Developments in Iowa and a Fresh New Look for - Episode 541 of the Community Broadband Bits Podcast

This week on the show, Christopher, Sean, and Ry sit down to catch up on a handful of community broadband projects in Baltimore and Iowa. Waterloo had a recent vote to embark on a citywide fiber network, and it's garnering some attention from national providers. Equally exciting is that West Des Moines has taken great strides in the construction of its citywide conduit network, with plans to be done by the end of the year. Christopher, Sean, and Ry end the show by talking about the new, and putting a fresh coat of paint on the digital home of the Community Broadband Networks initiative. 

This show is 36 minutes long and can be played on this page or via Apple Podcasts or the tool of your choice using this feed

Transcript below. 

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

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

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


Christopher Mitchell (00:07):
Welcome to another episode of the Community Broadband Bits podcasts. I'm Christopher Mitchell at the Institute for a local self-reliance buried under more than 12 inches of snow, but it's not so bad cuz Rys got it a lot worse. <Laugh>,

Ry Marcattilio (00:24):
You know, it's Minnesota in February, so I guess this is what we should expect when we live here.

Christopher Mitchell (00:29):
<Laugh>. Indeed. So we're gonna do a show here with Ry Marko McCracken, our our crack investigator <laugh>, all of a sudden, like, I'm just feeling self-conscious about calling you a Craig investigator. I don't know.

Sean Gonsalves (00:41):
<Laugh> <laugh>. Yeah. Yeah.

Christopher Mitchell (00:44):
We also have Sean go solves welcome, Sean,

Sean Gonsalves (00:48):
I am in the house. Thank you for having me.

Christopher Mitchell (00:50):
Yeah. We're gonna talk about a story that you did right off the bat. Sean does wrote a lot of reporting, writing, editing, and communications workforce. And we are going to start by talking about Project Waves, a cool project in Baltimore to connect low income apartment buildings. Then we're gonna talk about West Des Moines and their conduit model quickly, and then we're gonna end with what I assure you will be the most interesting discussion about a website redesign that you've heard in a while. Really we're gonna talk about kind of some of the stuff we have cooking and where things are going and, and less about how this nearly drove Ry and Sean to leave the best jobs they've ever had. <Laugh> No, you don't have to comment on that. I'm just gonna, that's my, that's how I'm gonna imagine this worked out. And let's start with project Waves. Sean I feel like this is something that we knew was coming after we had a great visit with them. Was it now three, four weeks ago

Sean Gonsalves (01:54):
In the last few weeks, and it was a great visit. Well, project Waves is a nonprofit organization that was founded in 2018 looking at the massive digital divide that exists in the city of Baltimore. Something on the order of 96,000 of the 237,000 or so residents of the city.

Christopher Mitchell (02:13):
Right. So like one outta three, one outta four people.

Sean Gonsalves (02:16):
Yeah. Do not have a home internet subscription. And that's obviously a big problem, especially for people who care about those things in the city. And so when we went to Baltimore, we got to meet with the folks that run project Waves and as well as the Digital Harbor Foundation, who was one of their main sponsors in getting that project Waves off the ground in 2018. So we were at the the rec center that they converted into a tech center, the Digital Harbor Foundation did. And then we went over to Holland's House, which is one of the five apartment buildings that Project Waves is serving by essentially running fiber to the premise, to the building, or to the, to the various buildings that they do serve. And then repurposing the coaxial cable that's in those buildings to deliver gig speed internet service for free for about a thousand households in the city.

So it's fascinating and the, the profile that I put together is a little different than some of the stories that we write. It was it, it we're calling it like local community broadband champions. And so, whereas we focus a lot on the technology and the construction and financing of Community Network builds, this particular piece focuses more on really the personalities of the people who make it happen. This one, of course, being in Baltimore. So we focused on Devin Weaver, who is an amazing, bright, warm 28 year old network engineer. A a a a native of the city of Baltimore who grew up there and, you know, went to work in the IT field, worked for Expedient for a number of years running Right.

Christopher Mitchell (03:59):
He left Baltimore to do that work, right?

Sean Gonsalves (04:01):
He did. And over that time, not only did he learn a lot, but he also got a chance to travel around the country and see a lot of the internet infrastructure that exists and started to really be troubled by the fact that why isn't this stuff in my city? And you know, through a series of, of sort of incremental decisions that he made in terms of, you know, wanting to build an internet exchange in Baltimore, but that kind of fizzled out. But a high school made of his that actually was the one who founded Project Waves and they had kept in touch over the years and shares common interest, said, you know, you should come work with us. And which Devin ended up doing, and now he is the director of engineering there, and he is the one who really, or as the director of Project Wave, Samantha Musgrave says he's the meat and potatoes of what they do.

