ARPA Funding, Telehealth and a Good Rant - Episode 497 of the Community Broadband Bits Podcast

This week on the podcast, Christopher is joined by ILSR Community Broadband Networks Research Team Lead Ry Marcattilio-McCracken and Communications Team Lead Sean Gonsalves. During the conversation, the three discuss stories from the big list of American Rescue Plan Community Broadband Projects, Sean’s Broadband Breakfast Telehealth Op-Ed with Craig Settles, and why healthcare providers aren’t advocating for universal healthcare. They also get into ILSR Researcher Christine Parker’s recent piece breaking down Broadband Now’s Broadband Pricing Changes report. Christopher ends the show by ranting about inaction by cities to address the digital divide, with Sean and Ry weighing in.

This show is 32 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.


Christopher Mitchell (00:07):

It's two years of pandemic. What, what is it gonna take to get a city to act as opposed to just talking about maybe making a plan someday? Welcome to another episode of the Community Broadband Bits Podcast. All right, start, start off a little slow there.

Sean Gonsalves (00:25):

yeah, your energy was started off low, but you hit, you hit the note. You hit the note.

Christopher Mitchell (00:29):

Yeah. we're recording on my wife's birthday. I just had lunch with her. And on the way over, we listen to the Tig Notar podcast. I usually listen to podcasts at between 2.0 and 2.5 x, and she listens to them at 1.0 x, which is normal speed. And Tig Notaro talks slow. So I'm in this kind of slow state of mind right now. <laugh>

Ry Marcattilio-McCracken (00:50):

<laugh>. I've been in that car, Chris, and that, that podcast your podcast speed is unintelligible. So I'm, I've been in that card. It's painful. <laugh>.

Christopher Mitchell (01:00):

yeah, I mean, you know, I I, it keeps me from driving off the road. I don't know, it's like this weird adrenaline effect.

Sean Gonsalves (01:06):

How do you retain anything? It's like listening to like a podcast, like an auctioneer or something, right?

Christopher Mitchell (01:11):

Yeah. I mean, I would say that I slow it down to like 1.5 or, you know, like somewhere in there if it's like a show that is a new ground where I'm not really sure what's going on, but, you know, when you're listening to like, like a whole bunch of shows that are saying the same sort of things over talking about, you know, what's going on in Ukraine or what's going on in tech policy and stuff, you know, you're sort of like listening for new things. You're not trying to like file every last detail away, I feel like. Yeah. So and the other thing is, is that like public radio shows, like they're designed for people that are, are quite a bit older than we are. <laugh>. Maybe Sean may not feel that way, but, but it <laugh> my understanding is that as you get older, like, you know, like you really do start to like slow down a little bit in your preferences. So I feel like there's a lot of space you could take out of those kinds of shows for people who don't recognize the voices, though, these are, these are the, the other two of our three senior leadership folks in the community broadband networks team at the Institute for Local Self-Reliance. we have Sean Gonsalves welcome.

Sean Gonsalves (02:07):

Thank you.

Christopher Mitchell (02:09):

And Ry Marcattilio-McCracken<laugh>.

Ry Marcattilio-McCracken (02:15):

Thanks, Chris. Thanks for that.

Christopher Mitchell (02:16):

You have a name that lends itself to it. What can you do? We're gonna talk about a couple different topics to today that there's so much going on and we wanted to touch on some of 'em. I wanted to rant a little bit, I've ranted this several times to a lot of people around me, so if you've heard it already, I'm, I'm sorry. Maybe I've improved it a little.

Ry Marcattilio-McCracken (02:32):

Maybe just kick it up to 1.5 X or two x,

Christopher Mitchell (02:34):

Right. Maybe <laugh> <laugh>. But I want to, I wanted to start by highlighting something that that Ray and and also Emma on our team and working on in particular, which is compiling this big list of, of broadband projects. Not all just community broadband projects, but a lot of broadband projects that have been funded by the American Rescue Plan. So what's happening there in Rye?

