A Monkeybrainey Plan to Improve Connectivity in San Francisco Public Housing - Community Broadband Bits Podcast 319

Communities who want the best for their citizens typically recognize the importance of digital equity and often take steps to develop digital inclusion programs. Last year on the podcast, we invited folks from the ISP Monkeybrains to explain how they were working with the city of San Francisco to develop a way to provide high-speed connectivity to residents living in several public housing facilities. We decided it was time to share the details of their model so other communities could consider their approach as a workable plan. Our summer Public Policy Intern Hannah Rank took on the task of writing a detailed report about the project. This week, she sat down with Christopher to offer a preview of what she’s learned.

In addition to an outline about the history of ISP Monkebrains and where they obtained additional funding for the project, Christopher and Hannah discuss the pros and cons of the California Advanced Services Fund (CASF). They discuss how a smart digital inclusion program as part of such a plan to offer broadband to lower-income households can help those enrolled and help keep overall costs down. 

Be sure to look for the release of our report this fall to learn more details about how San Francisco and Monkeybrains are bringing better connectivity to public housing to help residents participate in the digital economy. Until then, you can learn more about Monkeybrains and the plan by listening to episode 264 of the podcast.

This show is 32 minutes long and can be played on this page or via Apple Podcasts or the tool of your choice using this feed

Transcript below. 

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

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

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


Hannah Rank: If you have buildings that have the capacity for really easy, fast Internet connectivity, that's really half the battle.

Lisa Gonzalez: This is episode 319 of the Community Broadband Bits podcast from the Institute for Local Self-Reliance. I'm Lisa Gonzalez. A year ago we first brought you information on the podcast about a special program in San Francisco to bring high quality connectivity to residents of the city's public housing units. In episode 264 of the podcast, we spoke with Preston Rhea and Mason Carroll from Monkeybrains, the wireless ISP working on the project. We thought the plan and its results were awesome, so we decided to produce a report that included the details about the project. The approach is one other communities can reproduce, so we put one of our stellar public policy interns on the task of developing a report: Hannah Rank. Hannah has left to return to grad school, but before she took off, she sat down with Christopher for episode 319 of the podcast to get into the details of what she learned about the Monkeybrains San Francisco project. Hannah and Christopher talk about funding, services available to subscribers, and the digital inclusion program that has more than an obvious advantage in this approach. Here's Christopher and Hannah Rank discussing San Francisco's program to bring better Internet access to residents living in public housing and how their partner for the project, Monkeybrains, is making that happen.

Christopher Mitchell: Welcome to another episode of the Community Broadband Bits podcast. You know, I'm getting kind of tired of saying it that way, but I feel like it annoys a number of people so I have to keep it up.

Hannnah Rank: Well, I edit, or [do] the transcript for this, so I hear it all the time. I'm used to it.

Christopher Mitchell: The voice that you're hearing is Hannah Rank, our, um, an intern we've had over the summer from the Humphrey School of Public Affairs. Welcome to the show, Hannah.

Hannnah Rank: Thank you. Thanks for having me.

Christopher Mitchell: And I'm Chris Mitchell, the guy who's tired of doing the same intro for 300 plus shows, um, with the Institute for Local Self-Reliance up in Minneapolis, freshly back from a wonderful trip to Mozilla, the Mozilla Foundation, which was just doing a contest for smart city and some disaster recovery type of technology and interesting projects. So I'm enthusiastic even though a little tired and jet lagged. Hannah, we're going to talk about San Francisco.

Hannnah Rank: Sounds good.

Christopher Mitchell: So you have been spending a lot of your time this summer working on a report about what Monkeybrains is doing in San Francisco. Who are Monkeybrains?

Hannnah Rank: Um, Monkeybrains is a local San Francisco ISP. They offer wireless Internet service.

Christopher Mitchell: Right, I think they might be the largest wireless Internet service provider in an urban area, but um, I'm not totally sure about that.

