Building Frontline Digital Equity Tools at Education Superhighway - Episode 543 of the Community Broadband Bits Podcast

This week on the podcast, Christopher is joined by Evan Marwell (CEO) and Jenny Miller (Director of Government Affairs), from the nonprofit Education Superhighway. Begun as an organization aimed at improving Internet access for schools, today Education Superhighway focuses its efforts on leveraging data and on-the-ground work to bring solutions for the more than 18 million households with basic broadband infrastructure available to them but for whom the price of connectivity is too high. 

Evan and Jenny share more than a decade of work in working at the national, state, and local level to build tools like, which simplifies the monthly subsidy application process, and their LearnACP program, which aims to train frontline workers signing individuals up. Finally, they talk with Chris about Education Superhighway's work to collect and publicize eRate contracts, which has helped create a more vigorous marketplace for school campus connectivity, dramatically lowering the price and increasing speeds for k-12 education centers.

This show is 30 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.


Evan Marwell (00:07):
So there's two challenges that we have to overcome. The first is we have to get people to know about the program and wanna sign up. But the second is we have to make it a heck of a lot easier for them to sign up. And, and that's what we're trying to do with three different things that we're doing at Education Superhighway.

Christopher Mitchell (00:26):
Before we dive into today's interview, I wanted to make sure that you knew about a really cool show we've been doing for about two years now called Connect This because I've run into a few people who didn't know we've been doing this show. And it's a fun show. It's a panel show with usually four of us quite often, Kim McKinley, Doug Dawson, and Travis Carter all join me. They've been people that have been on this show and are all over the place in the broadband space doing great work. We get together to talk about what's happening over the course of the week in broadband, and you can find We record it almost every other week, and it's a live show usually on a Thursday, around two o'clock Eastern time. You can find all of our shows at, and that includes one that we're releasing brand new, just launched it called Building for Digital Equity.

You can find that one on building for digital And that show features shorter interviews with people doing that digital equity work many of them live interviews that we've done at places like net inclusion. And finally, I just wanted to note that you could always rate us. We haven't had any any really great ratings lately. So whether it's a community broadband, bits feed, the Connect This Show or building for Digital Equity, you should feel free to go out and give us a rating. Now, before we dive into this interview today with Education Superhighway, I wanted to remind you about the Federal funding programs, because we talk about them quite a bit. And they include the 42.5 billion Bead Program. That is the main one people talk about. And we also talk about the Capital Projects Fund, which is being distributed through the Department of the Treasury mostly broadband related funds very flexible use of those funds as well as arpa, the American Rescue Plan Act.

So we use C P F for Capital Projects Fund and ARPA pretty liberally. And I wanted to make sure you were remembering what those were. Now, I hope you enjoy this interview. Welcome to another episode of the Community Broadband Bits podcast. And I'm recovering a bit, my voice still isn't quite back yet. Did 22 interviews at Net Inclusion. I don't think that helped with the bug I picked up. But we're talking today about some really cool work that's being done to connect low income families in particular. We're talking with Evan Marwell, who's back on show after a long break. C e o of Education, superhighway, welcome to the show.

Evan Marwell (03:04):
Great to be here, Chris.

Christopher Mitchell (03:05):
And then we also have Jenny Miller, the Director of Government Affairs. Welcome. Thanks,

Jenny Miller (03:09):
Chris. Good to be here.

Christopher Mitchell (03:11):
It's, it's really great to see both of you. I'm especially going right on the heels of net inclusion where we saw so many folks that are doing this great work. I think it's a good place to start with just what does Education Superhighway do?

Evan Marwell (03:23):
Well, our mission has changed. As you know, the last time we saw each other, we were working on putting high speed broadband into every public school in America. We started that work in 2012, and about 10% of schools had high speed broadband that was sufficient for teaching and learning in the classroom. By 2019, we'd raised that number to over 99% of schools. And we actually thought we were gonna go out of business at that point, having completed our mission. But then the pandemic happened, and as with, you know, so many people and organizations across the country and the world, it, it really changed our focus. And so today we've switched our focus. We've launched a, what we call our 2.0 mission to work on closing what we refer to as the broadband affordability gap. So that is the 18 million households in this country that have access to the Internet, but are offline because they can't afford it. And, and those households make up about two thirds of the digital divide in this country, the, the other third being made up by people who have no infrastructure available to them. Something that I know you talk about a lot as well as people who, you know, for whatever reason are just not interested in being online. So, so our mission today is to close the broadband affordability gap by connecting those 18 million people who have access but can't afford it.

