self-Reliance, and I'm talking to someone who thinks that I'm pretty silly. <Laugh> got Joshua Edmonds over here, the CEO of Digital C in Cleveland. Before we launch in today's show, I wanted to share a little bit about some interesting things that are coming up. One is a live stream on June 7th at three Eastern Time. Our next building for digital equity livestream. This will be the fourth one. We've had a lot of good feedback on our others. It's a interesting mix of presentations and trivia and, and q and a. And you can find more at building for digital, where you'll see information about that livestream on June 7th at three Eastern Time. Also, there you'll see information about the Building for Digital Equity Podcast, of which we have money episodes and more to come.

These are shorter discussions about people doing that hard work. And then for those of you who haven't heard about the Connect This Show, we are gonna be continuing to do those about every two weeks, and you can find That is a hour long video show, usually a little bit longer than that, often featuring Travis Carter from u i Fiber in Minneapolis, Kim McKinley from Utopia Fiber, and Doug Dawson, the consultant extraordinaire. So if you haven't caught any of those they're best on video. You can watch 'em on YouTube. You can find that in additional shows from ilsr. The Institute for Local Self-Reliance, where I work at Welcome.

Joshua Edmonds (02:14):
Thank you. I don't have nearly as much an, an animated intro that you do, however very impressed with it. And yep. CEO of Digital C we're a nonprofit technology, social enterprise. We're a WISP. On one hand, we offer competitive broadband services at $18 a month. Another hand we run the Midtown Tech Hive, which is a co-working and collaboration space.

Christopher Mitchell (02:37):
And you're not a regular listener of this show. No. Because then you would know that. That's the intro. Give yourself away <laugh>.

Joshua Edmonds (02:44):
Well, I mean, still I, no, I, but yeah, but I don't see it live. No, that's all

Christopher Mitchell (02:48):
Right. Sean doesn't listen to it either.

Joshua Edmonds (02:49):
<Laugh> admittedly though, like you did it live right in front, right next to me. Yeah. And I'm like, oh, man, that's <laugh>.

Christopher Mitchell (02:55):
It was just animated. I do most of it just to impress Travis Carter, because his wife was annoyed by it. So we started hamming it up, and that's how we got here. So we also have listening in, Sean Gonzales, my colleague here, who may or may not shout in a question, might might podcast bomb this episode, like I've got you with Dwight. So anyway, Digital C let's talk about the, the origin story, like the, the quick version of the origin story. You you, you came into existence for me at net inclusion in Cleveland. Oh, yeah. Yeah. that was before you were the rockstar on the circuit. <Laugh> <laugh>. So

Joshua Edmonds (03:33):
Yeah, I was, at that point, I was just maybe connecting amps to use a rockstar extended metaphor. So actually I was in charge of planning that inclusion in Cleveland. So that was when I was working for the Cleveland Foundation at the time. However, prior to that, I was working at the Calgary Metropolitan Housing Authority, so C M H A, that's the local housing authority in Cleveland and throughout the county. And that was my first taste of interacting with Digital C then, because we had actually put up a CYLO radio on one of the public housing properties. And that was my first introduction of like a WISP or an alternative broadband provider, servicing residents and public housing. So it goes from that to then the Cleveland Foundation, where, where Digital C was a grantee of mine, and then off to Detroit. Now back to Digital C. So it's a bit of a full circle moment for me. And it's funny, they've been in my orbit ever since I started doing digital equity work.

Christopher Mitchell (04:26):
So your heart's in Cleveland?

Joshua Edmonds (04:28):
My heart, my family. A a a lot of things Now. I love Detroit. Like, and that's, that's one thing I will not depart. No, I love Detroit.

Christopher Mitchell (04:37):
You were the digital equity director there.

Joshua Edmonds (04:39):
Correct. So I spent the last four years in Detroit left Detroit in November. However, the family is is back home in Cleveland. And I saw, you know, my brother, he just got married. Oh no, he just had a kid, I'm sorry. My sister has kids. Like I'm seeing my family, like my mom works in downtown Cleveland. I'm like, okay. At this point, family is calling. And I'm proud to say that actually my sister is one of our customers for Digital C. Now, admittedly, like most families, she didn't know what I did. And so even when I said, Hey, I do this, she had no clue. And it wasn't until the technician had already installed the service and she said, wait, Digital C Digital C Digital C <laugh> is your co Joshua. And the guy's like, yeah. She's like, that's my baby brother. He's like, wait, what <laugh>?