Ry Marcattilio-McCracken (02:57):

Yeah, so this is a big that we started about I wanna say maybe six or seven months ago to try to just get our heads around what's happening with the rescue plan money and how are communities planning to use it? And so it seemed like at the time it was a good idea just to start tracking down which communities are considering projects and which ones have planned projects at this point in time. that list has, and it is by no means comprehensive. So if you've got if you take a look at it and you've got a good project that maybe we're missing on there, don't hesitate to shoot us a note. it's got 187 community led projects across 45 states, including 22 states, which have announced significant broadband programs for new infrastructure.

Christopher Mitchell (03:41):

So nearly every state has something, but like half of them are doing something really cool. Is that how you break that down?

Ry Marcattilio-McCracken (03:48):

I think that's fair. Yeah. And I would venture to say that probably every state has some sort of community led project and we've just, you know, it's hard to wade through all the, all the noise

Sean Gonsalves (03:58):

Except for my state,

Christopher Mitchell (04:00):

Massachusetts, which,

Sean Gonsalves (04:03):


Christopher Mitchell (04:04):


Sean Gonsalves (04:06):

Massachusetts, that's gonna

Ry Marcattilio-McCracken (04:07):

Be, there's a great, there's a great Mike Burbiglia special who called, and he, and it, he calls it Cat Ka Massachusets. I can't remember why. What, that's a great joke. You,

Christopher Mitchell (04:18):

I can't, I can't hear Mike Burbiglia without thinking of LaQuinta in <laugh>. he is that whole act about his sleepwalking is is terrific <laugh>, but I drive by LaQuinta in which for people who aren't aware LaQuinta in, in Ammond, Idaho has the best broadband. You can almost get in any hotel anywhere. because they, the owners of that are a big supporter of the municipal fiber network there. And I learned a little bit about LaQuinta in during stays there and talking with Bruce Patterson from there all LaQuinta ins welcome you to bring your pets, and that's pretty cool. They're dog people, I guess.

Ry Marcattilio-McCracken (04:58):

Wow. Who should knows that this podcast is not brought to you by looking to him, but maybe it could be.

Christopher Mitchell (05:03):

Yeah. maybe just the one in Ammon. I mean, our sponsorship rates can't be that big. <laugh> <laugh>. They could afford to run the app even if they, even if they don't have a bunch of in a budget <laugh>. So are there any stories from the big list that leap out at you Ry?

Ry Marcattilio-McCracken (05:19):

sure. I guess I could share a couple of interesting ones. So one of note Hillsborough, Oregon, they just started building their municipal network in 2021. and they've announced they're going to commit 3 million of their rescue plan funds to, to that project and essentially speed it up. And so that, and that's an interesting one because they specifically designed the rollout of their phase zero and phase one deployments to reach the, the neighborhoods of Hills Hillsboro that need connectivity the most. And so people there can take advantage of the bridge program they've got and get, I think it's gigabit symmetrical for $10 a month

Christopher Mitchell (05:58):

For the low income folks. Yeah. for people who aren't aware, Hillsboro is a I think considered a fairly wealthy suburb. a lot of high tech folks there in the Portland area. I think Intel's located up there, has a lot of employees. they were gonna be doing a 10 year build, I think was the original plan. And you know, this is not the first time we've heard this. anytime a community says they're gonna do something in 10 years, in my head I'm like, right, four or five. I get it <laugh> because as you start building, like maybe something comes available in terms of money, I mean, Chattanooga got that 111 million from the federal government, from the Department of Energy after they started building, after they committed to it, that allowed them to speed up. And the other thing that happens is the political dynamic changes where, you know, the city council members start hearing from people in their district who are like, are we gonna get that in 10 years? Because I'd rather get that like tomorrow. Tomorrow would be good. so a lot of things can change when a city commits to something on a longer timeframe.

Ry Marcattilio-McCracken (06:56):

Yeah. I think the landscape really changes, and the local conversation changes once that first subscriber is lit up. Right.

