Fast, affordable Internet access for all.
Cities Doing Work - Episode 519 of the Community Broadband Bits Podcast
This week on the podcast, Christopher is joined by ILSR colleagues Sean Gonsalves (Senior Editor and Communications Team Lead) and DeAnne Cuellar (Outreach Team Lead) for a roundup of recent news. They talk about the release of our new tracking and advocacy tool, the Affordable Connectivity Program dashboard, the pace and speed of the municipal broadband build in Pharr, Texas, pilot program aimed at low-income households in Syracuse, New York, Boulder, Colorado's broadband plan, and Erie County, New York's revived connectivity plan.
This show is 33 minutes long and can be played on this page or via Apple Podcasts or the tool of your choice using this feed.
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):
Welcome to another episode of the Community Broadband Bits podcast. I'm Christopher Mitchell at the Institute for Local Self-Reliance in St. Paul, Minnesota. And today I'm speaking with two of my senior management team folks. I got Sean Gonz ordinarily up in Massachusetts, chilling down in Florida, who is our editor and and researcher and writer and thinker and communicator. And I think that almost gets to all your job titles, Sean.
Sean Gonsalves (00:40):
That's right, that's right. Top of the morning or afternoon, top of the top,
Christopher Mitchell (00:44):
Right? Yeah. Whatever time, whatever people are listening to. That's, that's, that's what time it is. We're wishing them a good, a good morning or afternoon. And we got, and we got D. We should, you know, I like to call you D but I actually feel like we could call you DC DeAnne Cuellar, who is our organizing team lead, I believe. Is that right? I hate titles. What matters to me? It sounds like that <laugh>, like what matters is that you do, you do all the local organizing assistance that we provide and things like that.
DeAnne Cuellar (01:13):
That's right. I'm happy to.
Christopher Mitchell (01:15):
So we're gonna talk about some different topics in the news. And I thought we would start with one that actually I think the two of you were the least involved in out of all of these topics. And that is the affordable connectivity plan dashboard program. Dashboard. this is something we unveiled. is it this week? It feels like so long ago. We've been working on a few. Yeah. No,
Sean Gonsalves (01:36):
It was last week.
Christopher Mitchell (01:37):
Okay. Last week you did the press release. So, you know, so, so what is the ACP dashboard and why are we so excited about a dashboard?
Sean Gonsalves (01:45):
I think we're excited about it because it's one of the hot hottest things going right now. Not just the dashboard, but the program itself. And that's because it helps so many so many families. so many households, like
Christopher Mitchell (01:57):
More than 12 or 13 million, I think. Now. I think that Chair Rosenworcel just announced that.
Sean Gonsalves (02:02):
Right? and tho and that is for the for the $30 per month discount, $75 per month if you, if you're a tribal citizen, that subsidy from the federal government that helps pay for internet subscription internet service subscriptions. and for, particularly for folks in Indian country, it's a, it's, it's a real lifeline. and certainly that's true for a, a number of households who are enrolled in it, who are getting the $30 a month discount, which for a number of households, it makes what was unaffordable at least doable. and so the, a CCP dashboard for me, the thing that makes it so interesting is that you can go to the dashboard and find out state by state zip code by zip code, even at the zip code level, how much is being spent as of right now how many folks are enrolled. And
Christopher Mitchell (02:56):
And most importantly, I, I think I assume you're saving for last for a reason.
Sean Gonsalves (02:59):
Yes, yes. See, I was trying to build it up, but most importantly, I think, which is when our predict predictive map or predictive algorithm or whatever you call it predicts the money will run out. and that's a, a huge consideration, I think, because it's not that long before the money will run out. Sure. And it needs to be reappropriated unless, or there's going to be millions of folks who are gonna be surprised that what was the, the, to see their bill suddenly jump up and, or, or worse maybe they find that they're kind of stuck with something that they can no longer afford. Or they could be perhaps, you know, termination fees associated. Now certain folks feel like that actually wouldn't happen to folks in terms of, you know, termination fees and things like that. But still, the point remains when this money runs out, there's gonna need to be a reappropriation and the way things work in terms of re appropriating, probably the time is like now to start thinking about how to lobby for that.