Christopher Mitchell (05:25):
I'm like,

Joshua Edmonds (05:26):
Yep. That's how families work. He

Christopher Mitchell (05:27):
Thinks of you as being this like, I mean, like for people that don't know you're, you're muscularly built. You were, you were a jock. <Laugh>. That's ex That's

Joshua Edmonds (05:33):
Exactly right. Like, he's just like, wait, jock. Yeah. She's like,

Christopher Mitchell (05:36):
Oh no, that's, that's

Joshua Edmonds (05:36):
My baby brother. Are you

Christopher Mitchell (05:38):
Kidding me? I forget. Now we talked about this, you did track, right?

Joshua Edmonds (05:40):
Yeah. And then I didn't know that I could put on muscle by lifting weights. I

Christopher Mitchell (05:45):
Didn't know that either. It took me a long time. <Laugh>. Yeah. Yeah. I always thought I was gonna be a scrawny guy. Yeah. So you're looking at me like you're a scrawny guy, but, but I'm, I'm less scrawny than I used to be.

Joshua Edmonds (05:56):
Ah, yeah. No, it was, it

Christopher Mitchell (05:59):
Was a What was your event? What was your event?

Joshua Edmonds (06:00):
I, I did mid-distance. Okay. So I, 8, 8, 800. I would jump up to the mile because

Christopher Mitchell (06:06):
There's a woman here, Ebony, from Next Link. She did the 800. She ran the 800 for the University of Miami. Oh, she's serious. Oh,

Joshua Edmonds (06:13):
She might have been faster than me. <Laugh>. She might have been. No, she wasn't, but she was probably close <laugh>.

Christopher Mitchell (06:19):
She, we did an interview with her for the for the other podcast, the building for Digital Equity Show. Mm. and that's actually not yet published. It's coming out soon. So so anyway, Detroit, did you help to create Connect 313? Correct.

Joshua Edmonds (06:32):
So where that actually came from when I first got to Detroit and I kind of touched on it this morning's keynote of just like, Hey, 2019, that's when I arrived. January, 2019 would be specific. And at the time, there wasn't really a citywide coalition. That was the first time the city even ventured into doing something like that. So what does a director of digital inclusion do? When you have no staff, you have no budget and no recognition. Cuz no one knew who I was. Mm-Hmm. <affirmative>, what you do is you create what I call the stone soup model. And that's more so a microcosm to a larger parable that was told. But essentially what I was doing as I was building community, because I had to, there wasn't a choice. Mm-Hmm. <affirmative> everyone in my mind and, and people around me, Beth Ni Block, she was our CIO at the time.

She was snapping her fingers at, at me all the time saying, wins wins. We need wins, we need wins. And I'm like, Beth, I hear you. I need something. So I created the first iteration, which was three and three Connect. So if you guys ever watch Iron Man, that was like the first Iron Man suit when he was still in that like Right. Kind of janky whatever, <laugh>. Exactly. That was 313 Connect. And then after 313 Connect, I got feedback from someone who did marketing for the city who said, that sounds like a phone number. And so then we switched it around and we created Connect three 13. So originally it started in the city, but then just being able to, I wouldn't say sell cause I don't wanna say that's why I did, but building community, building collaboration all around the central vision and then ideology around community that could live under a generic enough umbrella that no one would have any issues, but specific enough that you know what I was talking about. And that's where three and three was created.

Christopher Mitchell (08:08):
Awesome. Alright. So that's how Connect three 13 comes into place, connect three 13, move is strong, independent now. And and I just met some of those folks at a, at a bootcamp. It was, it was terrific. A lot of young folks. Not only, I mean, there's certainly, there's there's other people there who I mean, hilariously were looked upon as as mother figures in some cases <laugh>. Yeah. And and I can tell there's a little bit of of, of enjoyment among people into different areas working together, learning from each other, bringing different skills to how they're organizing. That's right. Detroit ends up being the best city on the ACP with almost half of all eligible people enrolled at this

Joshua Edmonds (08:47):
Point. It looks like. Love it. We love it. I, I am so impressed. I, I remember when we were first trying to do e bbb and we launched an EBB 313 campaign because we were so afraid of the federal funding being clawed back because we didn't use the subsidy. So like there was this sense of emergency at the onset. Yes, we were looking at residents current situations, but we also knew that this funding had future weights attached to it. So if we hit it as hard as we could, if we were so organized, if we could have a call center, if we had messaging and branding, we created partner toolkits. We worked with a r p on faith-based campaigns. I mean, we did everything that we could. And when it transitioned to acp, we had a big enough lead. And I mean, yeah, we talked about track, but like, this is the mentality was a race. Mm-Hmm. <affirmative>. And I told people that I wanted us to be the best city in the country when it came to enrollments. I wanted us to blow everyone out the water. That was the goal. And yes, yes, it was about the resident. But I'll be honest, this is what happens when you're putting your whole entire mentality into something like when you, you're gonna use your competitive edge and Wow. Like, we're competing cities now. Now I like Cleveland. You know, Cleveland has a really high CCP enrollment rate too.