Christopher Mitchell (07:01):

yeah. So I think that's that's an interesting one to watch. And I've been wanting to get them on, but I've been waiting in line with what I keep telling you, which is you know, we we're trying to make sure we're focusing our coverage on people that have done things, not people who are announcing things. So I think it's about time we, we pulled in the Hillsborough folks to, to hear right from them what's, how things are going.

Ry Marcattilio-McCracken (07:22):

I think. So there are plenty of other people to talk to as well from that big list. Grayson, Kentucky is going to build a hundred gigabit per second network that's gonna hit, I think it's about 1700 premises 4,200 people living there. And so that's in response also to you know, them living in a natural disaster prone area, and the fact that they have had to deal with, you know, emergency responders having no connectivity you know, several times over the last decade. And so you know, it's about that as well.

Christopher Mitchell (07:53):

Yeah. So there's a, there's certainly a lot of project going on. There's new ones being announced every day, it seems like. So we'll keep updating that list. If you go to muni it's somewhere on the left hand side. Is it under learn or resources, or am I just making up a menu? Names now? <laugh>,

Ry Marcattilio-McCracken (08:11):

It's, it's under resources Yep. On the left hand

Christopher Mitchell (08:13):

Side. Yeah. Resources. So if you're looking at resources, you'll find American Rescue Plan projects or something like that, and you can get your, make your way to the big list that way on every one of our muni networks dot org's pages.

Sean Gonsalves (08:23):

It's great and terrific to hear about and to see all these projects getting underway. Although it stuns me though, how many places, I mean, the, the, the rescue plan money's been around now for, for some time. And it's just amazing to me that the, the number of communities and even states that are kind of dragging their feet and just sitting on it or scratching their head.

Christopher Mitchell (08:43):

I do think some of that has to do with the change in the rules. you know, it looked like to a city administrator or a city lawyer, it looked like it might be complicated to spend that money on broadband. you know, even just six months ago it was that change in rules in January, if I wanna remember correctly, when did I do all that dancing? Was that January

Sean Gonsalves (09:02):

<laugh>? I think that was Jan. Yeah, I think that was January

Christopher Mitchell (09:04):

Ish. and, and at that point it became easier. And so I, I hope that we'll continue to see more cities taking advantage of, of that money to do that. And so for people who aren't tracking it as closely we're talking about the slur fir money, the state and local fiscal recovery funds. The other, one of the other things we wanted talk about was telehealth and Sean you published something you know, I, I know that, that this is something that you only had to put a few minutes in to get together this op-ed <laugh> about telehealth <laugh>.

Sean Gonsalves (09:37):

It was a pleasure to work with Craig, Craig Settles is who we co-authored this piece with. But, you know, I will say that you know, they say many hands make light work, but you know, sometimes when it comes to writing, you know, especially when you're used to doing things in the kind of a solitary fashion, it's a interesting process to collaborate. But so this piece was published on broadband breakfast, and it was, you know, Craig actually had a, a stroke a year ago, and

Christopher Mitchell (10:04):

Oh, no, it must have been like four or five years ago, I think at this point.

Sean Gonsalves (10:07):

Really? Was it was that long ago?

Christopher Mitchell (10:08):

Oh my God, believe so. Yeah.

Sean Gonsalves (10:09):

Craig, if you're listening to this, forgive me, forgetting the anniversary messed up, you know, through, through that experience, it was a real, you know, eye-opening experience for him in terms of the power of telehealth connectivity and, and healthcare, particularly as it related to him. I, it, it, it turns out that the, the hospital that he was brought to their stroke center was set, the, the, the surgeon that set up that stroke, that stroke center had essentially mirrored all of the technology that at the stroke center in her home and, and was able to virtually be there when he came into the emergency room, which turned out to be lifesaving in, in, in many ways. And so that was part of what we, that was, that was sort of an aha moment for him and has been thinking about this for some time.


