CityLink Telecommunications in Albuquerque Prefers Open Access - Community Broadband Bits Podcast 208

A small telecommunications company in Albuquerque embodies much of the philosophy that has powered the Internet. And CityLink Telecommunications President John Brown credits Vint Cerf for some of that inspiration. John Brown joins us for episode 208 of the Community Broadband Bits podcast, where we talk not just about how enthusiastic he is for open access, but how he writes open access requirements into contracts to ensure CityLink would continue to operate on an open access basis even if he were struck down by an errant backhoe. We also discuss the Internet of Things and security before finishing with a discussion of how he thinks the city of Albuquerque should move forward with his firm to save money and improve Internet access across the community. We also touch on Santa Fe's decision to work with a different company in building their short spur to bypass a CenturyLink bottleneck.

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Thanks to Forget the Whale for the music, licensed using Creative Commons. The song is "I Know Where You've Been."


John Brown: We don't really even consider ourselves technically an Internet service provider. We are a broadband applications delivery company.

Lisa Gonzalez: Welcome to episode 208 of the Community Broadband Bits podcast, from the Institute for Local Self-Reliance. I'm Lisa Gonzalez. In this episode, Chris visits with John Brown, president of CityLink Telecommunications. Chris and John have a rich and detailed discussion that reveals the entrepreneur's roots, his philosophy behind public-private collaboration, and they even discuss the pros and cons of the Internet of Things. This conversation runs a little longer than our usual podcast. We want to satisfy those of you who've contacted us and asked for more detail on these kinds of issues. Learn more about the company, located in Albuquerque, at Now here are Chris and John Brown, president of CityLink Telecommunications.

Chris Mitchell: Welcome to another edition of the Community Broadband Bits podcast. I'm Chris Mitchell, and today I'm speaking with John Brown, the president of CityLink Telecommunications in Albuquerque. Welcome to the show.

John Brown: Thank you. Great to be here, Chris.

Chris Mitchell: I'm excited to have you on this show. I've known you for many years, as you've been building fiber networks, and certainly, I think, trying to build more than you've been able to, something we'll be getting into, but let's start off by just a brief description of what is CityLink? What separates it from other telecommunications companies?

John Brown: Certainly. CityLink Telecommunications is a locally owned company here in Albuquerque, that is the only provider of open access dark fiber and telecommunications-related services in the Albuquerque market. We are also one of the very first, or the first, should say, provider to bring full gigabit Internet fiber to the house, where we actually bring a fiber cable all the way up to the person's home, and deliver symmetrical, upload and download speeds being the same, gigabit service. Our first home was connected in 2008. We've been continuing to grow. We're a self-funded company, mostly funded out of cash flow, and profitable, and having a lot of fun.

Chris Mitchell: One of the things that I think of when I think of you is someone who's really dedicated to the future of the Internet. There's people who are getting in this business, who are starting ISPs, many of them more recently, I think, who are just trying to figure out how to become millionaires or billionaires. What is your background that makes you so passionate about some of the connectivity?

John Brown: If I go way, way back, almost like Mr. Peabody, I got on the Internet when I was in high school in the early mid-80s, and I was blessed by being able to do that through an account with the University of New Mexico. They were allowing us high school kids to get onto their big, huge, super mainframes, which was then connected to, effectively at that time what we called the DARPAnet, ARPAnet network. That was way, way cool. It's been sort of a love of mine ever since, being able to watch people communicate and interconnect across the globe, and see this thing grow. Then I had the opportunity to live in Silicon Valley for 10 years, and work with some of the companies that actually built the equipment that runs the infrastructure, and the possibilities are becoming more and more endless as broadband becomes more ubiquitously available throughout the world. I also was one of the folks that was around with ICANN early on, was the primary technical person that ran one of the 13 root DNS servers, the L-Root DNS server for ICANN, for about 3 or so years. That also really opened up my opportunities and eyes, to see what could happen with the Internet across the world. There were times where I had some fairly healthy debates with a very smart gentleman named Vint Cerf. We discussed things like peering, and open access policies, and various other things that a lot of that I've taken to heart in what we do with CityLink today.

Chris Mitchell: When you mention open access, that's actually something I really wanted to get into, because as a private ISP doing open access, you're in kind of elite company. I was thinking that you might be able to fit all of the privately owned open access networks into a taxi, all of the owners of those networks. Tell me a little bit about how open access works on your network.