Christopher Mitchell (04:42):
Let's talk briefly about how you do that, cuz I feel like one of the things that you do that I love is you develop technology, like to help people in this work. And we're gonna talk about that in a, in a minute with one of the new tools. But in general, I feel like your philosophy is that you or a non-profit that also embraces kinda newer technology and tries to figure out how to use that to move the mission in ways that more traditional nonprofits aren't always so focused on. I think,

Evan Marwell (05:08):
Yeah, we're more in the camp of being a tech nonprofit than than a traditional nonprofit. You know, our approach to this work, similar to our approach with school districts wa is, is really has a a few different layers. So the first layer is, is policy. And policy happens at both the federal level, which is usually where the money comes from. It came from the feds on, on the e-rate side for schools, and now the Infrastructure Act and some of the other legislation that came outta the pandemic. The second layer is working with states because often states are either the place where the money flows to first as we're seeing in the infrastructure act, but they're also the best distribution channel that's out there to get to the, the people at the community level, whether it's school districts or some of the organizations will talk about that are working on the home digital divide.

And we need to use states as a distribution channel to get to them. So that's sort of our second layer of work that we, that we do. And then the third thing that we do is we try to really empower the, the organizations and the, the institutions at the, the level where the work can happen, where people can actually get connected. So in version 1.0 that was empowering school districts and, and we empowered school districts in, in a couple of different ways. So the first was we helped them with the technical expertise they needed, like what was it that they needed to put into their schools and how did they write an R F P and to get that stuff. We also help them with figuring out where to get the best deals. You know, we, we published this website that showed them what every school in the country was buying, who they were buying it from and, and what price they were pa paying.

And that website alone resulted in the price broadband for schools going down over 90% over the co course of five years. But then we also help them with finding the bidders, right, for who, who could actually provide them the service. And we're doing very similar things now on the home broadband side, right? We're, we're helping the organizations locally do outreach to the people who need to get connected, the people who are in this broadband affordability gap. We're giving them the data that they need to, to find those people, and then we're giving them tools to help them actually enroll in the A C P. And, and then we've got another program, which is all about putting free Wi-Fi networks in low income apartment buildings so that there is no enrollment that people have to do. So, so that's sort of how we do the work. We work at the federal level, at the state level, and then at the local level to actually get people connected. And you really have to do that last piece because if you don't do that, there'll be lots of money floating around and lots of policy. But as we've seen with many policies in the past, and I know you know this more than anyone, Chris, if you're not also working on the implementation where the rubber hits the road, the money isn't gonna get used effectively.

Christopher Mitchell (07:59):
That is true. And a second, Jenny, I'm gonna ask you about any additional things since you've worked with two different capacities in Education Superhighway at least. But Evan, I'm curious about the connection you're on. You're on a high speed connection every now and then, you're just dropping out a little bit. I think it's a, a nice reminder that that these things aren't perfectly Boolean right? Like, it's not like you have it or you don't. There's this gradations where you have a little reliability issue wherever you are.

Evan Marwell (08:23):
I'm in an office that I'm not usually in, and there's a lot of people here today, so maybe their Wi-Fi isn't set up

Christopher Mitchell (08:28):
Properly. <Laugh> could be. So Jenny you've been in a couple of different positions there with Education Superhighway. What, is there anything else you'd add onto what Evan was saying about how y'all do business?

Jenny Miller (08:37):
Evan's pretty good at like explaining what we do, isn't he? Yeah, so, gosh, I've been here a total of Evan's six years and you know, I think actually Chris, I've kind of done the same thing, but now in two different missions, right? So first it was just with schools and now I'd say it's, it's, it's also with schools it's more, you know, it's just focusing on the home broadband affordability gap. And, and I say that's also with schools in the sense that schools are just such a good channel to get the word out. And in particular there's two, Evan kind of touched on this, but there's two key programs that we're kind of focused on that we think to solve the broadband affordability gap with given you know, deluge of funding that's out there that can go a long way and be really impactful.