And, and of course, this is something that we talk about and think about all the time. And, and that piece was really looking at and making the case, or essentially hopefully raising the question in people's minds of the potential for improving health outcomes and the tremendous savings that can be had with a robust telehealth connectivity and how that could also be the thing that could really drive broadband adoption. When, when, you know, when, when folks wrap their mind around the, around what that means. I mean, of course, most healthcare systems these days have great connectivity, but if the patients that are on the other end don't have,

Christopher Mitchell (11:32):

Or the doctors

Sean Gonsalves (11:34):

Or the doctors have, you know, reliable high speed internet connectivity, then it doesn't, it, it, you know, it doesn't amount to much. So

Christopher Mitchell (11:41):

If that doctor was on vacation, you know, someplace where they didn't have good connectivity we would be down Craig, potentially. And, you know, I mean, it's one thing to talk about cost savings, and I think those are important, and those also will touch lives. But we're all fortunate that Craig's still able to keep doing the work that he's been doing it for so long.

Sean Gonsalves (11:59):

Yes. Yes. And so in, in the process of doing this, you know, I keep coming back to this question of why aren't healthcare providers, you know, shouting from the rooftops or really advocating for universal broadband for everyone, you know, to really advance some of the, the, the promise that telehealth holds, not that telehealth is some magic elixir that fixes everything, but there's certainly, as, as rye as knows. Well, there's certainly a lot of studies that have shown the how, how significantly it can impact health outcomes.

Christopher Mitchell (12:30):

I think some of our colleagues at the Institute for Local Self-Reliance would suggest that part of the reason that we don't see that howling is because there's so many monopolies in that space, and even if they're supposedly non-profit monopolies they're run by the bean counters, right? These are, and and oddly enough, they're like, I, I say that. And like, I mean, your answer might be, well, if they're run by bee, how come they're not making like these smart investments <laugh>? Like, and that's because bean counters are like, I think more moved by like history and than they are by new evidence. And they're conservative, not in a political sense, but in a sense of just never wanting to change anything. right. And I think they're not really that well attached to the communities anymore. So I, you know, I think there's a real systems problem. There is what I would guess.

Sean Gonsalves (13:14):

Yeah. And, and also, I mean, as with all things, you know, there's so many complexities and nuances, but the, the other thing too, I'm sure that's a part, part of the equation is, you know, every state has, you know, different laws as it relates to health telehealth, and then there's questions around the kind of reimbursements you, you know, you can get through, you know, through healthcare providers.

Christopher Mitchell (13:32):

But I mean, it goes further than that too. Like, I mean, Ry, you just, you spent so much time working on this for a report that'll be coming out in our lifetime <laugh> wish people could see that smile of Ry as he is waiting for me to finish reviewing a key part of it. <laugh>, he's been waiting. the the, the academics I feel like also haven't really captured, is it, is it just because it takes so long to study this stuff and we're kind of impatient about it, but I was, I was pretty disappointed with what we found in terms of official materials, in terms of, of just evaluating different telehealth options using modern technology. Yeah,

Ry Marcattilio-McCracken (14:08):

It's a good question. I think, and to speak to what you two were talking about earlier, to some extent, my guess is it's a problem of communication across the different components to healthcare. Not only the clinics and the hospital systems, but the insurers and then the people who are doing the internal research and the industry analysts, and then the the academics who are, you know, doing their own thing. And so putting all that stuff together in a compelling way, and then shepherding it through the system into a successful telehealth project, and then collecting the data that you need and the quality of life improvements, the, you know, personal narratives to justify the continued existence of that program is not necessarily a, a fast process. And and so take some time and,

Christopher Mitchell (14:53):

You know, I, I just had this flashback, I know Sean's a huge fan of basketball, so he'll get this right away, but I'm reminded of Wesley Snipes and white men can't jump. It's hard work. It's hard. GD work, <laugh>,

Sean Gonsalves (15:06):

That's a great movie, <laugh>. That is a good movie

Christopher Mitchell (15:08):