John Brown: We look at the network at a couple of different levels, in many cases almost mirroring the ubiquitous OSI 7-layer stack model of how the network works. At one level we have the physical infrastructure planned, the dark fiber out there. We make our dark fiber available to anybody. The traditional carriers and many of our competitors today, to get access to even that dark fiber is either an extremely expensive proposition, or is just not available, unless you happen to be a CLEC, competitive local exchange carrier, then you may have access to some strands of dark fiber, if the incumbent carrier wishes and allows you to do it, or you are able to sort of threaten them, legally, enough to get it done. When we were building this company we said we wanted to be able to allow enterprise, small business, large business, we didn't care. We wanted to be able to allow them direct access to dark fiber, because it gives them better control over their business, and gives them better control over their destiny, and costs, and all those various bits and pieces, that ultimately, I hope, keeps that business doing business in our city, or in our community. Therein you move up the level, you get out of the dark fiber, we also provide open access Ethernet connectivity. We'll sell an Ethernet pipe to anybody at effectively the same price point. We don't play games with the prices, depending on if you're a big company or a little company. Above that, we sell Internet access, both at a wholesale basis to other ISPs, and at a retail basis to end-users. If you look at our franchise agreement with the city, when we were negotiating that with the city, some of the terms that we put out to the city that we wanted to have, in our legal agreement with the city, was that it is the normal and ordinary course of business that CityLink will provide open access dark fiber on a neutral and competitive priced basis. Those were very key and important words to us, because neutral, competitive, non-discriminatory basis, meaning that we would not sell to customer A fiber at $100 a month, then the other guy, the same exact length of distance, or whatever, of fiber, for $10 a month. We're going to be on parity with everyone gets the same equal treatment, same equal price.

Chris Mitchell: One of the things that I really liked about that was that it's in the franchise, so if for some reason you decided to sell your business, or others took it over in some way, then that would still apply to the future of that network.

John Brown: Exactly correct. That's actually one of the things that, believe it or not, I learned out of my relationships with ICANN, was this whole concept of the concern about capture of an entity. One of my concerns was, "Hey, we could go build and have me as the business owner and leader pushing these open access policies, but let's say down the road, either I got hit by a bus," well in this case, "I got hit by a backhoe," because that's what would kill the fiber, or I decided to sell the business, or let's say bad economic times fell upon us, and we had to liquidate out for some reason. In any of those situations, the what I believed to be fundamental open access terms and conditions were encapsulated in the legal agreement with the city, who owns the right of way, so no matter what happened to our organization, whether we sold it, or we fell upon bad times, or whatever, those terms and conditions would still have to survive to the next entity.

Chris Mitchell: Let's talk a little bit about who your customers are. You said you have some residential customers, and I'm sure you have some business customers. You just kind of build out to anyone who's interested, or is there a rhyme or a reason to how you are expanding?

John Brown: We have residential, commercial end-user, retail type customers, and we have municipal customers, and we have carriers. We actually provide dark fiber to other well-known carriers that were I to rattle their names off, everybody would be like, "Oh. Yeah, I know who they are." We're the Internet service provider to the city of Albuquerque. We just won a competitive bid to do, effectively, another 5 year gigabit service for the city.

Chris Mitchell: Excellent. Congratulations.

John Brown: Thank you very much. It's much more my team than it is just me. Our fiber to the home, we've done everything. We've done active Ethernet. We've done GPON, and now we're back to active Ethernet. We've played a lot with a lot of different technologies, but one of the core things about all of our bandwidth delivery is we always want to strive to hit the number that the customer is buying. If they are buying a 50 megabit service, we want to show 50 megs up and 50 megs down or better.

Chris Mitchell: Absolutely, yeah. It's one of those things that customers don't want to hear, "Oh, there's overhead, or there's this or that." They want to know that they're getting what they're paying for.

John Brown: Right, and part of the overhead that a lot of the other carriers have is overhead generated by PPPoE, which is what they're using from the old dial-up and DSL days for user authentication. That takes up about 15% of the available bandwidth sometimes.

Chris Mitchell: I'm not surprised to hear that. That's just one of the problems of having these legacy systems, for which they're always looking for the cheapest way to increase their value a little bit, without actually looking at the best engineering solution.

John Brown: Yes. How can we integrate it into the back office that we already have, that we already know and love, and we don't have to change anything? We provide service from 10 meg all the way up to 10 gig, and we'll even provide 10 gig to a house. Our business is to provide a pipe. We don't really even consider ourselves technically an Internet service provider. We are a broadband applications delivery company.