Christopher Mitchell (04:50):
So you and I were in town for the I L S R retreat and and the, the whole team was, but the way the flights worked out, you, Emma, and I were able to go meet with them in person, grab a lunch, learn a lot more about Digital Harbor Foundation, the great work that they're doing, the really interesting backstory there that I think will probably be a future story. You know, and then got this cool tour to see how it actually works. And and I thought it was just, it was a really interesting story and I think a reminder of, of how important it is for communities to step up, right? Yes. I feel like one of the reasons that we see communities not step up and do this is they think, eh, it might be hard and we might not succeed. And I think, you know, from our conversation with Samantha and Devon and Andrew as well who, who runs the Digital Harbor Foundation I would say that they probably would say that their wireless efforts to solve this problem did not succeed they way they wanted them to. And what did they do? They adjusted, right? They,

Sean Gonsalves (05:52):
They, and that's what I love about the story is that you're, you're exactly right. I mean, the, the, the wireless, they stood up, you know, they were pretty candid in saying that it wasn't really meeting the real needs that folks had. There were different, you know, issues that they had in terms of you know, reliability and, and, and what have you. And, and, but they, that didn't make 'em say, well, forget it. This is a waste of time and effort. They, they adjusted, like you said, and, and figured out a way to repurpose the wiring that already exists in these buildings. You know, one of the things that's amazing too is it it wasn't something that they thought was too hard to do. They also didn't, you know, they weren't scared away by some of the, you know, the financing. I mean, of course they get, you know, a hundred percent philanthropic contributions run the organization, but once they built the actual infrastructure and got the fiber to the building, their actual operating expenses, their average cost per month per user is 16 bucks. Yeah. And I just think it's fascinating to know that, you know, it's like once they built the infrastructure, and this is with built-in customer support, and and so there's ...

Christopher Mitchell (06:56):
Lots of, that's probably most of the cost.

Sean Gonsalves (06:58):
Yeah. And, and there's lots of folks now there that are now getting internet for the first time, and it's just heartwarming really to hear about the difference that it's making in folks lives

Christopher Mitchell (07:09):
Right now you said it was free and I, I always, I hate that word <laugh>, it's like the word access in that like, you know, yes. You never really know quite what it means but it is, there is no charge to the resident, but there are different ways in which someone ends up paying for that one way or another. Yes.

Sean Gonsalves (07:28):
Yes. And in fact you know, one of the things that you know, Samantha talks about is how she thinks that this is, you know, that there's a lot that other cities could learn from in terms of working with housing authorities and going into what she calls kind of the low-hanging fruit of going into affordable housing buildings, repurposing the existing wire, and, and, and delivering the kind of connectivity at lower no cost for a number of the residents. But also she talked about the importance of city officials and housing officials being really proactive in terms of providing things like the documentation of, of folks that are living in their affordable housing buildings to qualify for the Affordable Connectivity program, and then tap into those funds, which of course would, would obviously help, you know, sustain those networks, you know, moving forward. Right.

Christopher Mitchell (08:18):
This, I would, I would pull this into something that we had done a few weeks ago. The Building for Digital Equity event that we did with Kim McKinley co-hosting UTOPIA Fiber sponsoring something that I don't know if ever got written up, Sean. Something that, you know, may might be a good story to get on our page and get some folks to view the the live stream after it happened. We've got that archived. Our two events from last year, both have, have been viewed one of them 2000 times, one of them 3000 times. So people are enjoying those events. And any rate, Shayna England made a great point talking about the LA Digital Equity Coalition, and it's something that I know people want to know more about, because she really peaked people's interests, and she made the point, this is a, this is an issue of, of power and politics.

Mm-Hmm. <affirmative>, it is not an issue of technology. And I would just come back to what Samantha said, what Devin has demonstrated, which is that if we want to connect people living in public housing, particularly in apartment buildings, the technology is there, right? The money is there. What we need is creativity and people to get off their butts and do it. And, and I would, I would lay some of the blame with the public housing officials who I think haven't understood the opportunities that are out there now. They have so much that they have to deal with. I sort of understand that they've been underfunded and whatnot, but frankly, if we have elected leaders that wanna solve this problem, there is nothing to stop us from solving it In most places when we're talking about apartment buildings.