And I mean, that's, and I mean, I'm right. The one thing I would add on to everything you just said is it's even harder than that because when we talk to hospitals about this, they're like, we don't know which of our customers has broadband. You know, like, and then, so that's the part of the problem is that, is that and why Sean, I mean, we can sort of end this, this segment by noting exactly what Sean was saying, which is like, we need to think of broadband as being a subsidiary of healthcare to get it out to everyone, because it will save more money in the healthcare system than it costs to deploy broadband, subsidize it, and get the digital skills taught and all that. you know, we can do all of that and still save more money in the healthcare system than if we just continue on the status quo. and so we kind of gotta break this chicken and egg thing by just going big on telehealth is something that I feel like we're all leaning in the direction of, for

Ry Marcattilio-McCracken (15:58):

Sure. Mm-hmm. <affirmative>.

Christopher Mitchell (15:59):

Mm-hmm. <affirmative> before we I think we're gonna, we wanna lead into my rant in another few minutes here. Ray, you, one of the people on your team, Christine, that does a lot of our research work, she just did a magnificent job taking down an absurd study. why don't you tell us about that?

Ry Marcattilio-McCracken (16:15):

Sure. So broadband now, which people are probably familiar with published a report at the beginning of February, which seemed to claim that broadband prices across all the major speed tiers had dropped by something like 30% from 2016 to 2021. In other words if you read the report and you read a lot of the media coverage afterwards, you would walk away and think oh, my broadband bill has gone down by 30% over the last five years. And I think that accurately captures most of our experience <laugh>. and

Christopher Mitchell (16:49):

We go, yeah, I mean, I, I would've surprised this only 30%. I mean, I feel like I, I, I feel like I don't even pay anymore. You know, like <laugh>, I think Comcast deposits money into my account every month at this point. <laugh>,

Ry Marcattilio-McCracken (17:00):

Mm-hmm. <affirmative>, yeah. Mm-hmm. <affirmative>. So you know, obviously we looked at, we looked at the report and we were excited to, to dig into it and see like, you know, what, what was under ping it all. And unfortunately, what, what ended up happening as the report was very short and very thin and if not poorly written, at least methodologically not clear enough in, in what it was actually ca actually capturing which was, you know, not necessarily the absolute price of broadband that people were paying for the households over time, but the fact that speed buckets have changed prices over the last five years as you know, everybody has upgraded their network infrastructure and and speed bucket prices have gone down a little bit. Right. which is not necessarily anything all that revolutionary.

Christopher Mitchell (17:45):

Yeah. I mean, as we're gonna, I feel like we're some, this is my Friday afternoon joke show, and just runs, there must be a horse in here somewhere. There must be a pony in here somewhere, right? <laugh>, like all of this horse apples. so the study I, I come back to this line that I feel like <laugh> is, is I'm the only one that seems to appreciate, but I'll use it one more time just to get it out and per permanently archived on the Internets. which is that like, I mean, the study is basically saying that like, yeah, like in 2012, you would've paid all that money for that car, but like, if you try to buy that car now in 2020, it's a lot cheaper. So like, cars are cheaper now, right? <laugh>, like, because like that 2020, like the 2012 like Toyota that you would've got you know, is so much less now than it was it's ridiculous. No one thinks of broadband in these terms. this is what we'd expect to happen. And I I'm, I'm, I'm sorry to see that the state of our media is such that that reporters found this credible and amplified it, it's ridiculous.

Sean Gonsalves (18:47):

Well, and, and, and that's, that's part of the danger and what ends up happening. And it's like, you know, you know, you, you, you, you see a headline like that, or you see a story like that, and as an individual person, it doesn't, you know, it doesn't align with people's experience. Like, you know, anybody that sees that is like, what? Wait, what? That, not me, and probably nobody that they know, but, but that kind of reporting, you know, really just serves us cover for policy makers to, you know, to do certain things that, you know, and have a, you know, you know, the guise of evidence to support what they're doing. And it's, it, it, it's, it's, it's a real shame

Christopher Mitchell (19:23):

Right now as we're talking, they're wrapping up. I think that the hearing on the broadband label, which would help give shoppers in the marketplace a better sense of what they're likely to get and, and make prices more clear, IMiD all this, this, this misleading promotional prices and things like that. And person representing us Telecom shoeing up there and said, cited that study and was like, what's the problem? Right? I didn't actually see it. Right. You saw it, I think, right? cuz you watched that sort of stuff. I just take credit as though I watched it and and repeat what you tell me.