Chris Mitchell: I think you just blew some people's minds, but it's a great distinction. Let's be very clear about that. An ISP would be someone who's delivering a service, which is connecting you to the Internet, and maybe some DNS, some mail, some other things like that, but you're separating yourself out from that, right?

John Brown: To us, the Internet is an application. Our job is to provide the best pipe, the best IP transport pipe that we can to our customer. We look at things like Netflix. Netflix is an application. The Internet itself, web surfing, is an application. Telephony, or voice, in an application. These are all different kinds of applications that are using this ubiquitous IPv4 or IPv6 transport network that we've built globally. We don't know what our customers want to do with this pipe, but we do know is that they want to be able to get to lots of different things, so we need to build a pipe that gets them the ability to get to lots of different things without any issues.

Chris Mitchell: Right, and that's where I think there's some carriers, and they would call themselves ISPs, certainly, who are looking to try to figure out how to nudge people, and take a little bit off the top. If someone's going to go to Netflix, they want a piece of the action, but what you're saying is you're not interested in that. You just want to enable the end-user to do whatever they want to do.

John Brown: Right. Netflix knows how to run their business, Hulu knows how to run their business, all the video over the top guys, and in fact all the application guys and gals, they know how to run their business. Our job is to connect our customer to that application or that set of applications, and enable their access to that in a reliable and affordable method.

Chris Mitchell: Sometimes, I think, they don't always understand exactly what they're doing. You and I recently had a little exchange on the 1st-Mile Institute LISTSERV, where we were talking about IoT, often called the Internet of Things, which I always joke is the insecurity of things. Do you remember that anecdote? What, specifically, was happening, that the customer wanted sort of an unshielded connection, or a device that would not be protected in any way?

John Brown: We were recently working with a fairly old building, 1960s, 1970s, building that they wanted to upgrade and put in a energy management system to make the building a smart building, so they could control their HVAC and cooling, their electrical, their lights, all those various things, and have a much better control over where are they spending their money on energy consumption, and where could they maybe improve it, or possibly make sure they could bill their tenants tighter for. They were putting in this equipment. It had Ethernet connections, and, "Hey that's pretty cool. We can plug it into the Internet and off we go." They came to us and asked us for an Internet connection, and I was perfectly happy to give them a connection, but I wanted them to explain to me what they were doing for protecting this infrastructure from the wild, wild west known as the Internet.

Chris Mitchell: Also known as [no-glossary]Rus[/no-glossary]sia.

John Brown: Or China, or--

Chris Mitchell: Script kiddies are everywhere. I just like to pick on Russia.

John Brown: Your backyard guy just down the street, or even an unhappy employee that just recently got terminated. There's a whole bunch of things that could cause potential threats or risk areas. The answer that I originally got was that they really didn't need to do any firewalling, we didn't have to worry about that, because it wasn't like they were plugging in a Windows server, or an Internet server, they were plugging in this controller that was going to control the building. I said, "Well that's great. That's probably an embedded systems type controller. It has a little processor in it and all of that. We still need to really think about the security surface area, threat surface area here." Long and short is that we had some dialogue back and forth, and at one point I wasn't really willing to provide them a connection, because I was too worried that they were going to get hacked, and somehow we would end up getting to deal with that. I didn't want to go down that road. We looked at the systems. We asked them what vendor equipment it was. Within a short period of time I was able to come back and show them, with that equipment, various known hacks that were on the Internet, that would impact that equipment. We really had to work with them to help them understand that if you're going to plug it into the Internet, you need to take full security, full threat analysis, and take all of that seriously, because systems like this can materially impact a building, and cause all kinds of problems and economic harm, that maybe a energy management or lighting control company doesn't necessarily think about. It's just, "Plug it in and it's magical, because it's hooked up to the cloud!"

Chris Mitchell: Right. The thing that I just find somewhat depressing is that this whole Internet of Things, all these devices are being made, none of the, I'm going to be perhaps a little bit broad, but I'm not embellishing by too much if I say that not a single one of these devices has been built with security in mind. Many of them are not flashable to be updated, so effectively every device that you're putting on your network, right now, that's sort of part of this IoT hype is a Trojan horse for someone to eventually take it over if they would like to. I find that very scary, and I just wanted to make sure that people are kind of aware of the treats, currently, and the need to embrace a better threat model for how we're treating our devices.