Hannnah Rank: That very well could be. They certainly service a lot of San Francisco, which is a large urban center, so I wouldn't be surprised. And they've been operating since 1998 and just recently in the last couple of years have been providing free or low cost Internet — well, free for residents, um, at a couple of low income housing complexes in the city of San Francisco, in the Bayview neighborhood and the neighborhood of Western Addition.

Christopher Mitchell: We'd talked with Preston Rhea and Mason Carroll from Monkeybrains back in episode 264, about 50 episodes ago, um, about some of this stuff and just more generally about the technology they use, but you've really been zeroing in on how they're really at the forefront of what I think will ultimately be the solution we see in public housing in many cases, both from a technological side and also a pricing side.

Hannnah Rank: Yeah, definitely. They really took the reigns in, um, talking to a lot of different stakeholders, both the housing providers and the city of San Francisco, to try to really zero in on how can we do this well, how can we do this easily and efficiently? Um, and so I think they really worked hard to try to make this a sustainable model for the future.

Christopher Mitchell: And you're, you've written a report — you've written a strong draft of a report that we're still, we're still tweaking and learning what mistakes we've made and things like that. Um, but you're going to be gone soon, so we're doing a preview of it. I'm going to have to finish up the work and inject my own errors into your error-free writing, I'm sure. Um, and so we wanted to, we wanted to do a preview because we'll be releasing this in September we hope, and um, and it's really interesting. We talked about it a little bit in that previous podcast with Mason and Preston. Um, but there's a couple of things that I think we've learned since then that we want to get down. One of them that I think is really important is in 2018, I feel crazy saying this, we still have people building buildings — I mean we're — not even just low income housing, but all kinds of buildings — without proper wiring. That, that blows my mind. You know, you don't spend as much time, you know, like fretting about things like this. But was that surprising to you?

Hannnah Rank: Yeah, definitely. So the housing complexes names are Hunters Point East and West, and that's a series of like clusters on east and west side, and Robert Pitts, which is a separate housing complex that was in Western Addition, and both of them were undergoing major remodels. And we can talk a little bit about where the remodeling aspect came from, the impetus behind that. But yeah, so the — they were undergoing major remodels and that included rewiring of all the units. And so during that process, before you know, Monkeybrains and other, you know, ISPs or the Department of Technology of the City of San Francisco got involved, they were wiring for category 5e, which is a type of Ethernet wire that —

Christopher Mitchell: Right. We all just call it Cat-5e.

Hannnah Rank: Cat-5e. The industry peeps, but I'm not really part of that, so I say the full name. But yeah, so that wiring supports telephone or telephone and, um, fiber connection, but the fiber connection would be slower. The way that they were doing it was they were offering just the telephone jack, but Monkeybrains stepped in and said no. And they put in a very simple change order and actually got them to jack for both the landline and for Ethernet. But that only supports about 100 Megabits per second of speed, of symmetrical speed, which is fast, but, um, fiber can easily support a gig.

Christopher Mitchell: Well, it's, it's worth noting, I mean just for people conceptually to think about, when we say Cat-5e, um, what that means is four twisted pairs typically, um, which means you have actually eight wires in the sheath. I think two of them would support telephone which would then leave you with, with, um, six, but I think probably just really four, to be able to use for data. And the way that ... I don't know if you can actually use six. This isn't an area that I know quite a lot about. I'm sort of wandering out on a ....

Hannnah Rank: Certainly me neither.

Christopher Mitchell: Right? ... wandering out on a branch, but the ...

Hannnah Rank: Can't throw you much of a bone.

Christopher Mitchell: ... the fundamental point is, is that if, if they could do it all over again, it would have been great to have two Cat-5e wires to every unit, so that you could have one dedicated for broadband and another one for voice services.

Hannnah Rank: Exactly. And that's what Preston was saying in our conversations about this report, is that if they had gotten to this sooner, if they, if perhaps the building housing providers had consulted somebody who works in this industry, they would know that just a simple — to pull two instead of one wires into each unit would have made certainly a lot more flexibility in the future, depending on what they wanted, what the residents themselves wanted to do with those wirings.