Christopher Mitchell (09:56):
Second in the nation. That's what you tell.

Joshua Edmonds (09:58):
Yeah. Detroit and Cleveland. I'm like, oh man. Now I'm betting on two horses here. <Laugh>.

Christopher Mitchell (10:01):
Yeah. Well, and Detroit went, I mean, Cleveland went from being one of the lower ones to being That's right. One of the better ones. That's right. No, and that, that just brings to mind Robin Williams line from Cadillac man, which maybe one or two people that are listening to this will catch the reference to. But in response to a hilarious question, he says, it's not easy, never easy <laugh>. Mm. Like, it's hard work. It is. Like, you didn't stumble into, into doing that.

Joshua Edmonds (10:24):
No, no, no. There was a, I would refer to it as a relentless preparation. I think that sometimes I come up for air and it just seems like, oh, casual, laughy happy, whatever. But I'm like, no, no, no. In that moment though, very serious. Especially because in Detroit you have a lot of people in Cleveland too. A lot of people just felt left down, let down by a number of things. And so I knew we were also working against that skepticism that we had to do something that was pervasive enough to get the attention, but not provocative enough to say, if I'm a mayor, I don't want any parts of this. Mm-Hmm. <affirmative>. So we always told that line. And that was a a very nuanced balancing act. I'm thankful to be able to do that, but I think that sometimes either people are too conservative in how they treat. Mayors are way too aggressive. Finding that special middle was something we had to do all the time. But when we hit that balance, it allowed us to get everybody else aligned within the city. So mm-hmm. <Affirmative>,

Christopher Mitchell (11:20):
You've moved from a project where you were working on a really inspiring project around Hope Village. Yeah. bringing fiber out, owned by the city of Detroit, open access, fiber. And I just I don't want to spend a lot of time rehashing that. I would like to sort of compare that then to like working through a city process. Now you're part of a lean and mean nonprofit machine <laugh> where you know, you have a, I would hope less red tape. Where's digital? What's the, what's the 90 seconds on what Digital C is?

Joshua Edmonds (11:50):
Yeah, so digital, C nonprofit technology, social we offer a fixed wireless solution. We're actually looking at wireline solutions too. But again, Internet at $18 a month and currently we are having plans to expand, to provide citywide coverage as well as even going to another neighboring city. So we'll be a regional Internet provider. Again, all built on an affordability, but leveraging NextGen wireless technology to do it.

Christopher Mitchell (12:14):
And it was created with kind of a unique situation cuz a lot of nonprofits don't start with a bank that digital seated. But Digital C got a a big infusion of cash. Correct. And its creation from the privatization of one community.

Joshua Edmonds (12:26):
That's right.

Christopher Mitchell (12:27):
The big nonprofit Northeastern Ohio event.

Joshua Edmonds (12:29):
Yep. Yep. So there was, there was they essentially bought out all of our shares and the agreement that we have now with everstream, their commercial Internet provider, they fiber proprietor should say. So we actually tap, tap into their fiber, which then allows us to build a line of site network throughout the city. Now we use unlicensed spectrum to deliver our services now that we've won the city's rfp that is allowing us to provide citywide coverage at 100, over 100. And so we've been looking at a beva vendors that can guarantee even going through foliage that we have some type of refractory technology that allows us to guarantee speeds minimum of 100, 100 through fixed wireless. It's still at $18 a month. So it's wild for us if there is a strong emphasis on enterprise in growing this social enterprise. Historically, Digital C has been much more of a nonprofit. I would even argue we've been more charitable. But moving forward with this ARPA funding, we know that we want this, this money to sustain because there will be a need for the next, you know, 5, 10, 15 years for an affordable broadband provider. And we want to make sure that we're sustainable in that

Christopher Mitchell (13:36):
At $18 a month as a nonprofit, you are seeking to be financially sustainable at that rate.