So the first one is a c p portable connectivity program, which I know you talk about on here and connect this. You talk about that all the time. Then the second one is this free apartment Wi-Fi, high-speed networks and apartment buildings that haven't touched on. So yeah, you know, I'm, I'm, I'm doing work kind of with state governments on you know, in both ES H 1.0 and 2.0. As we've seen before in 1.0, governors are an excellent kind of figurehead to put like an explanation point on an initiative to raise awareness to kind of, you know, just increase in, you know, the impact. And actually we just did a really cool event in Denver. Evan was there in person with the LG in Colorado. Lieutenant Governor Primavera helped us launch this a c p awareness campaign at the Denver Public Library. And it was just really cool to get her involved just to say, you know, like the Polish Primavera administration takes us really seriously and you know, wants to put our stamp of approval on it and boosting awareness is, is a big deal.

Christopher Mitchell (10:25):
Did you roll out that new tool? There is this and then is it a new tool to get ACP tool?

Jenny Miller (10:30):
So it's called And if you're listening, you can go to and try it out. It's optimized for mobile cuz if it's an ACP enrollment tool, lots of folks don't have Internet, so they're gonna have, they're gonna probably be on a mobile device. And the whole goal from our engineering team when they built this tool was to just kind of take the noise and the difficulty of the ACP application out. So it streamlines the process, it tells you the easiest way to qualify, it's gonna spit out a document checklist to tell you what you need to apply, and then it's also going to give you a list of free with ACP plans in your area. So you punch in your zip code and then it's gonna give y'all your plans. So in Colorado we also rolled out get So that's kind of a co-branded version with the State's logo on it. Cuz as we've seen with our pilots, trust is a big barrier to enrollment in a c p and government programs more generally.

Christopher Mitchell (11:27):
And we just did an interview with Meg Cofer on a new show that we launched with live interviews from Net Inclusion. And she was talking about how they set up within a the, I think it's a county building or local municipal social services building because people are often stuck there waiting in line and that's where they can get a lot of the forms they need anyway. And the very fact that they are inside the organization shows that they are trusted. They're not on the outside of the organization handing out leaflets and scamming people. They've passed that barrier of trust. And I just, I love that as a sort of understanding of how to go about, you know, building that trust, showing that trust and like in getting people signed up, it was a really good place to set

Evan Marwell (12:07):
Up. Yeah, that's really a great idea. We've, we've gotta do some of that. Jenny,

Jenny Miller (12:11):
I was gonna say I love it.

Evan Marwell (12:14):
I was, some of our partners are state partners to start using that as a, I can only imagine like sitting at the d mv, right? I was thinking the dmv, while you're waiting, why don't you sign up for the aac? I love that. I love

Jenny Miller (12:26):
Exactly Internet plan. Who, who wouldn't want that?

Christopher Mitchell (12:30):
Well that's why I was, I mean I was curious cuz it's, it's remarkable to me how people who are doing this work, there's still best practices that are being developed that haven't been shared yet. And just the fact that this tool is really gonna help and we can hopefully get a lot more people to, to be aware of that. There's so many people we've heard of. I mean my, my friend and in partner in crime Matt Rantanen on our Tribal work. He talks about the long list of people who started applications in Indian Country and just never finished it because they were just like, no, it's just too much work. It's not, it's not happening.

Evan Marwell (13:00):
Well, that's for sure. And you know, as we think about the ACP enrollment challenges, I think a couple things I'd love to highlight. Look, we're up to o I think your data says 30%, 31% of

Christopher Mitchell (13:11):
We might have changed the denominator though. That's the trick. Yeah. Okay. It's very hard to figure out what the actual

Evan Marwell (13:16):
Numbers are. So 30, 31% of, of eligible households have enrolled. The thing that's really important to understand is if you look at enrollment, the most unconnected communities, places where 25% or more don't of households don't have Internet enrollments, probably 5%, right? So this is a, this is a a, a real challenge for them and it's exactly what you were just talking about. So there's two challenges that we have to overcome. The first is we have to get people to know about the program and wanna sign up. That's the trust, that's the awareness building and all that. But the second is we have to make it a heck of a lot easier for them to sign up. And, and that's what we're trying to do with three different things that we're doing at Education Superhighway. So the first thing that we're doing is we've launched this get acp dot org mobile website to really let you know really quickly do you qualify, what's the easiest way to sign up, give the checklist that Jenny talked about, and then help you find a plan.

