A New Frontier for Broadband Funding in California - Community Broadband Bits Episode 409

The Electronic Frontier Foundation (EFF) has worked for many years to protect privacy and civil liberties online and to support technological innovation and widespread Internet access.

Ernesto Falcon, Senior Legislative Counsel at EFF, speaks with Christopher for this episode of the Community Broadband Bits podcast. After explaining EFF's mission, Ernesto shares his background and how he got involved in the organization, before moving on to describe some of their policy efforts in California. The pair discuss EFF's involvement in repealing California's state law that had restricted municipal broadband networks. Christopher notes how AT&T has historically had a strong hold over Democrats in the state legislature, and Ernesto explains how EFF is working to counter that influence.

Ernesto and Christopher also talk about the California Advanced Services Fund and how State Bill 1130 would improve the program to bring better quality Internet access to more Californians. In particular, Ernesto points to the importance of symmetrical speeds and of designing policies that look to the future of connectivity. This has been highlighted by the Covid-19 public health crisis, and the two explore how the California Public Utilities Commission could help enable distance learning and respond to other urgent connectivity needs.

For more from EFF, listen to episode 145 of the Community Broadband Bits podcast.

This show is 30 minutes long and can be played on this page or via Apple Podcasts or the tool of your choice using this feed

Transcript below. 

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


Ernesto Falcon: My hope is we can get SB 1130 done this year on an expedited basis, free up the agency to really remedy these harms, and as well as free up the capacity of local governments that are kind of in a war room footing right now to explore their options to build out their own networks.

Jess Del Fiacco: Welcome to episode 409 of the Community Broadband Bits Podcast. This is Jess Del Fiacco, Communications Manager here at the Institute for Local Self Reliance. In today's episode, Christopher talks with Ernesto Falcon, Senior Legislative Counsel at the Electronic Frontier Foundation. Ernesto gives Christopher a brief history of the organization and the two discussed the Electronic Frontier Foundation's involvement in repealing California's municipal broadband preemption. Ernesto also talks about the California advanced services fund program, why so many people have been left without internet access during the pandemic, and what the future of connectivity looks like. Here's Christopher talking with Ernesto Falcon, of the Electronic Frontier Foundation.

Christopher Mitchell: Welcome to another episode of the Community Broadband Bits Podcast. This is Christopher Mitchell from the Institute for Local Self Reliance in Saint Paul, Minnesota, talking with someone who's a bit warmer, a bit sunnier, Ernesto Falcon, welcome to the show.

Ernesto Falcon: Hey, thanks for having me.

Christopher Mitchell: So Ernesto, you're not only in the California area, you just have a very bright disposition, I've noticed over the years. You are the senior legislative counsel for the Electronic Frontier Foundation, which most people know is EFF. Just a little bit of background. What's EFF?

Ernesto Falcon: Yeah, so the Electronic Frontier Foundation, we're a nonprofit public interest law firm, meaning we do representation for free on issues impacting first amendment, fourth amendment rights as well as a hand full of technology policy issues and impact speech and privacy. We are basically three different teams; lawyers, engineers and activists. And we've been around for 30 years, we were about to hit our 30th year anniversary.

Ernesto Falcon: And the origin of EFF when we started was, the internet was coming, technology was coming, and how do we protect what we have now in terms of our rights and our ability to communicate and share with one another as becomes more digital. And those fights have kind of spiraled in many different directions. And my special area of focus with EFF is broadband access and kind of what's the future of access to make sure everyone has the same high speed access that they deserve.


Christopher Mitchell: How did you come to that?

Ernesto Falcon: So I have always tinkered with technology growing up. So I was born in 1981, so there's a time when, as a kid you're playing with video games and computers and your adults will tell you that's not a thing you could do for a living. So because it just wasn't a field and people didn't think that was possible. The internet didn't really exist and then it became dial up and I just kept up with the hobbies and eventually the hobbies turned into a career.

Ernesto Falcon: I went to the political space right after college, did some campaign work and realized that's not exactly what I wanted to do. I wanted to really focus on the technology policy, which was still kind of in its infancy, and went to Washington D.C. and worked in Congress. Did that for six years. And during that time you had the big final net neutrality. That was in 2005 which really convinced me this was the direction I wanted to go. I eventually joined a nonprofit consumer group called Public Knowledge and made my wat to law school out in California-

Christopher Mitchell: Never heard of them.