John Brown: One of the things I've said to folks recently has been, for those of us that are parents, we teach our kids the concept, "Stranger danger." You don't want your 5 year old walking up to somebody he or she doesn't know, and they need to be cautious of someone they don't know that might approach them. We teach a lot of stuff about physical security, we teach things about keeping our money safe in our pockets, and having physical awareness, but what we're not doing right now is we're not teaching, and bringing to the level of awareness, our cyber security stance. We're not teaching people to be truly suspicious of that email that just came in, that looks like it came from their CEO, and gosh darn he really needs you to wire $18,000 right now, and it's just the little things that you can see in those emails, the halfway trained eye sees and goes, "Oh, wait a minute. That's a bogus email. They're trying to scam me."

Chris Mitchell: Right. I want to make sure we have some time to talk about what's going on in Albuquerque. I'm glad to hear that you are working with the city. I know that at one point you were struggling just to get a franchise. I'm curious what your ideal model is, in terms of how you would like to work with Albuquerque, to basically everyone's benefit from your point of view?

John Brown: I think that whether it's Albuquerque, or almost any other community across the country, I think we're at an evolutionary point where we need to better embrace solid public-private partnerships. I believe that municipalities have very valuable things they can bring to the table to improve broadband and access, so that we have Internet access ubiquitously across our city. The city has a lot of things that they can bring to the table to do that. I think that private sector needs to start really looking at finding ways to work with the city, and bring things to the table themselves, that also looks to make the community better. One of the things I have concerns about is that a lot of businesses are looking at their return on investment and their economics in a very short-term window basis. "How much money can I quickly grab, now." I think that when you're in the fiber business, and when you're in the infrastructure business, you're not really looking at a 1 year or a 3 year return on investment. You're a utility. You're going to be there 10 years, 20 years from now, providing services. You should have the ability, or you should look at this return over a longer period of time, and look at the larger picture of stuff.

Chris Mitchell: What does that look like, then? I'll tell you that when I hear the term public-private partnership, I immediately think of a couple of things. There's some great models out there, but there's also a lot of people who just throw that term around willy nilly to mean anything.

John Brown: For example, for us, one of the great things in projects that we have done, is we'll be building fiber over to, let's say, one of the TV stations, like we just recently did, to get them connected. We were basically a middle-mile provider for another carrier. While we were building that fiber, we architected that route so that it would go by one of the city's main fire stations, then we were able to bring dark fiber into that fire station, to help augment and provide additional connectivity to that fire station. We did not charge the city for that construction. That cost us roughly $18,000 to hook up that fire station in just the direct lateral costs to do that. In exchange, we didn't have any permit fees, and we didn't have any permit hassles, so we saved on time to market. We were able to save multiple weeks on getting to our commercial customer, because we were able to get rid of that potential burden that the city had control over.

Chris Mitchell: Right. It's interesting, because I think it is that timing issue, and the uncertainty, that is a much bigger killer than the fees themselves, often.

John Brown: Right. The fees are not necessarily the big thing. The issue is how long is it going to take to process your permit application? Thankfully, Albuquerque, on general, is pretty quick about getting permits in and out the door, but sometimes you run into roadblocks where you just have too many people asking for permits that week, and they get backlogged.

Chris Mitchell: We had done a show a number of months ago, it could have been last year, about Santa Fe, and the investment that they made in the carrier-neutral facility. What is your reaction to that?

John Brown: Santa Fe came out with a really novel idea, to build a fiber network to try to reduce the cost of broadband access in their community.

Chris Mitchell: I think, if I understood it correctly, just for people that are listening and may not have heard that show, I think they specifically built a fiber link to bypass a CenturyLink choke point. Is that a fair representation?

John Brown: That's what they thought they were doing.

Chris Mitchell: Okay.

John Brown: The devil is always in the details. What the city of Santa Fe wanted to do was they wanted to get from a particular location that connected to long-haul fiber, and they wanted to be able to get that into a building that they could control, or have more or less open access with, and also be able to cross-connect into the central office. The thought process was that by doing so they were going to be able to reduce their cost of getting access to things like DSL and other services. I think the challenge is that they didn't understand completely the regulatory regime that CenturyLink, the incumbent carrier, operates under, thus the access to that infrastructure, whether the city built it or not, still had to fall under the tariffs and the regulatory regime, so those charges were still going to be there. The disappointing thing for us on that project, was that we had bid on it, and the city ultimately awarded that to a carrier that had never put fiber in the ground at all. They spent a million dollars to build a mile and a half, I think. Maybe it was 2 miles worth of fiber. We had proposed a 7 mile project on the same dollar amount. The concern is that sometimes you get municipal folks that have a good idea, but they're actually not subject matter experts, so they try to build something and it doesn't necessarily truly solve the problem. I like to analogize it to what happened in Indiana back in the 70s, where they actually tried to legislate the value of pie. "Hey, let's make it 3. It doesn't need to be 3.141, let's just make it 3. It's easier to do the math that way." Right. I don't think I want my arches, and my geometry done with 3. I like 3.141.