Joshua Edmonds (13:44):
Correct. So we will offer blended solutions. So, or blended services I should say. So $18 is our lowest tier. We will offer a $29 tier as well as a $49 tier. And so our thinking is if we're able to, to provide competitive competitive service, we are gonna be able to get some of these legacy customers from some of these other Internet providers who want to invest in a provider that is headquartered in the city of Cleveland. And that is mission driven. Mm-Hmm. <affirmative>. And so there are other things that we are looking at bringing to the table, but sustainability is definitely top of mind for us. It, it'd be great if we got other funding from elsewhere, but our mind is let's operate as if there is no other funding that the funding that we're getting from this RFP is all that's ever gonna come and we need to, we, we, we need to make sure we knock this out the park.

Christopher Mitchell (14:29):
You had to navigate an RFP through the City of Detroit. That's right. Working through that process. Now, as you're looking to make investments into technology for Digital C is that, is your more nimble, like do you feel like you have, like what, what is the pro and con of the different approaches?

Joshua Edmonds (14:45):
So I, in Detroit with Connector and three in the city, I think it's, it's worth exploring that first. So connector and three allowed us to effectively get things done faster. If our partners could philanthropically support some of our priorities that we had within the city, then there was no red tape we had to go through mm-hmm. <Affirmative>. So in that case it almost looked like a football player who knows Ballet, <laugh>,

Christopher Mitchell (15:14):
<Laugh>, a lot of the offensive and defensive linemen.

Joshua Edmonds (15:16):
Do they do? Yeah. They

Christopher Mitchell (15:17):
Gotta get that footwork

Joshua Edmonds (15:18):
Down. A a and so that's, that's what it felt like at times. Then there was other times where we were in the city side, the king seat, where from a chess standpoint, you only have one move on each side. You really couldn't move anywhere. And I think that's the part where it did feel very limiting at times. So freeing be a connector in three limiting within the city, but yet it was the most weighted powerful actor in the ecosystem.

Christopher Mitchell (15:41):
Right? I mean, the city has tens of millions of dollars available to help make this happen.

Joshua Edmonds (15:45):
Well even but let's say even if they didn't, let's say if ARPA funding was even there, it's the social and political capital and mobilizing that accordingly allowed us to get this other part too. And so I think like those are the things where very, very powerful. If uses correctly on the Digital C front,

It's a completely different pace. You know, we, my very first day November 1st of last year, I actually had to go in front of the city for the review committee for the rfp. So I went from Detroit government. October 31st is my last day. November 1st is my first day at the city. And I was at the, OR at Digital City. I was at the city of Cleveland. Actually next week we're going to be in front of city council again. We're gonna be talking to them about the rfp. So I'm actually getting much more engaged still with, with city politics in a way where I now know these ropes, but I still have to have an organization I have to run back too. And so, like those are the things where I would just say it's different. I think it might be a little bit too early for me to see the differences. Cuz I still feel restricted no matter what <laugh>, no matter where I'm going, it still feels like you need to perform and this is the city and this is the mayor setting this priority and you all need to do so. I, I, I see a difference, but it's a little bit too early to tell like how different they are.

Christopher Mitchell (17:05):
What's more intimidating and harder to do doing that first day in front of a city council. You're, you, you just came into town mm-hmm. <Affirmative> versus going in front of which I know you had to do the Citizens in Hope Village and saying that you missed the, the, the deadline, the schedule that you,

Joshua Edmonds (17:21):
Oh, the city council one was harder. It is harder. The citizen of Hope Village, that was easier only because we were honest. Like, and I honesty, while people might not want to hear it, they appreciate it. And see there was something that I saw in Detroit, so I didn't live in like really affluent areas when I was in Detroit at all. And there I was taught a value. Cause one of my neighbors kind of acclimated me and said, Hey look, I'm gonna tell you how it is here. If you're cool, we're cool. So act accordingly. And so I said, okay, well the cool thing to do is if I didn't do something right, let me get in front of you all and let me tell you why things didn't go the way that I wanted it to. Right. And it was met with respect.