Christopher Mitchell: Right. And that's a very low cost at the time.

Hannnah Rank: Right. And so now they're kind of — they're being smart about it and they did a workaround and um, pulled a new jack right in the nick of time. But um, it would have certainly given them a lot more flexibility to, if they wanted gig service, to have it.

Christopher Mitchell: So if we step back for a second, I mean these were areas of the city that have been significantly rehabilitated under a specific program that you wanted to tell us a little bit about. And I think it's relevant for making sure that other cities that are looking at these opportunities get it right the first time.

Hannnah Rank: Right. So, um, rental assistance demonstration is a, it's a — we're going to throw a lot of acronyms out — but um, it's a, it's a federal program that is run by the Office of Housing and Urban Development, which is a federal agency. It's a process by which, um, public housing, run by the public housing authorities of cities and municipalities, gets converted into Section 8 eligible housing. So that means it becomes owned by a private entity, whether that be like a nonprofit housing developer or just a regular housing developer.

Christopher Mitchell: And let me just say that that makes me nervous. I haven't looked into it enough to get a sense. Like, I wouldn't say I want to have a knee jerk reaction, but it makes me nervous. But it is a reality, and so we need to make sure that whatever kind of low income housing stock we have is ready to support these kinds of services.

Hannnah Rank: Right. Not to go too far down that road, but I think a lot of housing advocates would just say, "Better funding for public housing," instead of transferring debts onto the private entities. But the reality is it's a popular program, at least in the federal government, because it's debt neutral for them. They just transfer the public housing. And, and that, it makes, um, the actual housing, um, eligible for debt financing, which it can't be if it's a public housing unit, and other types of financing, which, um — and basically it lightens the load for public housing authorities, to be quite frank. But Section 8 housing basically is a — well Section 8 is actually a voucher where, um, individuals who are low income that need rental assistance can apply and get that funding to basically reduce their costs to just, I think it's about 30 percent of their income. In San Francisco, there's a minimum amount that they have to pay for rent, which is I believe $25.

Christopher Mitchell: Right. We're getting a little bit off of subject, but, but while we're here, Matthew Desmond's book Evicted is incredible. It got a lot of really good reviews for good reasons, so for people who are interested in what it's like to be, um, on Section 8 housing in different — well particularly in Milwaukee, but, but also more generally, um, that is just a fantastic read. Um, but the point here I think is, is that where you have these kinds of big clusters, centralized public housing, you have an opportunity to do relatively insignificant onetime costs to really solve this problem. And that's what Monkeybrains is demonstrating. That's what your case study's really going to talk about, is that when these properties are being redeveloped, you can get the wiring internally right. You can make it easy for an ISP, a profit — a for-profit ISP or a nonprofit ISP, to come in, offer good services that will work for them. Now, in this case, Monkeybrains also had the benefit of a program from the California Public Utilities Commission, what we often call CPUC, and specifically a program within there called the California Advanced Services Fund, which people have often referred to as CASF.

Hannnah Rank: The California Advanced Services Fund is a more specific type of funding for, um, renovations that have to do with, um, increasing broadband access. So —

Christopher Mitchell: Well the entire CASF fund, I actually — just as you were saying that I was thinking — I've long lamented that states are pretty much only putting money into rural areas and not putting money into urban areas, but California is a rare state, and possibly the only state I know of, in which the California Advanced Services Fund can be used for both rural or urban needs.

Hannnah Rank: Yeah. Basically they define the funding eligibility based on unserved or underserved. And that is basically whether you have access to a certain threshold of what they determined to be broadband, which we can talk about, but it's basically, it's a lot low — the most recent, um, re-up of the funding that the legislature passed, changed, or lowered, the threshold from the FCC's definition of broadband to California's own definition of broadband, which is unfortunate, but for a different time to talk about. Um, yeah. But so basically, depending, I can't remember exactly what the, um ...

Christopher Mitchell: 6/1.