Christopher Mitchell (03:59):
Right. Yeah. Def probably right after the election, like I mean, yeah. Thinking about it now to do it right after the election, probably. Absolutely. so always wanna come back to something, cause you said our algorithm and it's definitely the work of, of of a few people on the team to make this a c p dashboard. You know Christine does a lot of our GIS and data crunching. and, and, and Christine worked with Ry and Emma on, on this whole project to make it happen. I mean, I, I don't know that we could pick a single person without which we couldn't have done it. Like there's just a lot of really great contributions, but the dashboard is elegant, it is attractive. The predictive model that, that Christine worked out is has different ability to assume different amounts of people enrolling because we, we don't expect a hundred percent of people to be enrolled in ACP and how many people enroll. you know, at what speed changes, how fast it will run outta money. So that's all there and, and predicted. And there's a it's updated regularly whenever new information comes out. So we're gonna be keeping our eyes on it. And, and I'm curious, Deanne, if you have any thoughts about this? I mean, I know you have a lot of thoughts about the A C P, but this is a great time to jump in and share 'em.
DeAnne Cuellar (05:14):
I had this like, vision in my head when the research team was working on this project. Like, if you watch Wild, wild Westerns or Yeah, westerns, like from the Wawa West, and there's like the Cowboys going out to have a fight and coming back, you know, that they lost or won, which means like, I felt like we won when the research team was able to go live with this dashboard because it's such a huge advocacy tool and
Christopher Mitchell (05:38):
So pretty. And that was, for me, that was, that was one of the things I kept harping on, is that they were doing really great work and getting the numbers together. And I'm kinda like, but can we make it prettier? Like <laugh> and Emma really stepped up for that. and I really appreciate that.
DeAnne Cuellar (05:50):
Yeah. And I, like you hear on tv, like, show me the money when you do advocacy work. It's like, show me the numbers. And so the ACP dashboard was great, cuz like if, you know, if you're able to go on there and click on it, you can click on your region, the region you're competing with, and you, you know, you've got data that you can visualize and numbers to have a conversation about the pros and cons of this program.
Christopher Mitchell (06:12):
Yeah. So ACP dashboard.com is a place to go to learn more about that.
Sean Gonsalves (06:18):
And, and, you know, we, I may, maybe we don't wanna reveal it here and maybe f folks should see it at the dashboard, but we actually didn't say when, when the model predicts the money will run out.
Christopher Mitchell (06:27):
Yeah. It's but like you said, it's sooner than expected. I think many of us and, and Aray takes this very seriously. Mm-hmm. <affirmative>, you know, as a, an academic historian. That's right. Futura and historian and and I, we're, we're expecting with different changes coming about basically two years from now, right? Yes. in it'll be in 2024, we're pretty sure, but likely kind of late summer fall likely we think. Right. so this is I think, you know, something we're gonna continue looking at we do not think ACP is a great long-term solution. Like, let's just be clear about this, right? Like, we wanna track the numbers. And I feel like with a lot of this stuff, you can find the information if you know where to look. And generally it's in Excel tables and things like that.
But we wanna to try and make it accessible for people. But we all, and we think a CCP is important to, to make things more affordable in the broken marketplace we have. But I just wanna note that we are not seeing very many steps to, to fix a marketplace. And so, like, it's really important we put more money in the a c p cuz nothing is gonna change in the next two years to make things more affordable. every, everything we're seeing is that the prices are gonna keep going up and and probably up faster you know with what's going on. and I should say that I actually think that could be a very local phenomenon. I mean, you know, there's stories about how Colorado Springs and several other places are, are getting a lot of fiber investment right now in locally we may see a number of places that it becomes more affordable.
and this actually, this wasn't on our rundown to think about it all, but I don't know Deanna, I know you saw it closely, and Sean, I think you, you know, paid a little bit of attention. But that report coming out of Los Angeles showing that prices were lower, where people have more money, you know, where there's competition and the same services or much slower services are, are more costly in, in areas neighborhoods that have lower incomes. that is what I would expect to see more of in, in the future, is that the competition may be working, but it'll be working among people that have the most disposable income. You know, I think the, the Biden administration talked to good game Congress. We have some great folks in Congress who tried to make structural changes, but there was enough people owned by the cable and telephone company that didn't really happen.