Sean Gonsalves (09:43):
And, you know, you make a good point. I mean, you know, these, these, these officials are, are dealing with a lot, but certainly as it relates to the a c P, it would be a lot more efficient, and I'm sure easier for them to deal with, you know, getting lots more folks enrolled than, than than individuals who you know, have no real experience in this area. And, and, and there's all kinds of hoops that that you have to jump through. And one of those is, is essentially proving that you're eligible for the benefit. And, you know, housing officials can go a long way in helping that happen.

Christopher Mitchell (10:15):
That's right. And the FCC should really make this easier. I mean, one of the things that I've seen, and I think we'll talk about and net inclusion, which is where we will be when this show airs. I think people will be talking about how ACP as a program seem to design to discourage people from getting involved in it because of how hard it is to sign up and, and how unnecessarily hard it is to sign up. We should have, you know, the, one of the things that they told us, you didn't put this in that article, and by the way, people should be checking out this article as soon as you're done listening to this podcast. It's that community Or you could go to muni, our old name for our site, they all end, you all roads lead to Rome.

There's a lot of different places you can go to end We'll talk about that at the end of the show. People should go there. It's on the front page. It'll be up there for a bit. But, but Samantha noted that there is not a single person they can offer service to who is not eligible for acp. Right? Every address that they serve, every single person who lives in those buildings is qualified, but they have to go through hours of work per resident to get them signed up. And that is a total failure. And this is why people hate government, right? <Laugh>, like, here we have a government program that is so important, people should love it, and instead people have a bad taste in their mouth because of how it's implemented. We should not be standing for this.

Sean Gonsalves (11:36):
Well said. Yep.

Christopher Mitchell (11:38):
So with that Ray, is there anything that you wanna poke before we we go on to something that, that you have a little bit more experience with?

Ry Marcattilio (11:45):
The only thing I'll mention is related to the ACP, either shortly thereafter, or by the time this episode airs, our revamped version two of our ACP dashboard should be live everything from when we think the money is gonna run out to a better look at all the, all that, all the different households that are eligible by different methods and means. And, and we're looking at, you know, for anybody not familiar, tens of millions of house households, more than more than 50 million households eligible for this benefit, of which less than a third, it seems like are taking advantage.

Sean Gonsalves (12:18):
Remind me remind us again what the new elements that are gonna be added to the dashboard.

Ry Marcattilio (12:22):
Yes. This, so

Christopher Mitchell (12:23):
ACP, just to be clear for people that wanna remind themselves. And, and I just wanna say, I really appreciate Christine doing the, the hard work to get the new data, some of the new features up. I know that it's been, it's been hard work. So don't, don't, when you see how cool it is definitely, you know, say a little prayer for for Christine in your head,

Ry Marcattilio (12:44):
<Laugh> and Emma too. She's doing all the Yes. Lots of the implementation work. So so yes, the, the version two will have some more nuanced to data that it's pulling from and should be what we think is the most accurate snapshot of all the households who are eligible through the however many, half a dozen or slightly more different ways that households can qualify as well as all the households that are taking advantage. And then the other big addition to this version two is an amount spent and eligible households enrolled by Congressional district across the United States. And so folks will be able to go to their congressional district, click on it and see not only how many households are eligible, but how many are enrolled, and how much money has been spent in that congressional district since the start of the program.

Christopher Mitchell (13:29):
And what people should do is they should go click on that and then send that information to their representative and say, Hey, we should really need to make sure this doesn't run out of money next year in 2024. Look at the benefits this is bringing to your district. Let's make sure that this is continued you know, to make sure that people are still well served. We have reservations about how wise it is to rely on this program alone, but this program is necessary while we sort out better investments to solve the various challenges we face.

Ry Marcattilio (14:01):
Well said.

Sean Gonsalves (14:01):
Yeah, no doubt. Although, you know, certainly, you know, one of the, one of the strong arguments I think for, for maintain, I mean, of course it is a coupon, so to speak, or a, a bandaid to a long-term problem, but there will probably always be a segment of the population that will need some form of subsidy to pay for internet service, even when it, even when you know, the prices are relatively affordable.