Hannnah Rank: 6/1. Okay. So a lot lower. Still, regardless, there are people in San Francisco proper who don't have 6/1 capability or access. Certainly, I think probably in this case, it's just out of reach financially. Maybe infrastructure-wise in some parts, but certainly financially.

Christopher Mitchell: Yes. And so in this case, um, Comcast had bid to serve the buildings and Monkeybrains, um, decided that they could do better and, um, and then they got this money from the CASF which really helped enable them to really do an incredible job of providing the highest, um, the service that we see in public housing anywhere that's available at no charge to residents.

Hannnah Rank: Yeah, definitely. Comcast's bid was much higher. I don't know the semantics of how much it was, but basically Monkeybrains both committed to offering really low [cost] Internet service and also found different funding resources that would help them along — this CASF being a huge one and then the rental assistance demonstration. So it's kind of like putting pieces of the puzzle together for financing. And also you have to have a city that's looking to renovate and update its public housing, which as we've seen everywhere, it's kind of the case where it needs a lot of updating in a lot of major cities. So it's not like it wouldn't be able to be possible. But yeah, just finding those pieces of financing to get it going.

Christopher Mitchell: Right. Yeah, We think this is broadly replicable, which is why we're both talking about it and writing about it. Um, but it's, it's worth noting, as we did I believe in podcast 264, that these are mostly one time investments, so they can provide service on an ongoing basis at a very low cost if you get the one time investments right. Whereas, I think too many public housing facilities settle for having Wi-Fi in the hallways, which doesn't deliver a good service and to everyone. It's certainly not an even service. I think there's security concerns about it. Although, there are practices that could remedy a number of those. Um, but the challenge fundamentally is that I believe we should be striving to have Internet access to everyone in their home that is not interfered with by their neighbors, and that's something that I believe Monkeybrains is really getting right.

Hannnah Rank: Yeah. I think this fits into Monkeybrains's belief that practices that involve digital inclusion is necessary to get everybody up to speed for digital equity. I mean quite literally, building-wide Wi-Fi is maybe easier to, to install. Um, it's maybe less labor intensive, but it definitely does not get people up to the standard of Internet access that they need to be creators on the Internet, to be participants of the Internet. Um, in-unit Ethernet is not that hard, but it takes some coordination and it takes some planning and it's not just like popping in a Wi-Fi connection at the last minute and calling it a day.

Christopher Mitchell: Right. I think probably some of this just comes from — I mean, the people who run public housing are very busy. They're very specialized. They're overworked. Many of them probably are just thinking, "Oh, wireless is the future."

Hannnah Rank: Right.

Christopher Mitchell: "Wireless will be good enough." And something that we've mentioned before is that Monkeybrains is itself a wireless ISP. Now, they're very deliberate, as many WISPs have become, in terms of recognizing where wires are better, where wireless is better, so they may actually have a network which is wired from point A to B, wireless from B to C, and then wired again from C to D, and then it may even be wireless at that point from D to the device, E. Um, as you go from different hops in the network and um, and they basically pick the lower cost option, and not just lower costs of one time, but lower lifetime costs of how it's gonna work out, I think. Um, and so let's just briefly talk about this. So, but the services, depending on the wiring of the home, they're getting 100 Megabits or a Gigabit, right?

Hannnah Rank: Right. So, um, I believe in Robert Pitts — which we've talked about less because it was a little bit more of a streamlined effort — I believe they have a gigabit there because the project just was more coordinated, um, because it was after Hunters Point East and West. But at Hunters Point East and West, they have 100 Megabits per second already. If they want more, they can coordinate that with Monkeybrains.

Christopher Mitchell: One of the benefits of doing this recording now and getting things on the record when we haven't nailed everything down is that any mistakes we're making now will be corrected in the paper, which will have more detail.

Hannnah Rank: Preston, listen to this. If it's not right, let me know, please.

Christopher Mitchell: So, um, and we should just note: Preston, Mason, the folks at Monkeybrains have been incredible.