Sean Gonsalves (08:47):
It's a, it is unfortunate, but that is the, the, the, you know, going to your point about ACP being this important program, it's, it's sort of the quickest way to get people connected that can't afford internet service. But of course the infrastructure has to be there or the service needs to be there. But it is a, a short-term solution. And so far as this is a symptom of a broken market where you've got, you know, monopoly interest prevailing, you know, when you've got, you know, a monopoly controlling the market, you, you would expect that the, that that things will be not very affordable for, for, for most folks, particularly folks that are really financially strapped.
Christopher Mitchell (09:25):
Yeah. And so that's where we can dive into far Texas where, where they're doing something about it. That's really interesting. When I was interviewing folks in far who are building a municipal broadband network at one of the fastest paces we've ever seen at the most affordable rate that we might have seen ever since Lafayette launched with a $20 a month tier in Louisiana. this is a $25 a month tier for 500 megabits symmetrical, crazy affordable speeds in one of the least connected cities in a city that I thought of as being very close to <laugh> to DeAnn in San Antonio. But it turns out that Texas sure is big and that little lump that pokes out the furthest south is, is very big and long too <laugh> so far is what, three and a half hours away from you at 80 miles an hour. DeAnn? <laugh>,
DeAnne Cuellar (10:13):
Yeah. It's far.
Sean Gonsalves (10:15):
Yeah, it's far <laugh>.
Christopher Mitchell (10:17):
That is far. So, so you're, you know, I think you took some interest in this and we're about to publish a story about it to go with the podcast we just released on it. But Dean, what are things that jump out to you about Farr taxes?
DeAnne Cuellar (10:30):
the number one thing that jumps out to me about the city of Pharr is there willingness to try to do something different. Like you said, the speeds and the rate and the, you know, the, the collective community coming together for a solution. I think that that's what sticks out to me the most.
Christopher Mitchell (10:47):
Yeah. And, and when you say that, I think it's worth highlighting something that Sean, when you're talking to some of the folks in Massachusetts and elsewhere, what, what's one of the things we were just talking about that they were saying about why, oh, like our city couldn't do it, you know, this
Sean Gonsalves (11:00):
Right. Which is because there, there isn't a municipal utility or, you know, already existing. So there are a municipal electric utility. There are folks that think that if you, if you don't have a municipal electric utility that already exist, cities can't do this kind of stuff.
Christopher Mitchell (11:16):
Yeah. So enter far Texas, and also Fairmont Ohio is another one we often talk about. there are cities that are showing that with a good plan and the right partners you can make it work. and not just that, but I mean, dang, I, I, I still, we don't, the podcast, I recommend people listen to it. I feel like I wanna go back in and listen to it again cuz I'm still trying to figure out how they're gonna pull off a sustainable $25 a month, half a gig package whi which is based on them, I think serving nearly everyone, but
Sean Gonsalves (11:44):
Right. I I think that, yeah, I think 65% is the take rate that they're shooting for mm-hmm. <affirmative> to make all of that work. Although, you know, considering the connectivity there, they pr you know, they probably have a, a a, a good shot at at, at reaching that, you know, tho those k that kind of take rate.
Christopher Mitchell (11:59):
Well, that's where I think it's interesting and, and DeAnne, you know, a lot more about South Texas than Sean and I obviously, but a city of 70,000 that doesn't have a decent cable option is it's kind of surprising you know, just generally for a population of that size,
DeAnne Cuellar (12:13):
It's a huge population in my mind, you know, for a city that's not in municipality, you know, here in Texas and where those cities are located along the border. I mean, the whole state is like that. It has a, has a purpose. So I think that what you have down there is not only this idea of willing to try something new, but the leadership is also quite unique, right. You have a mayor who's in a position of leadership that happens to also be a medical professional who's been working closely with stakeholders for his entire career. And so I think that this this mayor is probably working closely with, with his city staff to, to think about all the possibilities for a solution. And what we've got is far,
Christopher Mitchell (12:54):
And I think they credit National Digital Inclusion Alliance with pointing out that far, was one of the worst connected cities as providing a motivation for them to make that a priority to fix among, I mean, they have multiple priorities, they have a lot of challenges they're dealing with, but they, this is a, this is a case of city politics working, right. It looks like where the city identified a key issue that it wanted to work on. It's, it's, it's seized federal dollars that are available to it. And it's, and it's also we're trying to dig into the financing more to better explain it, but Right. but that's where you know, I think we, we, we complain a lot when things go wrong, but this looks like things going pretty right.