Christopher Mitchell (14:23):
Yes, I think that's right. As long as we are relying on markets to deliver this essential infrastructure. And I, and I think that I'm, I'm very enthusiastic about models in which a city might be able to build an open access network that serves large swaths of the population, allows for competition, and delivers some level of free service for qualifying households. I think the economics are all there, that, that could all work out quite well. But we have some work to do before we see that enacted, I think. Yeah. So speaking of which, let's talk about citywide investments into into open infrastructure. We wanted to update people on West Des Moines, which is city we've talked about before entered into a partnership with Google Fiber, where the city builds a conduit system that touches every resident. One of the things that Google Fiber has insisted upon in their contract dealings with public-private partnerships is that no one is left out.

Everyone is served. And so Google Fiber then commits to 20 years of revenues that pay for a substantial part of that system. The city can then use it to attract other other ISPs as well as to do smart city applications and things like that. It's a really good deal. Frankly, Google Fiber would be interested in doing that in more places. Everything that I've heard suggests that, but a lot of cities don't have the vision that West Des Moines has, and I think too many cities still think that they can get something for nothing. And, you know, they might actually get a Google Fiber investment, but at that point, Google Fiber's gonna approach it like a more of a traditional I S P because it's only with that public buy-in that you can really make sure there's universal access. So Sean, what, what, what do you, what's something that you love about west Des Moines? To

Sean Gonsalves (16:16):
Me, it, the reason why I like the story so much is because they focused on the, you know, building this open access conduit, which kind of highlights, I think, and separates out the, the, the infrastructure from the, the, the provision of services. And so, you know, in some communities, folks get a little leery of, you know, you know, what they would consider to be government run networks or, you know, municipalities being involved in being, you know, internet service providers. Although there's plenty of success stories where that, where that works well. But in this case, they said, look, let's build the infrastructure. And, and they've done it in such a way, by the way, without using grant funds, but bond they bonded for this, and it's gonna bring the city revenue in time. And as it invites private ISPs to access that conduit, it, you know, creates the kind of market conditions that drive down costs for end users. So, so I, I like this as an example of a city focusing on what they do well in many instances, which is build the actual, you know, necessary infrastructure and then create the conditions for, you know, ISPs including lowering the the barrier of entry for smaller and local ISPs to, to come in and, and compete on price in service.

Ry Marcattilio (17:30):
Yeah, it's a super fascinating story. Again, you'd find So we originally wrote about this decision that they made in a story in July, 2020, and they've made a lot of progress over the, the last two, I guess it'll be two and a half years looks like they are. So this is a, a roughly 60 million project. It looks like they are done with about seven of their nine phase areas or whatever you want to call it. Might be 40 or 50% of the city by geography, it looks like. Work so far has been centered in the northern half of the city. And but they've got a goal to complete the whole thing by the end of 2023. And so you know, they set a goal in 2016 that everybody, that, that 80% of the city would have access to gigabit speeds by 2026. If they get done with this by the end of 2023, they're gonna be well ahead of schedule. And, you know, not only is Google fiber buying into the network, but they've also got a local provider that they've that is, is looking to sign on to expand service and bring more competition to the area. And, and then, you know, wouldn't you know it, but mediacom has also agreed after a little while that they're begrudgingly going to participate in the network.

Christopher Mitchell (18:45):
Yeah, I think Mediacom might say that more than 80% of the city has access to a gigabit from mediacom already. I don't know if they would say that, I don't know exactly where the, where the footprint is. I would guess they might. Mediacom had sued to block this deal saying that the way it was structured in terms of, you know, I would say a non-traditional approach. I'm not an expert in municipal finance as much as I like to pretend here and there that I am. And they, I believe they did a single tax increment financing district in order to to, to borrow against which is something that mediacom thought would be perhaps vulnerable to a court challenge. And that did not happen. And then mediacom decided to come in and compete. And I'm very curious to see what happens.

I would say that mediacom does not have a great reputation throughout Iowa as a reliable provider, while we hear a lot of complaints, but their services might be much higher quality in West Des Moines now because of this network. So I'm very curious to see what happens there. And for people who like more information we did do a community Broadband Bits podcast interview with them back episode 4 26 in September of 2020. One of the things that we'll talk about in, in our last teases, perhaps for the next segment is that we're the Community Broadband Bits podcast feed has, has had a couple of changes, and you should be able to find that old episode there. But if you can't, right away, we're still working out a few glitches and all of the old episodes of the Community Broadband Bits podcast will soon be available at the feed where hopefully you found this one.