Hannnah Rank: So helpful.

Christopher Mitchell: We would not be able to do this podcast without them — the report without them. Uh, they have been very open in sharing a lot of this information. So, um, I just give them tremendous respect. And I wanted to, I just want to ask you, you went to Grad school, you know, you started Grad school, you got an internship studying — doing broadband policy. Did you expect that you would say Monkeybrains more than the entire cast of Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom?

Hannnah Rank: No, but it's a pleasant surprise, let me tell you. Sometimes I'm talking about it in staff meetings and I think people hold back giggles because they are doing really great work. They just have an awesome name.

Christopher Mitchell: Right? I constantly tell people, particularly when I'm out on the west coast, I start talking about the project and then, I'm going to say Monkeybrains, and I say, "So I'm about to say the name of the ISP. You have to understand that these people are very serious. They're very good at what they do. Their name is Monkeybrains."

Hannnah Rank: Yep. Yep. You can't blame 'em for it. They also have an awesome logo of like a very crazy looking monkey. It's awesome.

Christopher Mitchell: Yeah. Well, probably a very smart monkey.

Hannnah Rank: Yes.

Christopher Mitchell: But I wanted to ask you: who's paying for what? And this is something that just, uh, we're really going to nail down very clearly in the report. Um, but in general right now, people are getting 100 Megabits, a Gigabit, depending on which building they're in. How much are they paying?

Hannnah Rank: Yeah. So this is one of the best parts about this is that their residents are not paying for anything right now. And um, Monkeybrains has worked out a really good, I think, offer that they are getting a little bit of funding for it, but um, at the end of the day the residents aren't paying anything and that's really important because — even for service calls I believe. And so that's, like, something that really promotes buy-in if they know that there's no, there's no little nickel and dime-ing happening. It's free and they just really want you to get involved and they want you to get you to that fast Internet service

Christopher Mitchell: Right. Over time there will be some charges, presumably. We don't know and no one knows yet, it hasn't been settled, how they might be allocated because over time as we see more public housing agencies do this, we might see some of them paying for it, um, you know, just as they may other kinds of services or they may pass through a charge. But one of the points that we want to make is that any charge that, that will go through, no matter who pays it, will be reasonable. It's not going to be $50 per household unit or something like that.

Hannnah Rank: No. I think the key here is that Monkeybrains is a for-profit business. They have costs that they have to control, but their goal is not at all just to find another place to, you know, get money from. It's, it's definitely always been a priority of theirs to, um, just get these folks to have fast Internet in any — by any means possible whether that's finding funding from other sources or coordinating really strong relationships with the housing providers to get them to believe that it's important too, to then, you know, maybe think about investing in this in the future. That's always been their tactic from the start.

Christopher Mitchell: This is one of the reasons that I sometimes yell at people. I think more often I don't yell, but sometimes —

Hannnah Rank: Do you need a reason?

Christopher Mitchell: More insights from Chris's management style.

Hannnah Rank: Just kidding, everybody.

Christopher Mitchell: ... um, is that sometimes people, like, when they're thinking about Comcast or the big companies, they just generalize for-profit companies. It is worth noting — I mean we've had many companies on here that are for-profit companies that are, that have had a larger impact than nonprofits ha``ve had. And so it is worth remembering that, you know, for-profit can mean a lot of different things.

Hannnah Rank: Absolutely.

Christopher Mitchell: And it often depends on the scale of the, of the firm and who's running it. So, um, the, the last thing that we want to make sure we touched on was some of the digital inclusion pieces, and I think, I think this is one of the pieces that has to fall into place nationally because, um, one of the biggest costs that Monkeybrains could face would be these service calls, uh, particularly among populations that do not have very good Internet access skills, computer literacy. So having a digital inclusion component can take some of the pressure off of an ISP and allow them to keep their costs down, if they're not the front line of answering questions about why a computer might not be working.