Sean Gonsalves (13:34):
It, it looks that way. You know, one of the things with, with, you know, I think the estimated price tag for the network construction there is 40 million, which to me seems like a pretty low number for, for, for, for a city of the size. But, you know, I, again, I don't know far away Deanne and others do, you know, maybe there's a lot of multi dwelling units in, in, in the city and, you know, where they're able to, you know, pass many more premises than other cities are with a, with a little bit less of an investment.
Christopher Mitchell (14:01):
When you raised that, I pointed out I think Longmont, which is a little bit bigger and had some preexisting assets. I think they built in that similar neighborhood of cost five brought to everywhere mm-hmm. <affirmative>, but it did take 'em four years and far as looking to do it in less than two, so. Right. you know, it's, it's really impressive. It's, it's a low number. It's not so low that I would think it's impossible.
Sean Gonsalves (14:23):
Christopher Mitchell (14:23):
So with that, I feel like it's worth jumping over to Syracuse, which none of us know anything about <laugh>, so why not talk about it on a podcast. But I just wanted to point out, it poked it, it jumped up. And between Farr and Syracuse, it's, it's a reminder that again, we live in a system in which sometimes people get really, I, I feel like they get really cynical and, and they sort of feel like we can't do anything to change anything. Well, people in Congress made the American rescue plan in order to provide flexible money to cities to make sure they could put it toward broadband infrastructure that passed the White House you know, initially relaunched some rules that looked like they were kind of etched in stone. We didn't think that they would change, they were pretty restrictive on how cities could use it.
And cities like Syracuse and maybe far might have had to jump through more hoops to use this money. But after a coalition of cities working with the National League of Cities and, and us and others you know, worked with the White House, they relaxed those rules. And now we're seeing cities making really interesting investments. And, and so Syracuse is moving forward now with a plan to build publicly owned infrastructure for low income folks. And I think this is what I want to talk about is Syracuse is doing it, but I think this is what we believe is gonna be happening more and more in a lot of bigger cities. Not that they're gonna come out with a plan to build everywhere like far is, but that they're gonna say, we have some money, we're gonna target an investment, and if we make it work, well we're gonna expand. You know, we're gonna, we're gonna build on that. And, and that I think is the smartest thing a bigger city can do.
Sean Gonsalves (15:56):
You're right. I, I think what's happening in Syracuse is that they're putting out, you know, an RFP to move forward with this pilot program that you, you talking about, which is building out connectivity to just, to households in the city that don't have access to high
Christopher Mitchell (16:10):
Speed. I thinks like 2,500 in a given area. Like it's a, it's a fairly small number, but it's 2,500 folks that need a, need a
Sean Gonsalves (16:17):
Solution. And, and, and they also want to enhance their, the, the, i I think their existing municipal network for the city in terms of smart city applications and things of that nature. So and
Christopher Mitchell (16:27):
Because I think they haven't done this in the past, right. Sorry, I cut, I cut you off like eight times now, so I should let you finish one thought. No,
Sean Gonsalves (16:33):
That's okay. I was, I, my thoughts come in chunks. and one, and, and one thought that occurred to me too is that I know that, for example, Cambridge and Massachusetts is another city that's been, you know, kind of kicking the tires on a municipal network for, and there's some momentum there to mo to push forward there. Now they're, they're getting, you know, they're, they're, they're now doing a serious feasibility study and are looking at that. But Cambridge is, happens to be a city that has a lot of cash reserves on hand. So if they really wanted to build a, a citywide municipal network, they could, without, even, without having to think about raising taxes or anything like that, looking at Syracuse may be something that, you know, a, a city like Cambridge may wanna do because they may wanna focus have a more targeted approach in terms of creating a, a, a more limited network that reaches the, the folks in, in the city like Cambridge that don't have access to broadband.