But we have much bigger plans for this. We're very hopeful that the FCC is gonna allow us to hook, get a c p right up into the national verifier so that people can go through the entire application in a much more user centered user friendly des kind of way. So that's the first thing. The second thing we're doing is we're providing real-time support for people. So we've, we've stood up a contact center where if somebody's getting stuck on what documentation they need on how to navigate how to answer different questions, they can, you know, chat with our contact center, call our contact center. And we think this is something that we need to do nationally, as you know, for at the state level or even at the national level, is have a place that unfortunately isn't like usac where you can never get them on the phone, right. That people who are going through the process can get the help they need.

Christopher Mitchell (15:13):
But this is something you're just funding this out of philanthropy to be clear. Like you're just, you're like, this has to happen. We'll make it happen.

Evan Marwell (15:18):
Exactly. We're funding this out of philanthropy and we're very fortunate to have, you know, a number of donors who truly believe in the work that we're doing and the importance of connecting these, these folks. The third thing we're doing though is that we know that something like 10 to 15 or maybe even 20% of people, if we're gonna get 'em signed up for the the A C P, they need to go somewhere for help in person. They're just not gonna do it on, on their mobile phone or even chatting with someone in a call center. And so we've launched something called Learn A C P, which is an online certification program that takes you through how do you answer all the questions the right way in the ACP application so that when someone that you work with for some other reason, you know, whether you're a housing, you know you're working in a housing authority or you're working at a health clinic or place like that, this will in 45 minutes, you can learn all the ins and outs of filling out the ACP so you can help them in person. And then we're building this net of these places, digital navigators, a lot of people call 'em where we're gonna be able to send people for in-person help and they'll have been trained and certified in how to do this.

Christopher Mitchell (16:25):
That's excellent. It sounds like a lot of work and sounds like someone believes that the a ACP will be along around longer than next summer

Evan Marwell (16:33):
<Laugh>. Well, I certainly do. I mean, look, I think there's all kinds of reasons why we need the ACP to continue, but I think the one that is most important for everyone that people aren't really talking about yet, but I think ultimately is gonna be the thing that really helps us get over the finish line is every single Internet provider that's gonna get money from the BEAD program is predicating their business plan for those networks on signing up new customers. Mm-Hmm <affirmative> signing up customers who today are unconnected. And many of those customers are the very people we're talking about who can't afford it. And so if the ACP doesn't exist, we're gonna build out a whole bunch of networks and nobody's gonna get on 'em cuz they're not gonna be able to afford it. And so whether you're in an urban area or a rural area, you're gonna need the A C P to make those business plans work. And I think ultimately that will bring people together to say like, yeah, we're about to spend 40 billion or 60 billion depending on how you look at things. If we don't have the A C P, we're gonna build a lot of empty networks.

Christopher Mitchell (17:45):
Yes. I think that's a, it is a very strong concern. And it, like you said, this isn't just an urban issue. Like there's a lot of folks in rural areas who are not paying to connect because they cannot afford it. But I wanna move on to the other item that you're working on. And so Jenny, do you wanna introduce us to what you're doing in the low income apartment buildings?

Jenny Miller (18:03):
Absolutely. Yeah. So that's a good segue. So ACP is great, it is a great program and it doesn't go far enough. So if you think about just the ease of just getting online a Wi-Fi network in like airports, libraries, other community spaces and so on. Think about that in mdu, some multi-family dwelling units or low income apartment buildings. The thing is just what we've seen with acp with the barriers to enrollment, there can be a lag, there can be documentation issues, all these things we absolutely need the A C P and this is a good compliment to just give folks apartment Wi-Fi ride at home. So this is a BEAD eligible expense. If their BEAD lays out a prioritization criteria that says, you know, there here is some criteria by which an apartment building is going to be prioritized for a BEAD eligible apartment, Wi-Fi buildout, you know, we have a whole team, we engineers, you know, service provider folks who've come over to this nonprofit who have built out this amazing program.

We're doing pilots Dallas, Charlotte Massachusetts and Boston. Lots of different pilots. The the thing is, is that states are definitely interested in this. And another thing I'll say is that states are, states are interested in this concept no matter how they fund it. So we're seeing a lot of states use arpa. We're seeing states use capital projects fund, like we saw the folks in Ossit, so Brian Mitchell and his colleague Brita in Nevada just got a big treasury award from capital projects fund to do exactly this in Nevada. And they're partnering with a lot of the housing authorities there in Nevada.

Christopher Mitchell (19:37):
No, I'm, I'm curious. So Evan because the word that was used is Wi-Fi and my antenna go up a little bit when I, when I hear about Wi-Fi and hallways and that sort of thing. Cuz I feel like I'm always focused on that connection, making sure there's a high quality connection to each unit some of the vagueries of Wi-Fi. So how are you addressing that?