Ernesto Falcon: Yeah. Made my way to law school after that, because I was surrounded by a lot of lawyers that I thought were doing brilliant work and I wanted to be one too. And from that point, I met Corynne McSherry who's the legal director of EFF.

Christopher Mitchell: Yeah. She's been on the show maybe three years ago or so.

Ernesto Falcon: Oh yeah. Excellent. Excellent. Yeah. And I worked with her in D.C. and I talked to her to get advice about what to do. I wanted to stay in the policy work, didn't want to litigate as a lawyer, but I still wanted to stay in California. And it was just fortuitous that EFF was also trying to bulk up its policy and legislative work. Prior to that, it was mostly focused on litigation and kind of making progress on that front. But there are limits to that, and some of these fights have to be fought in the halls of Congress as well as in state legislatures. And so that was my primary reason to be hired at EFF in 2015 now.

Christopher Mitchell: And that's where you and I started crossing paths on a more regular basis was around AB 1999, which was almost two years ago now I guess.

Ernesto Falcon: That's right.

Christopher Mitchell: When California became one of the few states to repeal preemption. It was a pretty minor issue, but I'm really excited you led the fight to make sure that they got rid of it. You want to just tell us what that was about?


Ernesto Falcon: Yeah, absolutely. And it's always been great to work with you and all the great work your organization does, because I think it is proven what industry has tried to convince lawmakers is not possible, which is we don't have to depend on them, we can just build it ourselves.

Ernesto Falcon: So, for background for folks, so AB 1999 was a law that that happened at the exact same time, or I guess shortly after the FCC repeal net neutrality in 2017. So 2017 that happens towards the end of the year or towards the middle of the year and the states start responding on what to do about broadband access at home. We had a big fight on California on net neutrality as a law called SB 822. And at the same time we had this parallel fight on municipalities and local government building its own open networks that were net neutral as well, and that's AB 1999.

Ernesto Falcon: And the trick that the industry pulled off in California, because it's never a frontal assault on the idea that no one else should build something but us, it's always these kind of silly side arguments. And the argument there was, you should allow private industry to buy public assets if they build a broadband network as a means to ensure that private investment is robust and not driven out by the public sector.

Ernesto Falcon: And in effect, what it actually did was made the public sector take the risk of how to provide service and difficult to serve markets, and if they able to pull it off, which thanks to the work of your organization kind of showing this has happened everywhere, once they've proven it's out, it's doable, it's actually financially feasible, and then low behold the private company will buy it out to absorb the profits that would have gone back to the taxpayer.

Christopher Mitchell: It's just hard to imagine why anyone would have thought that was a good idea, even at the time.

Ernesto Falcon: Yeah.

Christopher Mitchell: It's pretty nuts to think that you would basically force a community to sell something that they had built. I mean just there's a lot of shenanigans that these companies pull, but a lot of times it's more complicated than just saying, "Nope, it doesn't matter how popular it is, there's no recourse. The public just has to get rid of it."


Ernesto Falcon: That's exactly right. And there's just a lack of understanding and that's starting to disappear little by little, I think more so this year than ever before, but a lack of understanding the role of the public sector and broadband access. You go back five years, six years ago, and most people thought, you really just had to rely on figuring out how to get the private companies to build everywhere. And it's become obvious to a great number of people, but that's not happening. And the number of people who are deniers of that reality are dwindling.

Christopher Mitchell: Well, the thing that I find really interesting, and I don't know how much of this you saw, but I'm sure you've heard stories, even if you didn't see it yourself. It used to be that it seemed like AT&T owned the legislature. You know what I mean? People often associate AT&T more with ruling Republican led legislatures. You think about Marsha Blackburn who is surgically grafted onto AT&T. But in California for a long time, AT&T was very popular with the Democrats. They basically got what they wanted, and lately it seems like that's changed quite a bit.

Ernesto Falcon: It's changing but it's taking an extraordinary amount of grassroots work to make that happen. I think the industry really led by AT&T in Sacramento do get a lot of what they want because the amount of money they give the California Democratic party is fairly prolific and the number of relationships that are built from that are pretty pervasive.

Ernesto Falcon: And quite frankly, the ignorance of an handful of legislators, I would say a great number of them, of this industry is not really leading us to the bright future they keep promising. Kind of hand in hand, in terms of the legislative favors and regulatory favors is always this promise of, "You do this for us and we will deploy in your unserved or underserved market." And we're at 2020 now, I remember I had a conversation with a staffer just a week ago about this dynamic. And I said, "By this point I think we're Charlie and the football's been pulled enough times, right?" And the staffer couldn't help but laugh, because it's just undeniable.