Christopher Mitchell (17:21):
Right. And in Cambridge in particular, it's really useful that that city manager that was, I, I think it was the tire that kept kicking back <laugh> you know, that he's gone now and so they can actually move ahead. Cuz they've had a lot of political support for getting serious about making some investments. And I feel like, you know, we've seen this from too many people who they're too scared by this. They don't want to do it. They, they'll talk about how broadband's super important, but they won't actually take steps to <laugh> to like fix the problem. And and I want, I think we should see more cities that are holding their elected officials and appointed officials at the highest levels accountable if they're not taking action to resolve these issues. So that, and in the conference of that conversation, I just remembered that we had a different piece of the ACP to talk about that I just barreled right over as we moved too far too quickly. and that's what, what a recent exciting development regarding recruitment for a CCP and dn you've been following this closely. what's going on with the ability to pull more people into a c p?
DeAnne Cuellar (18:22):
Well, when the, ACP program you know, really hit the mainstream, two things that popped up was, one, that it was difficult to enroll, and two, that there was no funding allocated for people on the ground that would end up assisting people with to with enrollment. So that has since changed as we, you know, predicted and expect us. And now there's a hundred million dollars that has been set aside for funding governments and nonprofits to, to assist people to, to enroll by household. The application is not available yet. and nor are the rules that are gonna govern the ga grant making process. But it, it's good. It's it's not too late, but it's, of course, it was something that could have been probably helpful ear early on, but it's here now.
Christopher Mitchell (19:08):
And I think the thing is that we still don't really have a good sense of what is really going on with a c p. We, we have a suspicion that the, ACP signups have mostly been from companies that have a history of working in low income neighborhoods and have a whole path and like a, you know, a whole like system worked out for getting people signed up for these sorts of things. And so I think it was envisioned that ACP would help bring new families to connect to the internet, but, but it seems that it's more the people who have gotten signed up or people that happen to be in areas where there are people that have either commercial interests or, or, you know, like community obligation interests to try to connect people. So for instance, if you look at the maps, like several reservations have very high numbers of signups because they've had you know, a real motivation to sign up people that are living on the reservation to get the $75 a month to actually build out a network.
In many cases that would work. And in other cases we see that 60% of the people signed up are using it for mobile services. And we suspect that that's the companies who were using the mobile lifeline they're using that same infrastructure. And, and I think that's not really what we envisioned, right? Like we really wanted this to be more about people getting a high quality connection in the home, kids being able to do homework as opposed to subsidizing a mobile wireless plan which is important for people or best, the best they can do. But you know, I think we're, we're hoping that this plan will help move people to a more sustainable connection. although as we said earlier, there's not a more affordable connection on the way for most people unless you happen to live in Syracuse or far Texas.
DeAnne Cuellar (20:48):
Right? Well, yeah, and that was the other tool or re you know, talking point that came out of the dashboard that Sean and I were looking at. We were for a period stuck on the, like the top 10 and like the, the lowest enrollment, you know, cities. But that changes day by day. And we right off the bat thought like, wow, people are gonna look at that and say like, my city's doing great. Look at that. We're in the top 10. And if you really zoom in, it means like, your city's doing great because the need is so big, enrollment is high. So, you know, it's a double-edged sword, you know, it actually points to lack of competition, lack of affordability and which means there's probably other issues going on. But I wanted to point out something related to competition and affordability back to Los Angeles, where that, you know, where we found out about the neighborhoods having having different costs, they've been serving the community and they were somewhere around thousand surveys. But the, that community going out there and asking households to share their rates has now blossomed across the state. So now Los Angeles has collected close to 2000 you know, survey results about people throughout the state of California that are reporting, you know, the disparities and the, what they're paying and what they're getting.
Christopher Mitchell (22:00):
Excellent. What's the umbrella group that's doing that work?
DeAnne Cuellar (22:03):
The, it's the Coalition of Digital Equity stakeholders and organizations working in Los Angeles County.
Christopher Mitchell (22:09):
The I feel like this conversation has been too positive. So I want to, the flip side of what you were just talking about on the ACP dashboard and the top cities, I think is, I w I found it interesting that Minneapolis was one of the worst cities in terms of signup among, among the surveys, the cities that were surveyed. And that came right after Minneapolis had gotten a trailblazer you know I forget what the term is, notification award or acknowledgement from the National Digital Inclusion Alliance. And it looks to me like, I mean, I feel like Minneapolis is one of these cities where we have elected officials who are good at checking boxes and pretending like they care about things, but then ultimately not actually making structural changes. And that's what we've seen. I mean, I don't see a lot of folks in Minneapolis for the city really trying to fix these problems.