Hannnah Rank: Right. So, um, one of the people — the organizations rather that we haven't really talked about as much, that were sort of peripherally involved in this whole effort —

Christopher Mitchell: Well, there — yeah, there was certainly, uh — I would say we wouldn't want to minimize their role in making it happen, but —

Hannnah Rank: No, but just in terms of this actual process, um, they were integral in getting Monkeybrains involved, is Community Tech Network, um, run by Kami Griffiths. We've talked with her about this.

Christopher Mitchell: And I think, um, her, um, sort of — I was going to say partner in crime, Mike Mccarthy, who worked for the city and is a, um, has been an incredible resource for me over the years, both in terms of San Francisco and also just thinking about these issues more generally.

Hannnah Rank: Yeah, definitely. He's been helping us along with this, too. Um, so CTN, Preston Rhea is — was — I don't believe he still is, but if I'm wrong, Preston, let me know. Um, he was on the board of CTN, um, which is, uh, if you guys haven't heard of it, it's a digital literacy and inclusion nonprofit. And basically their main focus right now is doing training programs in places where there are populations that don't have adequate access to the Internet or are not versed in the Internet. And so they mainly focus on the, what they call the three legs of the stool — I never get that right — which is, um, adequate and affordable Internet access.

Christopher Mitchell: One stool.

Hannnah Rank: Yeah.

Christopher Mitchell: One leg.

Hannnah Rank: One leg — see, you do it too. And the second leg is, um, getting a device that would — that they prefer to use and can use well. And then the third one is, yeah, just getting them versed in how to use the Internet. I think a lot of times with, um, getting people involved is that they're wary of using the Internet. They've never used it before or had, you know, spotty access, and they just don't think it's a really powerful tool for, tool for them. And so Kami and CTN, they work with generally older populations, maybe populations with disabilities, or folks that, um, whose language — first language isn't English. And then, also communities of lower income who don't maybe have as much access regularly to the Internet. The ISP Monkeybrains took care of the fast, adequate Internet access, affordable being the main component, and then the other two is just getting that buy-in. If you have a device that you know how to use and you like using it, that's half the battle. But also just feeling safe and comfortable on the Internet knowing that it can be a great tool to connect with your friends and family and also a tool to, um, participate in the economy, whether it's even just going on a job board and finding a job to like, you know, starting a small business. There's lots of shades to that, um, but all of those make you feel like a participant in one of the most powerful forms of connection, the Internet. So ...

Christopher Mitchell: So Hannah, as you've been doing this work, you know, what have you found in terms of what are the limits of, of some of these folks, um, having — taking advantage of access to the Internet? The, the low income populations.

Hannnah Rank: The thing that Kami brought up that was one of the main ones is affordability. You know, the prohibitive costs of the Internet. A, uh, really recent Pew report showed that about — I think I want to say it's, it's 20 percent of Internet users are smartphone-only users, which, you know, you could just say that people use their smartphones more, but when paired with another statistic, it shows that it's really about affordability, which is that people making less than $30,000 a year, you know, a good portion of those are only smartphone users. And so that tells us that — something that you guys have talked about constantly at ILSR and the Community Broadband Initiative is that it's a lot about affordability. When you think about how, how expensive it can be to have a wireless Internet plan — I'm sorry, an Internet plan rather — and to have a, um, a smartphone service, the pairing of those two can be prohibitive for people. So they just choose, you know, "I need to call people. I need to text people. I'll just use my internet on my phone and, you know, try to work with that." But if anyone's tried to, like, edit a paper or look something more in depth up online, it's just, on a smart phone, very hard to do. So it's much better to have, like, a device where you can have all the options for using the Internet.

