Predictions for 2023 - Episode 535 of the Community Broadband Bits Podcast

Community Broadband Bits

This week on the show, the staff get together to bend their collective imagination to what we expect to see as the biggest news stories of 2023. Returning to join Christopher are Sean Gonsalves, Christine Parker, Emma Gautier, and Ry Marcattilio to discuss the BEAD funding rollout, mapping, the current state of preemption laws, Starry, the FCC, and more. 

Who will be right? Wrong? We'll have to wait until December to find out!

This show is 46 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 (00:08):

Welcome to another episode of the Community Broadband Bits podcast. I'm Christopher Mitchell at the Institute for Local Self-Reliance in St. Paul, Minnesota. And I'm here with the show that you might have thought you were listening to last week because the person who writes the titles for our blog posts kind of blew it. And that person is right here. <laugh> Ryan, mark Tiller. Crockett

Ry Marcattilio-McCracken (00:35):

<laugh>. I did something. What did I do? Well,

Christopher Mitchell (00:38):

I just felt like you, you, I felt like you unleashed the big guns in terms of our predictions show and used it as a title for the Blair Live-in interview, which was wonderful, but was more like just sort of discussion about policy items that happened to be coming up in the calendar year. And in no way was the grand big huge event of our predictions show of of our community broadband networks team.

Ry Marcattilio-McCracken (00:59):

I, I get what you're saying. Well, when it, when it's Blair Levin, I feel like he gets to take precedence. Maybe a little bit <laugh>. I don't know.

Christopher Mitchell (01:05):


Sean Gonsalves (01:06):

Ry went, ri Ry went all 5G on us, huh?

Christopher Mitchell (01:14):

So that was Sean Goss solves there. Or if you if you enjoy some different shows where he shows up, it might be almost Sean Gonzalez, but people mispronouncing your name in a variety of ways as you patiently smile into the camera.

Sean Gonsalves (01:31):

That's right, that's right. you know, Sean G is cool.

Christopher Mitchell (01:34):

I feel like you're very close to being Chanji at a certain point then.

Sean Gonsalves (01:38):


Christopher Mitchell (01:38):

We have Christine Parker, our GIS and, and I was gonna say marketing and data visualization person. I was thinking marketing cuz you were just quoted in the newspaper. That was pretty cool.

Sean Gonsalves (01:50):

Yeah, that was pretty neat.

Christopher Mitchell (01:51):

And we have Emma Gautier and so a little, a little struggling to pronounce it still since December. I, I don't know why, but I don't even closer. I'm struggling.

Sean Gonsalves (02:00):

If you knew that song, man, you would be fine. I

Christopher Mitchell (02:03):

Still what song? I have no idea what you're talking about. <laugh>. I don't even remember that group. I didn't even know the song,

Sean Gonsalves (02:09):

The group, somebody I used to know. You gotta look that song up, and once that song gets stuck in your head, you're be singing it to yourself and you'll never forget how to mis how to pronounce her last name ever again. Allier for the record.

Christopher Mitchell (02:22):

Go. Okay. I'll just, I should just try and remember that and never look at the spelling of it again. Yeah.

Sean Gonsalves (02:29):

How was her last name? Part of this pronounced in mine? Are

Christopher Mitchell (02:31):

You kidding? Yours? It's just a matter of where you put the stress. All the letters show up in the proper, like <laugh> pronunciation.

Sean Gonsalves (02:38):


Christopher Mitchell (02:39):

I feel like the French are just making fun of the rest of us that who use the same alphabet for the most part. so we have predictions that we will be evaluating again in December. And I'm curious who wants to go first with our, our first big prediction? Oh, and I should note that d and Quar I'm sure has great, but this didn't time just didn't work out for her. So we are unfortunately Dean list today, but she remains very much a part of the team. so who wants to raise her hand and, and go First we're each gonna do our boldest prediction. Christine's gonna go first with the most bold, most interesting prediction. Go for it.

Christine Parker (03:18):

Okay. This is more of a, me trying to manifest this into happening. the FCC will improve their public data portal to give folks more control over how they're downloading the data and what formatting. So I'm, I'm putting it out there. I'm hoping it'll happen.

Christopher Mitchell (03:35):

And this is, this is something that the FCC has control over and I, I mean, I've never been to that data portal myself, I don't think so it is not good right now. But you are hoping that the FCC will improve it to make it more useful to researchers.