People kind of just nod their head. They said, okay, all right, well thank you. Because so many times whenever someone stands up here and they're beating their chest and what they're gonna do, and then something doesn't go right, they don't come back. Right. But you came back in front of us and you told us what it is and we respect that. So I earned their respect and I'm thankful for that. The council won. Only reason why, actually, that one's not too hard either. I was just more so saying that's harder because I pay to rank 'em. But the council one's not too hard either because it's understanding where people are coming from. You have a lot of council members who understand the historic opportunity that's in front of them, and they wanna use this ARPA funding to improve their neighborhoods, their wards, their districts. So the beauty of it is, as we go in front of there, my job is to give them the certainty that they need so that they, that way they can tell their residents what's coming. So all I'm looking at that part, I'm the role of the empower there. I want to empower my council members to be able to think in a way where they can sleep at night knowing that they made the right decision by backing Digital C. So both, in both cases, they're easier, I guess, <laugh>.

Christopher Mitchell (19:02):
Right. So that's good. And, and I think that's good for people to hear. I mean, I think a lot of times there is a sense that these things are harder than they actually are. That's right. And I, I have, like you said, I have always found that when I am open with people and I admit like, oh, I don't actually know that thing, or, you know, I don't mm-hmm. <Affirmative> there there's a, there's a group of people that they think that like, it's a weakness not to know something. Yeah. Man. Like in the world we're living in, there's so much stuff <laugh>.

Joshua Edmonds (19:28):
That's right. That's right. And, and no, nobody

Christopher Mitchell (19:31):

Joshua Edmonds (19:31):
Everything. I, and I, I again like though that's human nature and that's like acknowledgement of human nature. And I think like, those are the things where, I'll be honest, my team at the city, they know I would index in this heavily. We have to understand human nature. We have to understand the way people think. And it's funny, now that I'm running Digital C as a WISP standpoint, we absolutely have to understand we have to sell our services. We have to understand people who don't fill out their census, who don't vote, who somehow are gonna book an appointment for Internet. Mm-Hmm. <affirmative>. That is a psyche thing that we have to understand. So the, the more we understand and act within the confines of human nature, the more successful we'll be. The more we distance ourselves, the more disingenuous we look. Mm-Hmm. <affirmative>.

Christopher Mitchell (20:12):
So lemme take you, tell you what I got from your presentation this morning. Joshua Edmonds, the man who said, we will not solve this with a coupon. We cannot solve this problem with a coupon <laugh> that the FCC rolled up on you in Detroit. They did. And intimidated you. They did.

Joshua Edmonds (20:29):
And you Oh, no,

Christopher Mitchell (20:29):
No, no. It differently now. They did.

Joshua Edmonds (20:31):
They hold it, they did not intimidate me. I'll put it this way. They surprised me. They did surprise me. I said, okay, okay. And yes, we cannot coupon our weight equity. That is true. I still believe in that. I do believe that the networks that are being built need to affordability actually put that at the center and not use that as an afterthought. But I also understand timing too. And I, I know that we can't solve for one without solving for the other. So it's like we can't yank out the affordable connectivity program and just say, oh, well there's no funding, funding ran out. Well, to me that's like, so we were successful so we won. So we showed that there was a need. So it's like, well, if you show that there's a need, then you're re-upping it. If the Affordable Connectivity program actually lasted for another three years, we failed.

And I think that's the, that's the reality that we need to be looking at. It's like, okay, wait, you mean to tell me victories now defeating us that we legitimately did the right thing here and now we're getting this pulled back from us? I don't believe that we should look at the affordable connectivity program as the end all be all. I believe that the networks need to be built smarter and much more intentional. But in the meantime, while those networks are still being designed, not even built at this point, just design, then I do think that it's only fair that we actually prioritize what's working right now and continue doing that. And then use whatever rate at which we are seeing the enrollment use that to undergird the way that we're designing these networks. I think that's the smarter approach.

Christopher Mitchell (21:58):
Do you, how replicable is Digital C do you think?

Joshua Edmonds (22:01):

Christopher Mitchell (22:02):
Which is, I mean was just to say that like, I, I feel like right now there's a strain of thought, which is more or less, I mean, a lot of people I think think all right, charter at and t and Comcast, like they're gonna solve a lot of the problem in the big cities. Yeah. I still think that's not the right solution. No. But I think people look at a, the solution of building a new network and they're like, oh, that's just too hard. It's too expensive. Yeah. It can't happen. And Digital C has such a unique birth story that I don't like saying people, well, look, Cleveland did it so everyone else can do it. Well, that's, that's kind of a one-off.

Joshua Edmonds (22:29):
Yeah, I agree.

Christopher Mitchell (22:30):
But like, what if we learned that? Like what, what if someone came to you from Memphis or New Orleans and, and was like, was like, Hey, what, what can we learn from Digital C? What would you tell them?

Joshua Edmonds (22:39):
I, I would tell them fixed wireless is a viable option and it's not going anywhere.