I, I see them pointing fingers and hoping that Comcast is gonna solve the problem. And it didn't surprise me that Minneapolis showed up so poorly in the rankings, and it did surprise me that they were seen as a trailblazer. But I feel like this is something that people, I think need to look closely at their local governments and say, you know, Hey, are we just engaging in box checking or are we actually moving the needle here? I feel like you have a response to that, Dean, you can tell me I'm wrong, but I'm, I'm just curious how you, how you think about that cuz you've been, you've been working in these cities and you've seen that tension.
DeAnne Cuellar (23:24):
Yeah, I think there's more to do than checking off boxes. You know, that's the point that I, that I would make. And the other talking point that goes along with that is like, if the community cannot see progress and you can't track towards success for closed on a digital divide, you're just checking boxes.
Christopher Mitchell (23:38):
So this is where we'll, we'll pivot quickly and then we're gonna wrap up to two plans that I I think are interesting. Boulder, Colorado is nearly completing their their broadband plan, which is not, I think the final plan they have, but is the, the step of building municipal fiber throughout the town to connect anchor institutions and things like that. And Erie which is the county that Buffalo is in in New York, is has simp has has recently revised that plan. And Emma May have published a story on this, I know Emma's working on it. And yes. And so like, if it isn't published yet, it'll be up soon by the time this podcast is up. And it's interesting, I think, you know, something that we will see is more of these cities that are focused on that building out infrastructure.
And I, I think there's a good place for that. But I also think that if you think building, you know, just down arterial streets is going to solve this problem, then you are going to be unhappy in a few years <laugh>, because, you know, it, it may help some providers get to some places. And I mean, I'll say that like companies like Ting are are pretty good about taking these networks and building out to everyone from what I've seen. you know, other companies may also be doing that. They might be doing it more aggressively in some cases and still other companies will look at that and say, Hey, I can get to that wealthy neighborhood or that, you know, that strong middle class neighborhood that's gonna hit that, you know, 40, 50% take rate and I'm gonna go there and then I'm gonna go to a different town and I'm gonna go to those neighborhoods There.
this is kind of the Metronet model, like, hey, what if we just left behind a lot of the people that are harder to serve <laugh>? And so I'm worried about those sorts of, of approaches, but I think it's smart. And I, I'm curious, you know, I wanna get a reaction from both, both of you about this because I've candidly made the case to cities that I don't think are ready to build a network to the home. Like in St. Paul, I've my own city, you know, I, I feel like if the city was to announce tomorrow that they were gonna build a municipal fiber to the home network, I would be gravely concerned about their ability to execute that <laugh>. But I have said that, you know, like it would be smart for them to have assets throughout the city where, and the term that I use is if they wanted to project bandwidth into neighborhoods in the event of a pandemic or things like that, they would be able to do that without having to beg Comcast or someone else to, to mess around. And, and I think it's smart to do that as an interim step, but I think we need to be realistic about how far that will take us.
Sean Gonsalves (26:04):
Yeah, I think that's, you, you, you're always much more practical in thinking about these things, which
Christopher Mitchell (26:09):
Is Yeah. But C Sean, you have like decades of covering local government, and so I feel like you have a better sense of like how things work and the politics and like, just like a reality that like I'm, I'm always curious how you react to things like that when I'm like, this is the way a city could do it. Like if you have a, a strong reaction.
Sean Gonsalves (26:26):
No, I don't, I actually don't have a strong reaction to that. And, and I, and I think that's what I'm saying, I think it's practical because I think the kind of the way that you're laying out is actually probably less likely to bump into some of the politics that can really jack a project up that's, that's more ambitious.
Christopher Mitchell (26:42):
Right. But no city council, the reason it doesn't happen more is no city council member gets to become mayor by saying, I built a network that nobody sees and nobody uses really <laugh>.