Ry Marcattilio-McCracken (19:54):

Yep. and I actually screenshotted the comments that were made. this person said, a recent study by broadband now found that prices for ultra high-speed plans have decreased by almost $60 per month. That is remarkable. And a testament to the investment America's providers are making to close the digital divide. This is a result of how competitive the broadband marketplace has become.

Christopher Mitchell (20:15):

So what's interesting is, we talked about this right when it came out or so with Doug Dawson and Kim McKinley on the Connect This Show. wait a minute, what show was that Chris? The Connect This show that we do. And and Doug made a really good point, which I think a lot of people don't realize how concentrated the market is for broadband in the us. because almost all Americans on getting broadband internet access get it from like fewer than 10 companies, right? Like most people get it from Comcast or Charter, and then there's other cable companies, and then there's like at and t and Verizon and Lumen. And and so in order for prices to have declined that significantly, it would mean that Charter and Comcast would've had to have been slashing their rates over those years because mathematically it is not possible to arrive at an average if like 75% of the US is on three providers, and those providers are raising their prices. You know, the other providers would have to be like depositing money into their customer's accounts in order to make up the difference and to make the total amount paid drop. And so it's just like logically it's ridiculous.

Sean Gonsalves (21:20):

Right? Well, and, and it, it's amazing that people can say certain things with the straight face, I mean competition. Mm-hmm. <affirmative>. Yeah. You know, <laugh>, the broadband market is one of the least competitive markets in existence. I mean, it's, it's, you know, there's not many things you can think of where it's like, oh, I have a choice of either the local incumbent provider or, or nothing.

Christopher Mitchell (21:40):

Yeah. I mean, it gives you a sense of how much work we have to do, right? I mean, this, like, this thing, I mean, we're celebrating these different investments, but like, you know, most of these investments are in towns that have hundreds of thousands of people where they're gonna get competitive markets, right? That's less than a percent of the US population now. We're hoping to see that those trends grow. You know, we're part of this larger effort of even private companies coming in, you know, more public investment in public-private partnerships and things. but the market is very consolidated. And I don't know if that's not something I can rant about. I could rant about this other thing as we move into it, which is that you know, something that Sean wears his passion on his sleeve more like I do. I've never seen Ry get as upset about this, but like, I don't, I'm just so annoyed at cities that aren't doing anything yet.


you know, I went to the net inclusion event that the National Digital Inclusion Alliance put together. NDIA is wonderful. It was inspiring in many ways, but every now and then I'd see a city on stage, usually a larger city. Not all of them that were there, some of them aren't doing things, but they would say like, oh yeah, like, you know, we have this rescue plan dollars coming and we're making this plan and we're gonna talk to these people and maybe we're gonna find some partners. And I'm looking at my watch and I'm like, it's two years of pandemic. Like, what, what is it gonna take to get a city to act as opposed to just talking about maybe making a plan someday? you know, fortunately we have some cities, you know, Baltimore, it looks like Detroit. We have some cities that are gonna be doing some smart things and taking action.


Maybe they'll make some mistakes. They're gonna try and solve this. I'm just so tired of hearing from people, this is an emergency. We have to have a hundred meetings and, and think about like, who's gonna develop a plan in five years? Like, no, like get something going or find a new job, right? Like, I'm just like, I feel that passionately about it cuz I'm just like, I believe this is an emergency. I've been, all of us have been working our butts off trying to like, help resources and stuff like that. And to see cities that right now have unli unprecedented amounts of funds available to them, and they're not doing much with it yet. Or the fact that Minneapolis is probably just gonna write a big check to Comcast for that, and when that money runs out, well, too bad. Like the families will figure something out at that point. Like, just come on.