Chris Mitchell: You don't want to cross that bridge.

John Brown: No. Pun intended.

Chris Mitchell: Right.

John Brown: I think that the model we have in Albuquerque is a model that is cookie-cutter-able. We have a proposal that we've put before the city over the last few years, where we would take 2 and a half million dollars a year of their recurring telecom expense hooking up 160, 170 buildings. We would take that recurring expense and erase it forever off of their balance sheet, by putting in dark fiber to all these buildings.

Chris Mitchell: Are those buildings that they are leasing physical circuits from someone currently, and that's the cost you would get rid of?

John Brown: Correct. They're currently leasing metro Ethernet from various others to get to those buildings.

Chris Mitchell: Sure. Very common.

John Brown: When they want faster connection to fire station 5, they get to pay more, whereas with the dark fiber, all they have to do is change out their own routers and equipment that they already are putting in, anyway, and they can go from 1 gig, to 10 gig, to 40 gig, to 100 gig, and the fiber stays the same.

Chris Mitchell: Right. Not just that, but actually, in talking with some of the people that have made that switch, for instance, in school districts, there's a variety of other benefits. You actually need fewer personnel, often, when you have full control of the network, because you have a better sense. You have more visibility into all the points where something can go wrong. You're not waiting on hold with that person you're leasing it from while they run their system checks.

John Brown: Correct. The dark fiber provider has a simple job, does photons going in at point A come out at point B, and that the photons coming out at point B, the light coming out at point B is of the acceptable power levels, then the dark fiber provider's job is done.

Chris Mitchell: Right. Those were also longer term contracts, too, so you don't have to worry that in 2 years your metro E connection's going to go up 50% or something like that. It gives you, as a public institution, having that long-term dark fiber contract, tremendous benefits.

John Brown: The way we're pricing this, our deal to the city is really 3-fold. One is we're going to provide 24 strands of dark fiber exclusively for the city's internal use. The second part is that we would put a separate set of 12 strands for all pre-K through 12th grade accredited public or private educational facilities. Now, whether it's a public school or a private school, as long as you're an accredited school, we'll bring you dark fiber, and you guys in the education world can figure out how to best use that, and inter-connect to make education better around here. I know that for Albuquerque public schools, a number that was given to me a few years ago is that they spend almost a million and a half a year on their infrastructure telecom costs, hooking their schools up with metro E. We would save the public schools at least a million and a half a year off of their budget. The third was, as we were really rolling on this, is if we're going to make our community better, I know that one of the hospitals here spends over $300,000 a month, so what's that 3.6 million a year, just connecting their major medical facilities together for telecom. We have 3 or 4 different major healthcare providers in the market. We were going to put another set of 12 strands just for healthcare. We're not hooking up to the little sole proprietor doctors office or dentist's office. We're hooking up major medical facilities so that that MRI, that CAT scan, that x-ray, whatever, that imagery, can be at a blink of an eye, sent 40 miles across town, to wherever that radiologist is, to quickly look at a picture and go, "Nope, that spleen is about to bust. You need to roll that person into a surgery now." Hopefully we increase quality of care, and increase our rate of survival on emergency situations. The fourth thing that we were going to do is that we were going to put free Wi-Fi at every city park. All of these 4 items, we're going to do, and all that we're looking to recoup is our out of pocket construction costs. Once we recoup that infrastructure cost, that construction cost, then the city, the schools, the healthcare, and the free Wi-Fi, they don't have another check to write, every again, forever and ever.

Chris Mitchell: That model works for you, because that enables you to build a lot of that middle mile infrastructure that you're going to need to connect residents, and businesses, and that sort of thing, right?

John Brown: I'm going to make my money off the private sector. I don't need to make my money off the governmental sector.

Chris Mitchell: You're giving them the strands. It's not like you're just temporarily leasing them to them or something.

John Brown: They will effectively get an IRU, or indefeasible right of use of those strands in perpetuity.