So I, I really wanna get Wes Des Moines back on the show to get an update. I know that a couple of things have changed in terms of how they laid it out. I think originally they were gonna run conduit to every home that was city owned, and I think that did not happen. So I wanna learn more about that. But I would say understand that I just said that with about 80% certainty, I'm not a hundred percent certain on that. So we do want to get more details and get more in depth on that as we move forward.

Sean Gonsalves (20:51):
Good Community broadband activity going on in Iowa, including in Waterloo?

Christopher Mitchell (20:55):
Yes. Yeah, Waterloo also moving forward they approved a general obligation bonds to fund a part of the citywide municipal fiber network that they are starting to work on. I think they're gonna have shovels in the ground this year. Mm-Hmm. <affirmative> seems a little hard to imagine right now, given the depth of snow, but <laugh>, I don't even know in Iowa, they might be much better off than than we are in terms of, of being out of the frost soon. But but yeah, that's a, it's a really big deal. Waterloo is the sister city to Cedar Falls, which has had exceptionally high quality internet access from within 25 years due to the municipal utility there. And so very curious to see what happens with Waterloo. But I think a reminder that when presented with, with an opportunity in this case, citizens came out and voted. It was a special election. It looked like it was low turnout to me, but nonetheless, I think they had a, for an by [inaudible] I think you need 60% support, and they blew that away in terms of the support that they had.

Sean Gonsalves (21:52):
Yeah. Well, the thing I like about the Waterloo what's going on in Waterloo as well as in west Des Moines is that it, it, it's two examples of cities really taken action. They in in, and two things to note too, because I think a lot of times folks think, well, if we can't get access to any of the federal grant dollars through bead or, or, or rescue plan funds, then there's no hope to finance in both of these instances. They're not relying on rescue plan funds or bead dollars to build these networks. They're, it's important enough to make that investment using city funds. And then also, you know, low and behold, even though Waterloo hasn't built out that network yet already. And, and by the way, building it, because as you alluded to earlier, mediacom, I think CenturyLink is the other provider in the area where had been so horrible for so long that folks just finally just got fed up and said, you know, let's do it ourselves. But I believe the regional I s P Metronet, who also operates a bit in that area, all of a sudden, lo and behold, they're now building a 24 million gigabit capable fiber network. So, you know, you see what happens when you, when, when cities get serious and, and start to make strides towards, you know, creating a market that really delivers the services that they need, it suddenly inspires the national providers who drag their feet or shrug their shoulders or say no to really wanna do something because they're worried about, you know, losing market share

Christopher Mitchell (23:13):
That brings to mind something that's important, which is you'll know it's more than a hundred million dollars to build all of Waterloo and Metronet is gonna do $24 million. Metronet has this habit of just coming in and being like, we're gonna go for the wealthiest areas. We're, we're gonna build, in some cases, they'll build 80% of the city, in some cases, much less. But this is not a community solution if you care about connecting everyone. And, and I think the places where Metronet goes it might be a few years of good service, but I think Metro Net's on its way to becoming just another national monopoly that doesn't have good service. So I'm deeply concerned about their future when I look at the way they operate. And the other thing was, Sean, when you were saying that, it reminded me in the interview last week, Joan Engebretson talking about 10 years ago. People would often say, if you lived in a rural area, well, if you want better internet access, you should just move. I don't think we're that far away from people saying, I'm in a city and I'm stuck with this like, cable monopoly that's overcharging me. I gotta move to a rural area where a co-op or a local family owned business has done a good job investing and like, I gotta get my fiber out there.

Sean Gonsalves (24:19):
You, you're right. It's, it's, it's this weird irony where it's almost like the tables have turned. I mean, just here, I mean, in Massachusetts, the, you know, there's tiny communities of 3, 4, 500, 700 people in Western Massachusetts that have better connectivity than folks in Boston do,

Christopher Mitchell (24:33):
And certainly better than you have on Cape Cod

Sean Gonsalves (24:36):

Christopher Mitchell (24:36):
Yeah. I mean, I know you're not in Hyannis, but I don't think they have it that much better there either, <laugh>.

Sean Gonsalves (24:40):
No, no.