Christine Parker (03:53):

Absolutely. Yep.

Christopher Mitchell (03:56):

All right. To me, that seems like, I don't know, like, if we're gonna accept that we have to accept the, the dangerous direction that Fortune cookies have taken, where they no longer have fortunes, they just have weird sayings in them.

Ry Marcattilio-McCracken (04:07):

I was talking to somebody the other day about this. How, how did that, when did that happen? How did it happen? When I was a kid?

Christopher Mitchell (04:12):

Yeah. I was on the order like 15 or 20 years. I feel like they just gave up the people writing the messages.

Ry Marcattilio-McCracken (04:17):

These kids theses don't really know what they're missing.

Christopher Mitchell (04:21):

so this is something I support. I would love to see the FCC improve on a number of, of axes, and that would be a good one to give people more access to better data and to specify it better. Who has another prediction? Sean, I'm

Sean Gonsalves (04:37):

Just gonna jump out here and say this one just cuz I can't think of a better one. I usually have bid big, bad, bold predictions. I'm going to say a good one and I'm gonna say it basically. So before you do Gz sh will be confirmed as the fifth commissioner of the fcc

Christopher Mitchell (04:51):

And it will happen this calendar year.

Sean Gonsalves (04:53):

It, it'll happen in, okay, I'll even go bolder. It'll happen by February 28th.

Christopher Mitchell (05:00):

All right. February 20th. I like that because my bet with Travis on the Connect This show is definitely right around that time where at this point I might be at triple or none that they're gonna improve the broadband definition. Pretty sure we're gonna lose that bet again and have to buy Travis wings for life. And but I, I am committed to that as well. I think, I think Gigi will be on the commission at that point. Any, any naysayers that wanna break my heart right now?

Ry Marcattilio-McCracken (05:27):

Well, I think that's probably pretty close. Maybe, maybe end of March would be a a hundred percent Locke, but end of February is pretty good. Is this your leap year? No.

Christopher Mitchell (05:36):

Nope. Not voting for president. We have two people left and then I'll go. So Emma or Rye, which prediction?

Ry Marcattilio-McCracken (05:44):

I'll go ahead. I will say, and this, I don't know if this is I don't know I, my biggest boldest prediction this year is that the usf the USF crumbles into dust in some way or another. And we've got that Is bold deal with the ramifications

Christopher Mitchell (05:57):

Of it? Will it happen? I don't know. So if people aren't familiar they should listen to the Blair Lavin Show from last week in which we, we talk a little bit about that. The, the way that the Universal Service Fund is funded is on shaky territory, and there are courts that are potentially gonna take a run at whether the FCC even can maintain it like that. And I don't know, I think the, the its future is murky. I I guess I would say that that's a bold prediction. Ry Emma mine, I'll take the place of Sean being big, bad negative prediction. I don't think the, a CCP program will reach 50% enrollment and I don't think that the RH grant program will go as, as far as it's intended to in terms of actual impact on the ground. So, sorry, but


I think those are pretty good predictions. I mean, I think that 50% is that would be too bad. and I think, I think you're right. I, when I look at how the A C p grant opportunity to spread awareness about the program and get people signed up, to me it looked like a hassle. We know stories of lots of folks that we would've thought that would be good candidates to get that money didn't even go for it because it just looks so convoluted and complicated. on the other hand, we know of a few folks who did go for it and suffered through that application and certainly hope that that works out. But yeah, I think that's a, that's a very good prediction. I mean, I feel like, like if we said it wasn't gonna be 75%, it's like, well, duh, of course it's not gonna be 75%, but 50 percent's a good number to, to bet on

Sean Gonsalves (07:35):

Pressure's on, man. Cuz I, I gotta say, I think all four of these predictions are pretty good.

Christopher Mitchell (07:40):

All right. So my prediction is gonna be, I mean, we'll see about this. I feel like this year is going to be wild in terms of, of things changing that we would not expect. I think it's entirely possible that we see an unprecedented level of layoffs of tech people in in the tech sector. and, and I, and I think we're just gonna see massive disruption from chat D G P T. I think we might see significant layoffs from call centers from the big telecoms mm-hmm. <affirmative>. But I think that the biggest events that happened in 2022 came at us right at the end where we learned about chat G P T. you know, we're, we're learning new things on a daily basis right now about what it's capable of, but the ability of it to write code and frankly, the inability of most people who work in programming to write good code <laugh>, I think I just feel like there's so much that's about to change and I am super excited about it.