Sean Gonsalves (26:50):
Right, exactly. You know, and this stuff also often takes longer than an election cycle. I've never ran for office, but I suppose it may be tough campaigning on something that you can't really say elect me for the next, like three or four terms in a row. So I can see this, this thing through <laugh>,
Christopher Mitchell (27:06):
Right? And Deanne, I feel like, you know, you're in one of these cities that has that access and, and has generally refused to take advantage of it. I mean, in this case you have a municipal electric that has the, the asset and they're kind of independent from the city. But
DeAnne Cuellar (27:18):
Yeah, we, we have municipal fiber in the city of San Antonio and we have people who have ran on you know, doing things with the fiber and ha and we have people in office that make you know, closing digital divide and community broadband infrastructure, you know, when of their main issues. It's not an easy topic to advocate and, you know, ask people to vote for you on, you're right, Sean. Like it takes a while. But I think the, we've got some new people that are in office and then are running for office that are gonna make this their issue based on the resiliency of their city. Like now it's not only is it front and center for like older adults and kids, but now it's like infrastructure pandemic. We need the internet. it's still moving pretty slowly, but at least it's more mainstream and it, it's now more popular knowledge.
Christopher Mitchell (28:07):
Yeah. I think that that word resilience it means something more to me now in part, I have a close friend who is in, not in the path of, but is in the vicinity of the Fairview Fire in California that's already claimed multiple lives. And you know, I, I can't say that I'm a very close television news watcher, but I was talking to someone yesterday and I was just saying, I feel like we've gone from, oh my God, there's a massive fire in California to, oh my God, there's always fires in California to people are dying in California and fires and it's not even a big story anymore. and and I mean, people are dying some cases, not in this case, but sometimes in their homes because they can't get warned fast enough. And, and I mean, having, that's where we need telecommunications that will work, you know, among other things to make sure that people have the warnings that they need. And so, I mean, yeah, I mean it's, it's remarkable. I remember, you know, not to turn this into a climate change podcast, but I mean, I remember 20 years ago people are sort of laughing, oh, ha ha ha like Minnesota will be nicer now that we'll have climate change and like, you know, we're seeing, we're starting to see the effects and they're gonna get worse and we need to take emergency communication seriously. On that note, that's <laugh>.
DeAnne Cuellar (29:19):
So we went from like super positive to like, let's give you some really bad news
Christopher Mitchell (29:23):
<laugh>. Yeah, I mean, we got, well, I think what we could say is that there are definitely highs and lows and and you know, like anything else, like I feel like Sean's always ready to tell us what's going wrong, but, but Sean's also kind of on vacation and so like you're looking at what's happening, what's happy out there.
Sean Gonsalves (29:39):
Exactly. You know, life, life different when you're chilling <laugh>. And we didn't even talk about what's going on with in Louisiana, in East Carroll Parish.
Christopher Mitchell (29:47):
Yeah. Boy, I'm looking forward to seeing how that gets resolved. We have to keep digging in to get more details on, on that and the other challenges that's something that we are working on behind the scenes and if anyone has information about where incumbent providers are abusing the challenge process for state grants or other kinds of grants, please reach out to us. we know that, you know, Nick Coates and Peggy Schaffer in New Hampshire and Maine respectively. you know, but we need to, to get more information about this because this is, this is awful and we need to make sure that that we're gonna do something about it. So we're gonna turn that negative story into a positive one. That's cause I think we can see that's right. We're gonna see a lot of states enacting better rules to make sure we don't have this kind of crap.
Sean Gonsalves (30:31):
Right. That, that, that's what, that's what I think will be the silver lining of, of that kind of information. So that states realize that, you know, we, we need to put, we need to have rules in place that have a little bit of teeth that discourage you know, existing providers from, from making fraudulent claims about areas that they serve. Yeah. And, and there thereby delaying projects or for years or, or, or you know, and, and getting into the courts, et cetera, and all that kind of stuff. And meanwhile, the folks that were being targeted for better service, better broadband are, are waiting and waiting and waiting,
Christopher Mitchell (31:04):
Right? So for people who need more energy to organize, hopefully that'll help you. And we appreciate you tuning in listening. And thanks Sean and DeAnn for taking some time to, to do the recording. And we'll see you all and the near future.
We have transcripts for this and other podcasts available at muni networks.org/broadbandbits. Email firstname.lastname@example.org with your ideas for the show. Follow Chris on Twitter, his handles at communitynets follow muni networks.org. 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 email@example.com. 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.