Christopher Mitchell (24:42):
So the last thing we're gonna, we're gonna talk about here is just community It rolls off the tongue. You know, I think there's a little less ambiguity than muni It's something that we registered a long time ago. I registered Community Nets and we felt we should start using it because so much of the coverage we do is not actually just focused on municipal networks. We wanna continue that work that is core to, I think our analysis is the need for cities to be involved in this, whether that's in a municipal network, a public private partnership some kind of of smart local planning to do it. But there's a lot of work that's going on by co-ops. There's local companies that are doing good things that are not rent seeking. They're, they're not just trying to maximize profits, they're trying to, to make an investment that will help the community. So we wanna make sure people have a better sense that we're interested in all of that. So we've, we've gone through a new website. What are some of the top lines rye that you want people to know about under, in the new site?

Ry Marcattilio (25:48):
The same d n a that has been, muni for the last 15 years is still there. There's still an emphasis on smart city investments for any number of reasons, increasing competition and local internet choice. There's still a, an emphasis on clear-eyed practical advice and report writing. How

Christopher Mitchell (26:07):
Clear are my eyes? <Laugh>, <laugh>? I dunno, some of it's clear, right? <Laugh>,

Ry Marcattilio (26:13):
There's so all the, all the pro the research projects that we've al always done, the, the kind of the big hits will, will continue to live there. And, you know, it should be theoretically a little easier to navigate, at least for, for folks who either are visiting for the 20th time that month or for the first time ever. So we've got dedicated homes for not only the, you know, the stories and the case studies that we have and will continue to write, but the reports and then also the, some of the trackers and dashboards that we started experimenting with over the last 18 months or so. It's, it's all there and should be easy to find.

Christopher Mitchell (26:50):
And we are still working on populating it with better content. Some of these new pages that we have created, I think it's worth noting that we are open to people's ideas of what should be there. Right now, the tags are not surfaced, but that is something that we are working on resolving to try to make that more useful. People that have things that they might think we should do you can write to Rye directly And and, and he will be the one who is you know, sorting through that to make sure that we're meeting the needs of people who are out there. We're really interested in, in doing the things that will make, you know, your lives easier to, to make these local investments and those things work. So you know, we're trying to make this friendlier to everyone, and I feel like you know, Ryan and Sean, you made this happen, and I'm excited that we have it. There's a ton of work that went into a Getting Drupal upgraded, which is the content management system we've long used passed a major hump from eight to nine. And and so future upgrades will be much less painful, but this was a multi-year painful effort that you oversaw. So I'm deeply thankful for that. Sean? Yes. What are some of the things you're, you're happy about?

Sean Gonsalves (28:05):
Well, that, that, well, the first thing I'm happy about is that rib Ry bore the brunt of that pain. And all the more reason to send any complaints to rye and, and, and praise. You can send them my email. <Laugh> <laugh>. No, actually overall, I mean, I think the look of the site is cleaner. It's, it's, I think it's easier to find things. It's, it's a little brighter. And so I'm just really most happy that we are beyond the launch date. And while there's, you know, a little bit more, you know, painting and in, in things that we need to do it's, it's, it's been working like a charm.

Christopher Mitchell (28:45):
Yeah. So one of the things that we did upgrade then too, is the podcast feeds. We'll be using a new system we're using and really happy with it so far. Should give us some new analytics for, for many of you, nothing will change from our end. It'll enable a player that I think will be a bit better for us for people that want to embed the show on your own websites or things like that, that's now entirely possible, and we strongly encourage that. Take our shows, embed them anywhere. Please,

Sean Gonsalves (29:17):
One thing I would be, it, it, it would be bad on my part, not to mention, especially being the, the comms guy on, on our team, which is that the the tabs, the About Us, the news and media, community networks, where to start, et cetera, I think are much more geared to answering questions that people come to the website for. If you wanna dive a little bit deeper onto some things, and one thing in particular on the news and media, on, on that dropdown menu, there's a tab for the press center. And so if there's any journalists that are listening that come to our website or call on us for interviews, I highly suggest going to that press center page because there's some, there, there's some key facts and, and, and, and, and pointers on that page that I think will help journalists better cover these issues in their communities.

Christopher Mitchell (30:03):
Right. One of the other things that we're doing, because now we have some free time on our hands as if <laugh> is, we're, so we're excited to go to Net inclusion the national Digital Inclusion Alliance event next week. We're kicking off yet another podcast series. If you want to hear more of my voice, Sean's voice, deanne's voice, maybe occasionally RISE's voice. We're gonna be doing live interviews at events that we go to more often now, and then running those on the feet of a show that we're calling Building for Digital Equity. So this will go hand in hand with our live stream events, which we'll be doing more of, will be announcing the date for our second quarter show for building for digital equity soon. But we're gonna have a podcast feed. That podcast feed could like, you know, be overflowing for a little while, where we might do two episodes a week for several weeks for like, you know, eight weeks maybe.