Evan Marwell (19:55):
Yeah, so look, there are are different solutions that are needed in different kinds of places. If you've got concrete block construction and you know, some of the old housing authority buildings that were built, yeah, Wi-Fi in the apartment buildings in the hallways is not gonna be the optimal solution you're gonna need to get into, into the units. But what our testing has shown is that in many, many cases, if you put, just like they do in hotels, if you put Wi-Fi in the hallways, you can you can get really good reception inside, inside the units and, and, and if you need to, you can put a second Wi-Fi access point inside the unit to bridge over to the one in that's in the hallway and you get connections. I mean, we're seeing connections that are, that can be, you know, half a gig on, on, on those networks.

So you pick the right tool for the right thing. The advantage of doing it this way is that obviously it is a lot lower cost which means your dollars can go a lot further, you can connect a lot more people and your time to deploy is significantly faster. You know, when you go to an apartment owner and you say, Hey, all I need to do is run wires down the hallways and hook up access points versus you, you go to them and you say, I need to drill into every unit through the wall into every unit. It's a very different conversation and the willingness of of landlords to allow you to do that work you know, changes dramatically.

Christopher Mitchell (21:24):
Yeah. And we, we just did a a site visit with folks at Project Waves in Baltimore and it was somewhat eye-opening to also get a sense of drilling into a wall. Sounds like one thing, it's another thing to think you have to coordinate with more than a hundred families potentially on when you're gonna be there and are they gonna remember that you're supposed to be there? Then is the door gonna be open? Are you gonna be, are you, is there gonna be stuff in the way? All of those sorts of things. And so I I think it's a really good wake up call for people, you know, like me that are, that are very focused on that to know that there are real logistical hurdles to come with that. And if you can get around that in other ways, it's, it's, there's reasons why you'd wanna do that.

Evan Marwell (22:00):
Yeah. And look, the, it may not be the absolute best solution, but it's a sufficient solution. You know, it's a solution that will allow you to work at home. It'll allow you to go to school at home. It'll allow you to do all the things that we all know everyone wants to be able to do. And so I I think time to market and reaching the maximum number of people should be our priorities.

Jenny Miller (22:24):
The Biden administration's in, in the header for all NT documents says Internet for all on every single page of any N T I thing, right? I

Christopher Mitchell (22:32):
Continue to think was a mistake, but yes, it does say that

Jenny Miller (22:34):
<Laugh>. My, my point is just that like maybe, you know, maybe you're Chris Mitchell in Minnesota and you're optimizing for your, you know, your, your myriad podcast that you run and da da da. You need to have like a, like a stellar Internet connection when the status quo is students having to go into the McDonald's parking lot or sit outside in the parking lot outside the rec center to do their assigned homework. This is gonna be a massive improvement, right? So in terms of just like equity and just inclusion, this is gonna go a long way for a lot of folks. And like Evan said, you can make a big difference in months, not years.

Christopher Mitchell (23:05):
I feel like this is a good area for a bet, Jenny. And as a fan of connect this, you know, that we like to at least throw bets out there. We don't always follow up, but how many states do you think are gonna be taking advantage of the fact that they can use this BEAD money for this? Because my bet has been that there will not be very many. But you sound much more hopeful.

Jenny Miller (23:23):
So BEAD or arpa, C P f, any, any federal dollars? What do you think?

Christopher Mitchell (23:28):
I was, I'm more thinking about BEAD. I'm expecting most of the BEAD dollars are gonna mostly rural areas. Go ahead Evan.

Evan Marwell (23:33):
Yeah, so I was with you until we started talking to states about it. Mm-Hmm. <affirmative> and states are very quickly doing the math in their head and saying, I can, to way more people, way more quickly, way lower cost by doing this apartment stuff. So I've gotta blend it in into my program. Yes, rural is a priority, but we were in Colorado and they, they were one of those states that were like, oh no, we're gonna have to use all our money on rural. And then they like started thinking about the opportunity and they're like, hold on a second. We can get to a lot more people a lot quicker and really show some real progress sooner if we take advantage of apartment Wi-Fi. So I would take the over on, on half of states will do this.

Christopher Mitchell (24:20):
That's wonderful. And the word that you use is blend that I would just highlight, blend is the right word. Not

Evan Marwell (24:24):
Gonna be one or the other. They're gonna have to blend it all together.