And I think if we if we go back for a second, the reason I'm excited about it is when the free and open source software movement launched, and they would hate me including that open source name in it. But nonetheless the idea was that people would learn how to program and they would be programming software that would really fit their local needs, but it was always too complicated. And now that is changing. I think the ability of like Sean to be like, I want to do this thing on my computer, and just for him to work through chat G P T to get that working, I, I don't think he's there in January, but I think in December he might be there. And I say that as a guy who loves tech. Really?

Sean Gonsalves (09:15):


Christopher Mitchell (09:16):

Sean loves doing stuff on his computer. <laugh>,

Sean Gonsalves (09:18):

<laugh> chat chat. G P T scares the B scares me.

Christopher Mitchell (09:26):

I think, I think we see Christi, I think Christine is like just doing is just like this. We're like, wait, did Christine clone herself? How is she so productive? I think over the course of this year, like the ability of someone like Christine to like use chat G P T for like scripting solutions and all kinds of things like that, I, I'm, I'm fascinated at how this is gonna result in short-term changes to say nothing of long-term changes.

Christine Parker (09:50):

Yeah. I'm excited to try it out and see, see how I can use it to establish new workflows and stuff like that.

Christopher Mitchell (09:56):

So I knew before that the FCC had not put out a lot of a CCP materials in Spanish, and I learned today they never actually went back and fixed it right to say nothing of the many other languages that are commonly spoken by people who are qualify for acp at the end of 2023, if local governments, state governments in the federal government don't have things available in just about every language simultaneously all the time, we're doing something wrong. Mm-hmm. <affirmative>. And that's sort of, this is like the nature of my prediction, right? Like, there's no excuse for that. There's no excuse that is not out in Spanish right now from the fcc. That's absurd. But the ability of governments to be using this in interesting ways I I just think it's gonna be remarkable.

Emma Gautier (10:37):

I'm just curious what Sean thinks the future of Mastodon is our mastodon hero. I know, it's really

Sean Gonsalves (10:44):

That's right. I'm glad, glad, I'm glad that you brought that up because you can call me Sean g or you can call me MastoSean cuz I am all over that


I I love it. It's so warm and welcoming. There's a lot more engagement. Although I have seen that it's sort of plateaued, I think, in terms of engagement at this point after what they call the great migration. Has

Christopher Mitchell (11:09):

That been your personal experience or that what you that's what you've seen in analysis?

Sean Gonsalves (11:12):

That, that has not been my personal experience, but I've seen some analysis about that, which could very well just be, I don't know if that's the right word, legacy sort of media outlets and p people that want everybody to stay on Twitter to think that, you know, Macedon has kind of, you know, peaked and plateaued. I I think it hasn't. you know, there's all kinds of, there's just so many interesting things going on in there and, and the quality of kind of the the interactions and the way it works. I, I just find it far superior to any experience I've had on any of the other platforms. So no, I think Macedon will continue to grow and they'll make some changes. You know, there's a, there's a debate going on about whether or not they need to, you know, have a re reboost or a quote toot function like, like a quote, like quote tweets and things of that nature. I

Christopher Mitchell (12:04):

Wish people could see Emma's enjoyment at you saying that.

Sean Gonsalves (12:07):

Yeah, yeah, yeah. How do you

Emma Gautier (12:08):

Talk about this too? It's not the first time I'm hearing and I just really Yeah. Get to get outta the toot. Yeah,

Christopher Mitchell (12:14):

I, so there's a couple of things I saw about that, and one of them was noting how many times Twitter was declared dead because like 85% of their users are inactive or don't right post and this and that. I, I could see continued engagement on Mastodon. I would have liked to have seen more growth. And today I had a feeling that some people might react to in horror. I I think that people's antipathy to advertisements is misplaced, and I wish Mastodon had a mechanism for doing some kind of advertisements, not as crazy or overwhelming as some of the other social media, but the ability of firms, of nonprofits, of people to just promote ideas unexpectedly to new audiences. I think there's a value there. And, and I'll say, you know, I mean, I feel like we don't like seeing the big billboards everywhere, but if you're a small business, like, I don't know how you gave the word out without advertising for different things, you know, so advertising has a role in our, in our lives and I worry a little bit about Mastodon if it's not gonna be able to, to do that at all.