Sean Gonsalves (23:47):

Right. Oh man, thank you. I, I I I I, I felt every word of that and I, I I, I'm in a thousand percent agreement. I, I wonder it's, I wonder if city officials often just don't see this as being in infrastructure, like roads and the stuff that they build in, in, in, in,

Christopher Mitchell (24:04):

They shouldn't act like it.

Sean Gonsalves (24:05):

Yeah. And they

Christopher Mitchell (24:06):

Talk like it, right. But they don't act like it.

Sean Gonsalves (24:08):

Yeah. Yeah. It's bizarre to me. but, you know, and then also I, I'm sure too that probably in the grand scheme of things, you know, a lot of, a lot of municipalities, a lot of cities probably feel squeezed and, you know, have this like, laundry list of things that are super important that they've underinvested in for, for a long time.

Christopher Mitchell (24:28):

I think this, I think no one can prioritize anymore. Like, I just, I feel like people just can't prioritize. Like, you're right. Absolutely right. There's tons of stuff they wanna be doing. They wanna hire eight different administrators to talk about like their meaningless contribution to climate change. Like, I care a lot about fixing climate change. Like I think it's a major issue, but like St. Paul, Minnesota, like hiring three new people to like, focus on that is not gonna move the needle People. Like, let's, let's get things done that we can get done.

Ry Marcattilio-McCracken (24:51):

And the beauty of broadband, right, is that every dollar you spend on a municipal network or something that's locally accountable, that comes back to the community many times over, right? So if you wanna talk about an economic investment that's gonna pay dividends for 30, 40, 50 years, uhhuh, it's almost a no-brainer

Christopher Mitchell (25:07):

For the amount of money they put into sports stadiums, right? I mean, that's the amount of money we're talking about. We're not talking about like a historic investment anymore than US Bank was a historic investment investment for the county, the city, the state of Minnesota, right? Like it's a 20 year investment. They understand that, right? They want the Vikings to stick around. Like, I, I just, I mean, people act like this is like, you know, something that's unprecedented. The electric systems were more expensive, they built water systems out to everyone a hundred year, 120, a hundred years ago or something like that, you know? Yeah. Like our generation hasn't had to do it before. Like, just look back at the different things cities have had to do. They have to prioritize and decide what's important. And the thing is, is that it's not important. And it's not important because the people who vote, the people who matter, they can afford the Comcast service, right?


They can afford the cable service and they're not happy about it, but it's not leading them to change who they vote for. And so public officials don't wanna say, oh, these people who don't vote as much who live in public housing, you know, that it's not that they don't count, they don't ever wanna admit they don't count, but they don't count. Right? <laugh>, like, that's what it comes down to. No one in, no one in public office is afraid of upsetting a single mother, a single, you know, a single parent family that's struggling and, and not on the internet, right? They wanna, they wanna talk about how, like they'll argue about the schools and how we have to you know, we have to like argue about how much teachers get or something like that when these kids are going home and they, they have no access to resources to do their homework or to learn like anyway, I just, you know, it's, it's really frustrating and it doesn't have to be this way.

Sean Gonsalves (26:32):

Well said. Yeah.

Ry Marcattilio-McCracken (26:34):

And it's not that, you know, anybody who's looked at the history of technology and knows the, how these other complex human systems were built knows that there are mistakes that are gonna happen along the way. the first time we do it, you know, we're gonna learn things and we'll do it better and better. And so this idea that we need to make sure that we don't make a single mistake before the first person gets connected is kind of a ludicrous one.