Christopher Mitchell: So I want to skip over a lot of the really good work you've done on net neutrality and some other tech issues and focus on some recent developments. The California Advanced Services Fund, I think it might help to just start with a little primmer on what exactly is CASF?


Ernesto Falcon: Certainly. So California is one of the few states that directly finances the infrastructure of broadband or at least high speed internet access. And I'll explain why I make a distinction there in a sec. But we created this program to kind of work in parallel with federal efforts to build out internet access to difficult to serve markets, usually rural, but at times urban and related markets. But the problem has been the program has set its targets so low that it's kind of hamstrung at the moment. And it's kind of particularly noticeable at a time when a vast number of Californians need high speed access, in particular in these rural markets, but we're all ordered to stay at home under COVID-19.

Christopher Mitchell: So right now if I live in rural California and I'm pulling down eight megabits down and one megabit up, or even probably honestly a fraction of that, but it's advertised as being that, then I'm not eligible for the California Advanced Services Funds subsidies to get better networks, right?

Ernesto Falcon: That's right. So the trick is when they originally created CASF, which is the acronym for California Advanced Services Fund, was meant to look at markets that were 6.5 megabits per second down, and I believe 1.5 up. It was actually doing fairly decent work. It was financing fiber in public housing. It was building out a middle mile, open-access fiber networks. It was doing such good work, but it was running out of money. And so the legislature, in order to pass a new financing of the program, it takes a two thirds vote; that's how it's structured there.

Ernesto Falcon: The industry held enough influence to make it hard for a 50% plus one vote to get done. And so a lot of bargains and compromises were struck with particularly with Frontier and AT&T leading the discussions here. On the premise that okay, if you lower the threshold of what is served to six megabits download, one megabit upload, and this is 2017-

Christopher Mitchell: Not ancient history; pretty recent.

Ernesto Falcon: Yeah, this is three years ago when the federal government two years prior said 25-3 was the definition of broadband. Yet companies telling legislators in Sacramento, 6-1 seems good enough. We shouldn't be subsidizing or putting money into neighborhoods that have DSL, basically.


Ernesto Falcon: The trick behind that strategy was effectively to make it impossible for the state to build out high capacity networks. Because lo and behold, when the government did its a data analysis about what areas don't have 6-1, it is very difficult to find areas that are complete deserts of six megabits down, one megabit up. And the trick with CASF and the way they structured it was, if you had a small handful of households in an area with that connectivity, even like an anchor institution like a hospital or a school, then you can't really serve the area, because that area has internet access, therefore it's not worthy of state funding.

Ernesto Falcon: And so the end product of that was in the last bid that put out $360 million of California money to build broadband, only about 30 million of it was applied for. Because there's just not a way to cohesively make a bid under the criteria that the ISP is established.

Christopher Mitchell: Right. I think it may help to illustrate if I just make up some numbers, which I think people accuse me of doing too often. But let's just assume for a second there's 40 million people in California. There might be a million people that don't have that connectivity or 500,000 or whatever it is, but they don't all live next to each other, right? California is also a big place and so you have like 30 people here, 10 people there, and you can't put a business model together on the basis of that.

Ernesto Falcon: That's exactly right, because net networks are meant to be holistic in terms of the deployment. You're casting a net to capture as many of the payers into that net to help finance the construction. But what the data showed is, as EFF looked at the maps of what is a 6-1 and non 6-1 area, it's effectively Swiss cheese. It's a whole bunch of tiny little pockets spread throughout the state and it misses the fact that you probably have areas that have 10-1 that are being excluded, and that's an inferior speed for any of the needs that people have today. And so it's just like a situation where, and not surprised that despite a bunch of money being available for bid, these are grants, so they're covering 50% of the cost. It's a very attractive offer, but no one could really figure out how to financially put together a cohesive package in a Swiss cheese matter. Networks don't operate that way.


Christopher Mitchell: Okay. So that's what has led to CASF actually having extra money right now, although the legislature could always put more money in there to supplement it. What is happening to improve the program in order to make sure that you're actually financing better networks rather than just watching money accrue a small amount of interest?

Ernesto Falcon: Yeah, no. So something that EFF has studied thoroughly in the last handful of years is, what is the 21st century internet look like? What is a universal affordable high speed network that's good for not just now, but the next generation and generations after? And the conclusion is fiber. And fiber-to-the-home in as much and as far as you can go, which quite frankly, we could do a lot if the will and the focus was there.