Christopher Mitchell: Right. And so as we're talking about how to keep those costs low, I think it's worth just going over exactly what, um, the, some of the costs and the technology are to do this. So you, let's just say that you have a new low income housing building going in — or complex because a lot of times these are, you know, sort of like a campus of multiple buildings. We're not seeing giant high rises being built anymore. That's not a particularly good way of dealing with concentrated poverty. So you have that. So you have a couple of, of costs. One of those — you have a couple of one time costs to really focus on. And it's worth noting that it is often the debt from these one time costs that makes these projects more challenging. And so if you can find one time sources of capital, then your operating costs can be quite low. But those one time costs you might think of as one, wiring the individual unit and that, um, should be well under $100 per unit to do, um, particularly when the walls are open, everything else. Well under $100 to get all that, um, wiring to each unit. Two Cat 5 wires or, or a fiber to, you know... At that point when the walls are open, it's really cheap to put a lot of things in it. Running conduit would be nice. In some cases it may be impractical, but — and then typically, just for people to come see conceptually, you want to run each unit to a closet on that floor maybe or down to a basement, a room. You just want to make it very easy for someone to come in and just by going to one or two rooms in your com— in your building, be able to connect any unit anywhere basically. Um, so that's one of the one time costs. And then the other, which is more significant, would be, um, getting high quality Internet access to the building, um, either through a fiber network, that could be very costly if the city does not already have one nearby, or you can use what Monkeybrains used in many cases in its business, which is a high capacity fixed wireless link, where you might be looking at on the order of $3,000 per radio, I think, to do that. I am not as good yet at remembering if it's per pair or per radio. Um, but those are one time costs that, that again, as you — if can just take care of them and not have any debt associated with them, then your operating costs are very low to be able to deliver high quality Internet access, whether from a nonprofit or from a for-profit company, to those units. Again, then your largest cost is going to be your kind of help desk, is what we call it. But if you have a digital inclusion program, which is something that you probably really need anyway for other benefits, then they can really help take some of the pressure off of the ISP. Then, at a relatively low charge, you could have a very good ISP taking care of a lot of that rather than doing it yourself. Certainly no problem doing it yourself in many cases, um, but in my experience people would rather have a specialized company doing that anyway. So Monkeybrains is showing that this can all work and you're, you're explaining to the world how, how that works.

Hannnah Rank: Yeah. I think what you touched on is really important. If you have buildings that have the capacity for really easy, fast Internet connectivity, that's really half the battle. And then people in organizations like CTN helping get that buy-in on the residents' side is also a huge effort.

Christopher Mitchell: Right. Yeah, and that's something that we talked about in — with relation to Queensbridge actually, which is a massive public housing development in New York City where they're doing a big Wi-Fi program to get people, uh, online. And one of the things that they found is that hiring people from within, who live in the community, to be part of that outreach effort is really essential for buy-in. And I thought — I think the report was done by, um, Rakeen Mabud, and I think we had her on the show. Um, but I found her research on that to be really instructive.

Hannnah Rank: Yeah, absolutely. There's plenty of people in the community that are really willing and happy to be patient teachers, um, yeah, 'cause that's half the battle. Just being friendly and patient and letting people take their time to learn these programs and really getting them excited about learning.

Christopher Mitchell: Well, thanks Hannah for, for doing the report. Thanks for coming into to give us a preview of what's going to be coming out. It's been a pleasure working with you.

Hannnah Rank: Yeah. Thanks for having me.

Lisa Gonzalez: That was Christopher and Hannah Rank, who recently worked as one of our public policy interns and has been developing a case study on San Francisco, the WISP Monkeybrains, and their project to bring digital inclusion to the city's public housing residents. As Christopher and Hannah mentioned in the interview, the report will be ready this fall. Check back for updates. We have transcripts for this and other podcasts available at muninetworks.org/broadbandbits. Email us at podcast@muninetworks.org with your ideas for the show. Follow Chris on Twitter; his handle is @communitynets. You can also follow muninetworks.org stories on Twitter; the handle is @muninetworks. Subscribe to this podcast and the other ILSR podcasts Building Local Power and the Local Energy Rules Podcast. You can access them wherever you get your podcasts. Never miss out on our original research; subscribe to our monthly newsletter at ilsr.org. Thanks to Arne Huseby for the song Warm Duck Shuffle, licensed through Creative Commons, and thanks for listening to episode 319 of the Community Broadband Bits podcast.