Christopher Mitchell (22:44):
And this is coming from the guy who is fiber, fiber, fiber,

Joshua Edmonds (22:47):
Fiber, fiber, fiber. But also our network runs on fiber too. So like, we need fiber to run our network. Mm-Hmm. <affirmative>. And so now do I believe in municipal ownership? Oh yes, I do. I absolutely do. But at the end of the day, I also believe in playing the cards that we have. And if there's a possibility for you to leverage a municipal network, if you have a mayor or someone county exec, anyone who actually can understand that, then you play that ace all day. Cuz that is an ace. But in the absence of your ace, your next highest card is whatever you have. And so in our case for Digital C well, if we already have fiber that's, you know, from a commercial provider that's willing to work with us, we can negotiate those terms accordingly. And then off of that, we can then provide a fixed wireless solution and then backend a cost model that works for us.

Mm-Hmm. <affirmative>. And so I would say that it's, it's replicable in the sense that there is not a, a single city in this country. And I don't believe this, and maybe I'm just being naive here, but I don't think there's a single city in this country where we just can't do anything. It's like, no, no, no, no, no. A hundred percent we can do something. Mm-Hmm. <affirmative>. And I do believe a fixed wireless network is something that should be considered much more than it is right now. N T I a while they mean. Well, I think that the oversaturation of fiber <laugh>, I saw that one headline, America has too much fiber in their broadband diet. And I'm like, man, that's, that's <laugh> that's a beautiful headline. Ah,

Christopher Mitchell (24:12):
Yeah. I mean, I think there's a difference. I think, you know, I I I think if you're making a generational investment in rural areas, like I think it is smart to, to go overboard on fiber.

Joshua Edmonds (24:20):
I, so I don't disagree, but I think that the issue that I'm seeing though, is when you swing the pendulum that far that way mm-hmm. <Affirmative> there are like, let's not discard good because we're seeking perfection. And so at thi in this case, yes, I do believe that for these broader, bigger investments, even from a future focused standpoint, fiber all the way. All the way. But also understanding that there are some cases where if you can do a fixed wireless solution, do that. And then over time you can still build. I think that there's like this like rat race that's happening right now. It's like, guys, look, we're not going anywhere. Mm-Hmm. <affirmative> like this, this issue's not going anywhere. Like we still need to be thinking creatively and putting all of our eggs in one basket right now. I'm like, no, we don't need to do that.

We can understand that that is the basket all of us want to get to. I believe that a fire optic open access network is the way to go. I think that's actually the supreme way to go even more than what we're doing right now. But I also understand the scales that and the weight that's going to be needed to get us there. Mm-Hmm. I just don't think that we're, we're near there and the only thing that people can point out right now are exceptions. And I'm like, no, those don't make the rule. Fixeds wireless is a viable alternative, at the very least for a shorter term that allows you to, I identify some of your broadband goals, allows you to get some fiber optic investment that then could then trickle in through a subscriber model. Then you can do additional build out too. Right.

Christopher Mitchell (25:43):
Right. Getting something out there today that serves people's needs today is far better than a plan.

Joshua Edmonds (25:49):
That's right. Like, go, go. I, I think this is the thing that I'm afraid of in this moment. There are a lot of plans. There's money that we spend on planning millions of dollars on planning and I'm like, guys, we have to go, this is our moment and if we try and squander this moment because we're looking for the perfect deployment, perfect solution, I think we're gonna miss this. And then by the time we actually get it out the oven, it's gonna be like, oh, people already ate. We're, we're kind of good.

Christopher Mitchell (26:14):
Last quick question, cause I'm running out of town. I'm gonna turn into a pumpkin here pretty soon. <Laugh> 10 years down the road, a lot of different factors could change in different directions. Do you think Digital C is three choices? Mostly wireless strong mix, mostly fiber in terms of the customers that you're serving. Strong

Joshua Edmonds (26:34):
Mix. Strong mix. There's, I, I know with other fiber optic buildouts, I actually have been looking at our MDUs and actually we've been developing internally a strategy. So it's like we know and we are a blended technology company. Mm-Hmm. <affirmative>, when I say we're a fixed wireless company, it's just because we do index much more heavily or unfixed wireless today. But at the end of the day, whether it's wireline, whether it's fiber or whatever it takes, whatever requires us to connect a household, that's what we're gonna use. Mm-Hmm. <affirmative>, thank you so much Joshua. Thank

Ry Marcattilio (27:02):
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