Ernesto Falcon: Now how do you write quote unquote fiber into a broadband finance program? You really look at projects that should be once built a useful for future upgrades on the cheap, in order to keep up with the increasing demands of internet access. Often a challenge in I think, in policy both federal and state has been, we try to build out what's good right now in terms of internet access and without any sort of recognition of the speed limit that comes with that choice. And that often plays into the hands of the old incumbents who quite frankly, can upgrade their old stuff incrementally on the cheap. And that's attractive but it's also a pretty clear dead end.

Christopher Mitchell: As long as they're writing the laws. I mean, I was comparing, upgrades of DSL. It doesn't really help us get to a higher quality network, because it's a dead end as you just said. It would be like telling someone, "Well just keep upgrading your bike and sooner or later it will turn into a moving van." It doesn't work that way.


Ernesto Falcon: Yep. And especially when someone has already invented the moving van that's cheaper to run and it's getting better by the day. It's just one of those things where communities that don't have next generation high capacity networks being built are in real danger of joining the unserved communities. In the sense of eventually services and applications that we use, like I think COVID-19 story is like Zoom and other video conferencing exploding in usage. You can't do that if you don't have a decent upload and you can't do that if you don't have a decent download. And so suddenly your formerly known as broadband connection has become the dialogue. And none of us willfully use dial up as a means to connect to the internet right now.

Ernesto Falcon: That's the worry EFF has about the lack of access kind of growing as a result of next generation application services that are really beneficial to people to use being out of reach. Because one, you don't have access, even at a minimum, a cable monopoly, what does that mean to society in terms of democratic participation, education and all the other very important values that the government should be prioritizing.

Christopher Mitchell: So let's talk about a bill that you're kind of shepherding in some ways, a bill that a State Senator Gonzalez has put forth, State Bill 1130. What will that do to try to fix the problem you've just been describing?

Ernesto Falcon: Yeah. So Senator Lena Gonzalez and EFF have been working together on the bill that she produced. And the idea behind it is, let's set a minimum standard of 25 megabits down, 25 megabits up, so symmetrical uploads and downloads because people are generating as much content going out now as they are in, with a requirement of low latency, because the capacity to make it near real time interactivity is really important right now.

Ernesto Falcon: And set that as the standard of what is served and unserved. And what that should do is markets that have competition between fiber and cable, markets that would have fairly upgraded fiber coaxial hybrid cable systems, probably would fall above that number on average. And then the markets that are still either with nothing or completely reliant on DSL, would be eligible for an upgrade.


Ernesto Falcon: This would ideally allow a lot of the local governments that have been kind of clamoring at the bit to take a bond down and build out their own infrastructure as well as a handful of small private companies that are eager to kick spam, but they just don't have the vast reservoirs of capital themselves to build out on their own, to help solve this problem of not only the digital divide but, but also what EFF calls the speed chasm between legacy networks and networks backing fiber.

Christopher Mitchell: You mentioned the issue around symmetry that people produce so much more than they used to. I think you said they produce as much as they consume. I can imagine that some people, particularly folks who really believe wisps are the next best step to solve this, which often can be symmetrical, but in rural areas are more often asymmetrical it seems, even though they're higher capacity. They may say, "No, people still download a whole lot more than the upload." And so why would 25 symmetrical be the standard?

Ernesto Falcon: Yeah, the only reason people download more than they upload is because that's what they're being sold. Something I often run into when we talk to policy makers at the federal and state level, when they think about what the future broadband speeds should look like, and I see numbers like, what about 100 down and 20 up? And I paused and I say, "You have to understand the asymmetry has absolutely nothing to do with broadband as a technology and has everything to do with the fact that cable television distribution networks were converted into cable modems and cable networks and cable information networks."

Christopher Mitchell: Now Ernesto, I actually prefer to upload to Dropbox using a much slower connection. I couldn't do it at 100 megabits, but I really like to upload to Dropbox at 20 megabits.


Ernesto Falcon: That's exactly right. And so it's just like it's part of the history of why there's been asymmetry and why the new networks that get built, particularly when they have fiber and plenty of special capacity available, are perfectly able to do symmetrical distribution of information. And that's a preferred route. I mean, at the end, if we want people to be able to start a business at home for example, you need them to be able to communicate with their customers and their followers, if they're like an artist of sorts, in a way that is robust. And there's no reason why the technology doesn't support that. It does, it's just policy sometimes looks too much at what the current industry is doing and without a recognition of what the technology is capable of.