Jenny Miller (24:26):
Let's be honest too, there's a lot of money out there. <Laugh> an unprecedented level of broadband investment. And I mean that's, that's that's great. I mean, we need it, right? I mean it's, you know, it's, it's not the nineties anymore. Like we, we, it's absolutely a need. It's essential. I kind of have an interesting lens just cuz I work with states one by one to implement these plan, right? What I am seeing is that states have maybe already leaned a little bit on say arpa, C P F, et cetera. And now that we're waiting, cuz like we've, we're all waiting, right? We're waiting for the BEAD funds, we're waiting for d e a funds, everybody's waiting for the money. And I think the fact is, is like there's a lot of money to go around. And so like a lot of states are kind of taking like a hybrid approach, right? You know, so there's like, let's also let's do, let's do like a, like a pilot with ARPA for like a small amount of money. Let's show proof of concept and then let's like blow it up and BEAD and really go, really go big, you know, let's connect more cities or more apartments or expand the criteria or go a lower go like a lower unit count, you know, slightly less economy of scale for instance.

Christopher Mitchell (25:31):
Mm-Hmm. <affirmative> realizing that different building materials, different solutions. Are you still seeing a common set of numbers in terms of cost per household of the MDUs? Because I'm guessing it's in the low hundreds you know, over a, a wide average?

Evan Marwell (25:45):
Yeah, it's probably mid hundreds. Okay. over a wide average. Yeah. You know, four or 500 bucks a unit kind of thing. If it's pure, like just Wi-Fi access points down the hallways, you're probably in the low hundreds. But there's gonna be, you know, some of these places where you've gotta, and, and, and there's two, there's two challenging environments. So one challenging environment is the wrong kind of construction, right? Concrete, you know, that kind of stuff. The other challenging environment is garden style apartments, which they're a lot of, right? Because then you've got like little clusters and you don't have these long hallways that you can run things down. So you take those two pieces and it's actually more that's higher cost than you would've thought originally. So

Jenny Miller (26:27):
Evan, what maybe you should share, what do you, what do we mean when we say garden style apartments? And I know these are very popular in the South, for instance.

Evan Marwell (26:34):
Yeah, so a garden style apartment just simply means that you don't have one big building with lots of floors in it and lots of apartments on every floor, but you, you have like little a whole bunch of little buildings that might have four or six apartments in each of 'em. And so to wire up that whole complex, you've gotta like do a lot more work to get to every building to get the, you know, connections there.

Christopher Mitchell (26:57):
Yeah, I think of those as campuses which I can see how that'd be much more expensive. So the last thing I just wanted to ask was relating to what you'd mentioned about making the eRate contracts public, something that I was frustrated about for years and we actually looked at whether or not we could do something like that and discovered that it was just way too complex for us at the time, so I'm super thankful that you all went and did it. Did it result in, in what you expected? Did bringing transparency to those contracts in and of itself change much?

Evan Marwell (27:27):
Oh, it changed everything. A as I said earlier, by creating transparency, we drove the cost of broadband down 92% in five years. And it has continued to fall since then. You know, people still have access to the site, the prices still going down. I think this year, Jenny, correct me if I'm, I'm wrong. I think this year was the first year that we hit under $1 per megabit for per month for, for bandwidth. And when we started, the number was $22. So wow. It made a huge difference and it made a huge difference in two ways. So first it gave schools for the first time the information they needed to be better buyers. But second, and this was the thing we didn't anticipate, it gave service providers the information they needed to go figure out which schools they should go big proposals to because they had a much better deal than what they were getting. And the combination of those two things created a market and and it's something that I think we need to do more of in everything we need to do it in healthcare. We need to do it in, you know, so many different aspects of, of the way things work in this world that we could drive, drive costs down for people with more price transparency.

Christopher Mitchell (28:43):
Yeah. Now I'll just, I want to emphasize that because there's a lot of argument about program design, how these things work, and bringing transparency can just change a lot without having to fiddle around with other things. So that's just, it's terrific and it's been terrific talking to both of you. So thank you both for taking the time today.

Evan Marwell (29:01):
Thanks for having us. Appreciate

Ry Marcattilio (29:03):
It. We have transcripts for this and other podcasts available, 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 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 Hesby for the song Warm Duck Shuffle, licensed through Creative Commons. This was the Community Broadband Bits podcast. Thanks for listening.