Christopher Mitchell (26:54):

Yeah. I I think that's totally right. Right? I mean, this is a thing I struggle with, right? Every now and then we try something new, it's terrifying. Like, you know, so like, you know, if I'm doing something someone else has done, I got like a playbook, right? Like, if we're trying something new, God, it sucks. It's so much more work and it's, and you know, you wake up in the middle of the night, you're like, am I, am I thinking of this? Right? You know, you're calling up other people trying to figure out, like, it is, it's hard work, but like, that's why we're electing these people. Like, it's not like, you know, it's not like it's supposed to be an easy job. I just feel like a they need to do a better job, but also people need to have higher expectations. Like, it drives me nuts to, like most of our major cities now are, are democratic cities and no one's ever gonna vote for a Republican and in like, any kind of majority. And so the Democrats feel very confident about it, but we need to hold these people to higher standards. And I said, I've been saying this for years about Republicans in rural areas, right? Like, they haven't been doing enough to get broad men out to those rural areas, and they need to be held to higher standards. I'm not telling people to vote for a party they don't like, but like we need to find ways of holding these people to higher standards. And, and that's gotta be their first step.

Ry Marcattilio-McCracken (27:53):

And the problem now, right? Is there's so much money coming down the pipeline that five years from now or 10 years from now, you know, the, the argument that we need to fix the remaining digital divide is gonna be even harder to make because we've spent all this money. That's right. You know, some of it's gonna get spent poorly, some of it's gonna get wasted. but hopefully, you know, when we're talking a year or two years from now we'll be much more optimistic about the, what the future looks like.

Christopher Mitchell (28:19):

Yeah. I mean, you, it's hard to imagine Congress appropriating more money until this money's spent. And so we're looking at six, seven years, maybe eight or nine years. So yeah, like this is the, this is the thing that's moving. Like we gotta get it done now or else, you know, cities can pay for this themselves. Like, I mean they could, but then they really have to prioritize, right? Yeah. So like this is the opportunity and I, we just need people to get better organized. You know, a great way to do that is to come to our event on Wednesday tomorrow. If you're listening to this really quick, maybe if you're listening to this on Wednesday, quick check and see if it's a two o'clock Eastern yet <laugh>, because we're doing this event and it's gonna be recorded. it's a digital equity event. it's gonna be fun. I'm not gonna be ranting at all. I'm gonna be very positive. I'm pretty sure. <laugh>. So but it's gonna have a lot of great speakers and we're gonna be talking about how cities and, and, and states and others are building coalitions to tackle these problems. There's a lot of hope but someone's gotta do the work in each community.

Sean Gonsalves (29:14):

Yeah, I'm looking forward to it. I think it's gonna be fun. I'm especially looking forward to the trivia.

Christopher Mitchell (29:18):


Sean Gonsalves (29:19):

Even though I won't be able to play. Cause I guess I, you know, kind of have access to the,

Christopher Mitchell (29:22):

You can play, you just can't, you won't get the award if you win. Right. It'll go to like the number two person if you win. Cuz like, you developed some of the questions, some of the better questions, I think,

Sean Gonsalves (29:31):


Christopher Mitchell (29:32):

I mean, we, we have good contribution contributions from everyone, but like, we're gonna have a video question like with photos and I'm pretty sure that that was yours.

Sean Gonsalves (29:39):

There we go. You know, Hey, doing, doing my part. You know, <laugh>.

Christopher Mitchell (29:44):

Cool. Well thank you both for, for spending some time when you're just trying to wrap up projects at the end of the week. I appreciate a chance to jump on the podcast with you.

Sean Gonsalves (29:51):

This is actually always fun.

Ry Marcattilio-McCracken (29:53):

Yeah, it is. Thanks for having us, Chris. Appreciate it. Cool. We have transcripts for this and other podcasts available at muni Email with your ideas for the show. Follow Chris on Twitter, his handles at communitynets, follow muni stories on Twitter, the handles at muni networks. Subscribe to this and other podcasts from I lsr, including building Local Power Local energy Rules, and the Composting for Community Podcast. You can access them anywhere you get your podcasts. You can catch the latest important research from all of our initiatives if you subscribe to our monthly While you're there, please take a moment to donate your support in any amount. Keeps us going. Thank you to Arne Hughes, beat for the song, warm Duck Shuffle, licensed through Creative Commons. This was the Community Broadband Bits podcast. Thanks for listening.