Christopher Mitchell: Well, I would add onto that by noting the cable companies increasingly are going to be able to do symmetrical with upgrades that will cost them money; they'll have to invest in it. But I mean, historically I think we've had asymmetry in policy just to accommodate DSL and to some extent cable. And I don't know how much longer we want to keep doing that.

Ernesto Falcon: Yeah. I mean if policy is doing the right thing in terms of taking a big step back, the point of federal policy has been from the nineties is, is universality, competition, affordability. And if those things are happening, which, which are not in a great many places right now, which means we have to really rethink some of the larger policies here. If they were working, the cable companies would eventually become fiber companies. The wisp would finance eventually into full fledged fiber company as well. Basically everyone would eventually adopt the same type of high capacity networks and try and figure out how to go further and higher and beyond.

Ernesto Falcon: But yeah, exactly right, we're tethered to the legacy, to the past. And the real tragedy in that is the European Union is not doing that, the Chinese are not doing that, the South Koreans, the Japanese are not doing that. All of the other countries that we compete with on a whole host of fronts, have long moved past this kind of dynamic. They're building universal fiber, I mean that's their goals.


Christopher Mitchell: Well, if there's one thing that I can tell you as I sit here in my home interviewing you in your home during business hours, is that we have very good information on what the future will be like. And we should assume there will be no shocks in which suddenly having aiming your two or three megabits will be a significant pull on the economy, because of people trying to work from home while their children are schooling from home, and all kinds of other challenges right now.

Ernesto Falcon: Yep, that's exactly right. One thing I think sometimes media might miss is COVID-19 isn't ... What it's showing us, in terms of the internet access is what the near future looks like. It's not necessarily, this is only the one time blip and it won't be this bad in the future. No, this is what it was heading towards anyway, as we all started moving to remote computing and cloud computing and remote education and things like that. And they're going to be a greater number of have and have nots that have always been there, it's just now it's much more pronounced.

Christopher Mitchell: So let me ask you one other question, which is something that opponents to the bill are definitely raising as well, but we have on the order of hundreds of millions of dollars, if you define the problem in California is being those who don't have 25 symmetrical, that's a multi-billion dollar problem to solve. What happens when the money runs out?

Ernesto Falcon: So I think one, you're absolutely right, in terms of the larger scope of the challenge. Two, the investment is worth it because it'll pay itself off because everyone needs the access, and it's going to be good for well past my lifetime. To them, I say, "Okay, yeah." So you tell me it cost, "Oh, it's going to be two or three or $4 billion. I said, "That's fine. I mean, because at the end of the day, everyone needs this. It's essential to the future. It's essential to this economy and it'll be valued many times the investment within its usable lifetime.

Ernesto Falcon: I think if we don't get more of in the initial dollar amount that's there or as that money starts running out, I suspect what will happen is legislators will see the great benefits that are occurring as a result of the initial investment and it actually won't run out of money. Additional funds will be re-added over time to keep it going until the job is done.


Ernesto Falcon: I think that's just the story of many of these efforts is, once you've launched an initiative of sorts and the government sees this is really doing a lot of good, it's very difficult politically to then say, "Well, okay, I guess we're done. Let's just fold up our chairs now." Everyone sees the value in this.

Christopher Mitchell: Well, I think that's also a reminder of the importance of taking seriously how these programs are structured, making sure the rules are right. Because sometimes people make assumptions that because something is a really good intent, it'll be implemented well. And I think one of the reasons we're having a crisis in government is many of the government programs that have been slandered had been done so unnecessarily. But there have been a number of programs that have been designed not as well, and sometimes because the industry specifically gets in there to try to monkey wrench it.

Christopher Mitchell: We saw this with the stimulus 10 years ago, where the big companies really fought hard to make sure that the money went almost entirely to middle mile. And then years later they said, "Look, we hardly connected any homes. This was a wasted program." And they're like, "Well, you didn't let us connect the homes. Of course we didn't connect many homes."

Ernesto Falcon: Yep. Yep. I remember, I mean, as you know, I was a legislative staff. And I remember Verizon's big argument was, we really have to focus on the middle mile; middle mile is really important. And they're not wrong in that, but it's similar to, so long as you're not building something that disrupts what we want, which is, our monopoly markets where we exist has monopoly or creates what I would say expertise and knowledge from an alternative provider that can a bigger competitor over time. I mean that's kind of the looming threat that all of these companies fear.