Chris Mitchell: Right. It's not something that's odd. That's a very well-known legal concept.

John Brown: There's plenty of case law around the fact that says when you legally write that down and we all sign on it, that that's very well-defined, so it's nothing unique or special-weird out there at all.

Chris Mitchell: That's your proposal, and the city is considering it, hasn't really acted on it at this point.

John Brown: A few years ago, the city said, "Well, how much would that cost?" We said, "We figure it'll cost about 10 million bucks to build out 100 plus miles here in the metro area." The city said, "Well, we don't really have 10 million that we can pull out of our budget today, so if you can fund this and finance this up front, we can pay you back over time," and sort of my response is, "Well, I wasn't really looking at being a bank."

Chris Mitchell: Right. I have some sympathy for the people that you're dealing with, because in the government world, there's a holy line between capital expenditures and operating expenditures, and there's a lot of inefficiency because of that line, unfortunately.

John Brown: Oh, yeah. We went away and we thought about it. I don't take no as an answer, usually. I was able to meet a gentleman at an event in Washington, D.C., of all places, at a Freedom to Connect event, I'm sure you know.

Chris Mitchell: Oh, yeah. I'm thrilled to hear that, because I thought those Freedom to Connect events were terrific.

John Brown: I was able to meet a gentleman there who had recently done a public-private partnership on a fiber project in his community. We got to know each other pretty well, and I was explaining to him this project, and he came back and said that he was willing to put the $10 million up at a 6% interest rate.

Chris Mitchell: Nice.

John Brown: 5 year period of time. I went back to the city and said, "Hey, I got the money, so let's move," and I think the city was a little surprised that I was able to do that. Ultimately, this gentleman and us met with the city, and everybody thought it was a really great idea, and this particular gentleman is financially well and easily capable of doing this project, and the city was able to vet him and determine, themselves, that this was an easy financial thing for him to do, should he decide to do it. That was approximately 2 years ago, and we still don't have yes, no, or indifferent from the city. What the city has recently done is that they want to build fiber down Route 66, and at a semi-public meeting a week or so ago, the city came out and said that they've estimated what their cost is to build an open access fiber, but they haven't been able to define what open access really means, down Route 66, and they can do it for about a quarter of a million dollars per mile. I asked the question, "What do you get for a quarter of a million dollars for a mile, because just recently I put a mile of fiber in the ground in downtown central business district of Albuquerque, which is one of the harder places to do construction, all underground, for less than 100."

Chris Mitchell: Right, yeah.

John Brown: They couldn't answer that question. I see municipalities, they're trying to figure out ways to make their town, their city, better, to attract new economic development, new businesses, and to attract keeping businesses there, and to make their place a better place to be. I see a lot of the effort is almost a flailing of they're not truly sure about how to go about doing this, so they're just throwing things out, and hoping something will stick, and it will sound good.

Chris Mitchell: Yeah. I certainly thing it's a challenge to figure out who's legitimate in this business and who isn't. Who do you listen to? Who do you work with? That sort of thing. It's hard for cities, and to some extent I like to think that that's one of the roles that we try to help play, is helping people to understand that.

John Brown: Right. There are a lot of really good consultants and advisors out there, then there's a lot of other advisors and consultants out there that have never had to eat their dog food.

Chris Mitchell: I'll just go one further and say that over the next year, there's going to be more and more of those ones.

John Brown: Right. That's one of the things we tried to help with like the city of Santa Fe to understand is we've been building fiber for 10 years. We've actually hooked up home customers. We've tried lots of different technologies, and we've got real life experience on the pluses and minuses, not only short-term, but long-term, and how operator friendly are they? How friendly are they, 3 years later, to come back and work on? That's a lot of the value that we've built internally over 10 years, is we can talk a lot about pluses and minuses of a lot of different wonderful technologies that have come out.

Chris Mitchell: Let me just say thank you so much for joining us on the show.

John Brown: I appreciate it very much.

Lisa Gonzalez: That was Chris and the president of CityLink Telecommunications, John Brown. You can access the transcript for this and other Community Broadband Bits podcasts at Email us at with your ideas for the show. Follow Chris on Twitter. His handle is @CommunityNets. Follow stories on Twitter, where their handle is @MuniNetworks. Thank you to the group Forget the Whale, for their song "I Know Where You've Been," licensed through Creative Commons. Thank you for listening to episode 208 of the Community Broadband Bits podcast.