And then it might go quiet for a few weeks while we get to another event and do more interviews. So it's gonna be a little bit more intermittent, it's gonna be shorter shows, it's gonna be, I think, tighter interviews you know, focused on what people are doing locally. And they're mostly gonna be shows that we're recording at live events. So if you're going to net inclusion look us up, we're gonna be at a table near the ballroom doing those interviews. You know, make bunky noises in the background maybe. And, and you might get into the, you hear that in the background of one of them <laugh>. So but we're gonna, we're gonna have a good time with that show. And it's just the yet another step toward our media empire and community broadband. Right?

Sean Gonsalves (31:37):
And if this show happens to come out on Tuesday, the following day is the the Friendly Spot Ice House, the Connect This! special show, and

Christopher Mitchell (31:46):
Yes. Yeah. So Wednesday night we're doing a special episode of Connect This! That reminds me, Ry, we need you to schedule that and promote it so people will be in the chat room, even if they can't be there in person in San Antonio. But we are gonna do a live show in San Antonio. And if that goes well which it will, because we're gonna have Kim McKinley, Angela Seifer, and probably someone else as well as other rotating guests we will do more of the Connect this live shows. So that will be coming up probably at broadband communities and maybe at some of the other great conferences that we're able to, to go to. So yeah, there's a bunch of stuff coming. We have ideas always open to other people's ideas. So as we close out, Ry, is there anything else you wanna, you wanna highlight?

Ry Marcattilio (32:31):
I think the only thing worth mentioning is that some of the Livestreamed events through net inclusion will be so the, the main place to find those will be through n DIA's website and social media and the channels that they have set up. But we will also be hosting some of those live streams on our social media, on Twitter, on LinkedIn and YouTube and Facebook as well.

Christopher Mitchell (32:54):
So, excellent. Those would pri primarily be Wednesday and Thursday. And yes, we'll be using the same streamy yard platform that we use for Connect This. And and for people who can't be there, it'd be really great to tune in and, and check out some of those sessions.

Sean Gonsalves (33:09):
I'm really looking forward to San Antonio. It's February in Cape Cod, Massachusetts. It's actually been like about 40, 50 degrees, so nothing like it is in Minnesota, but still, it'd be nice to be, feel some of that nice weather in San Antonio. Speak

Christopher Mitchell (33:22):
For yourself, man. I'm, I'm getting outta here. I'm gonna go sledding in about an hour, so, <laugh>.

Ry Marcattilio (33:27):

Sean Gonsalves (33:27):
Right, well, you know, be careful out there cuz you're, you know, we're gonna need you for that. Connect this, right?

Christopher Mitchell (33:32):
So why was Chris in the hospital? Rather than in that inclusion <laugh>, we're

Sean Gonsalves (33:35):
Gonna need you to be ambulatory <laugh>,

Christopher Mitchell (33:39):
Fortunately for people who think there might be any danger. Welcome to Minnesota Hills, <laugh>. It won't be going very far. <Laugh>.

Sean Gonsalves (33:46):
And then you're also gonna be doing karaoke out here, right? No.

Christopher Mitchell (33:49):
Oh, no, no. Definitely not. <Laugh> <laugh>. That will not be happening. Great to great to have both of you on the show once again, and looking forward to seeing everyone soon at an event in net inclusion or another one I hope. But oh, last thing is before we move the show, we checked the stats one last time. I don't get too OBEs obsessed over stats, but in the life of community broadband, bits at that feed which was I think on the order of six or seven years you know, which is a good, I'm gonna say 300 some episodes. We had 150,000 listenings of the show. So that's pretty special. Thank you everyone who stuck with us, who sees a lot of value in this and is using it to make a better world. It's really great and we look forward to continuing that. Have a great one everyone.

Ry Marcattilio (34:39):
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 I L S R, including building Local Power, local Energy Rules, and the Composting for Community Podcast. You can access them anywhere you get your podcasts. You can catch the latest important research from all of our initiatives if you subscribe to our monthly While you're there, please take a moment to donate your support in any amount. Keeps us going. Thank you to Arne Hughes B for the song, warm Duck Shuffle, licensed through Creative Commons. This was the Community Broadband Bits podcast. Thanks for listening.