Christopher Mitchell: So let's end up with talking about what CASF is doing just to deal with the immediate onslaught right now of trying to make sure people have some sort of connections. I'm on the dockets, I get tons of emails. I haven't had any time to jump in. But what's the argument been about lately?


Ernesto Falcon: So Commissioner Guzman at the CPC, so we have five commissioners of the CPC and Guzman is really a leader on thinking about kind of future networks and what's a 21st century internet look like. And she led an effort to inquire what should CASF do in response to COVID-19. Should there be any changes to the program as a result of the challenges people have? And those challenges really are I think very tethered to remote education. That's probably one of the biggest driving things that are happening here in this state. Because our schools have been closed for almost two months. There's questions of whether we open in the summer to try and make up the time. There's questions of how do we open it all in the fall if this isn't resolved, and the need to ensure every kid can get access to their homework into their teachers is a driving force.

Ernesto Falcon: You have schools trying to give out hotspots as a temporary bandaid, which is really frustrating in that the only reason they have the disc is because the infrastructure's not there. You have the school board association, related to all this, they are putting out a potential ballot measure at the November this year for $2 billion just on connectivity to try and make sure every student could get access to public education.

Ernesto Falcon: The CPC is trying to figure out what to do with CASF as a means to address this. And so EFF commented on this proceeding, because there's on an emergency expedited basis of whatever you do, don't finance networks that are not up to the task of remote education and distance work in social distancing in general.

Ernesto Falcon: There's this New York Times piece that came out and we're seeing more and more data show this, those legacy networks, the DSL networks and even some of the cable network networks are degrading from the increase usage, which is insane in the sense of, okay so everyone is using the internet, they're sold, and now the networks can't actually deliver said products that they're advertised at.

Ernesto Falcon: Whereas on the other end, my understanding is every local government or private company that's doing fiber directly to people has had zero challenge meeting the increased needs. And so, again, part of EFFs effort with the law and the legislation, SB 1130 is to focus on high capacity, future-proof networks. It's just to prevent money to going to slightly upgrading networks that are still not up to the task, even with the state money because it's a waste. It's a monumental waste to to build up something that is not going to be ready and just because we're going to have to replace it anyway with what we should have done from the start.


Christopher Mitchell: And so where is that? Is ready to implement something or is there still ongoing rulemaking? What exactly is happening next, regarding their ability to respond to COVID-19?

Ernesto Falcon: Well, yeah, the California Public Utility Commission, with governance and administrates CASF, they're in a tough spot because they can help on getting devices and access to the equipment, in terms of working with industry and working with the schools and trying to form partnerships. But in terms of direct financing and the infrastructure to solve the problem, they have the statutory limits that the 2017 law that AT&T and Frontier helped draft have placed on them. And so what's ironic and kind of a bitter in this is, you have big companies like Crown Castle for example. It's a multi-billion dollar fiber company saying, "You should be doing a minimum standard of 25-25 for eligible areas, in order to correctly ascertain which areas are insufficiently served for today's needs."

Ernesto Falcon: And lo and behold, the cable companies and telephone companies, the big ones, that is the old ones who helped write that law, and say, absolutely not, you're legally not allowed to do that because that's what the law says. And oh yeah, because that's the law we helped write.

Ernesto Falcon: My hope is we can get State Bill 1130 done this year on an expedited basis, free up the agency to really remedy these harms, and as well as free up the capacity of local governments that are kind of in a war room footing right now to explore their options to build out their own networks. As well as a lot of, I think very good intended small private companies that are trying their best to work with their local communities to figure this out too.

Christopher Mitchell: Well, I hope we get there. Really appreciate the work you're doing. Thanks for taking time today to fill us in.

Ernesto Falcon: Absolutely. Always happy to. I always love listening to the program.

Jess Del Fiacco: That was Christopher talking with Ernesto Falcon, of the Electronic Frontier Foundation. 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. Follow muninetworks.org stories on Twitter. The handle is @muninetworks. Subscribe to this and the other podcasts from ILSR, 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 newsletter at ilsr.org. While you're there, please take a moment to donate. Your support in any amount keeps us going. Thank you to Arne Huseby for the song, Warm Duck Shuffle, licensed through Creative Commons. This was episode 409 of the Community Broadband Bits Podcast. Thanks for listening.