Sean Gonsalves (13:19):

Yes. Yeah. It's a, it's an interesting time over there though, just a lot of energy. and like, as I said, the, the, the, the engagement, I've made some really cool connections on there already. and so we shall see. But I think it'll be, I I think it'll be, you know, a continued growth over there with some changes, I think, I think. But generally speaking, if for more, even more folks to come, I do think pro it probably has to be, be seen as more inviting and a little bit easier to kind of navigate when you first come. but you know, there's no shortage of really smart people that are administering a lot of the instances of what they call, you know, what they call them in the Yeah. I found there,

Christopher Mitchell (14:05):

I found serendipity hard to just find stuff like sure, like if you're looking for a broadband or telecom keyword or something, all right. But just there's more ins serendipity around Twitter in my experience. although there's far less, that's just awful on Mastodon, so that's nice. Yeah.

Ry Marcattilio-McCracken (14:25):

So Sean, then is Mastodon stronger at the end of 2023 than it is now? Is it has it overtaken Twitter? What's, are you gonna put your money where Oh,

Sean Gonsalves (14:33):

No, no. It, it, it will not, no, it won't overtake Twitter. It'll be definitely a lot stronger. but I think right now there's something around 10 million or so users on Mastodon with, you know, maybe several thousand accounts being added per day or something, something of that nature. But that might be

Christopher Mitchell (14:49):

A little bit more like that be a little bit of an overestimate, I think.

Sean Gonsalves (14:53):

Yeah. But nine, 10 million users right now, I mean, that's probably like what, 0.1% of who's on of, of the accounts on Twitter, so no, it, it won't even come close to taking over Twitter. But but there's been, but, but there have been a lot of pretty high profile journalists that have migrated over.

Christopher Mitchell (15:10):

So, and I just, I think the fe averse, frankly, which is like the universe of these of Mo Maidan and then other services like that. I just gotta think, I don't know that 2023 will be the year, but with chat G P T I think we're gonna see more and more tools that are gonna make it easier for people using common English to jump in and, and do interesting things themselves. I don't know that it's gonna stick around forever like this, but I feel like we go through these cycles and I think chat G B T is gonna lead to a cycle in which we are gonna have more decentralized tools, and it's gonna be imaginative, is gonna be a Renaissance. and the only thing that I question is whether the electric grid will shut down or whether the hacker's ability to use chat G P T and, and AI to attack things will increase faster than defenses.


But it's gonna be wild. There's gonna be more tools and, and I think the the hostels are gonna be much power, more powerful too. so I mean, like this whole thing with like last pass vaults being stolen and finding out how incredibly poor some of those security was on that. Yeah. is is just the beginning of, of what's gonna be an even harder time for people and, you know just different people sharing getting information stolen and that information being out there and all of us trying to decide that, you know, if we still want to hang out with Sean after we see pictures of him you know, in furry costumes and things like that.

Sean Gonsalves (16:40):

Right. <laugh>, and we can't, we can't close out talking about this topic without shameless plugs at Sean Allen. is how you find me on Macedon. And Muni Networks has its own account as well. Muni networks at Tech Hub do social, so,

Christopher Mitchell (16:54):

And I'm, I'm find I'm Community Nets at Community Nets at Fason, I believe. yes. Something along those lines. Maybe

Christine Parker (17:03):

I forgot mine. I think I'm also at Tech Hub

Christopher Mitchell (17:05):

<laugh>. Christine, let's go through some of your other predictions. What other predictions do you have for us?

Christine Parker (17:10):

my other one was kind of a more we'll find out pretty soon kind of prediction is that we will not see an extension to the challenge process or like the allocation deadline.

Christopher Mitchell (17:23):

The FCC will not allow more time for its charade of challenges Correct. Smoke screen. yes, I, I'm just really hopeful that the, it comes to light, whether this was a real challenge process or not it looks to me like there's a lot to think that this was just for show, it wasn't taken seriously. I'm hoping that we can collect more statistics and others will be about what's going on and what logic the FCC uses in rejecting many of the location requests that have been put in because we've heard some horror stories. I just don't know if it's, if it's the common or the uncommon from the FCC right now.

Ry Marcattilio-McCracken (18:04):

Yeah. Folks should know by the time the show comes out, right? Because the deadline is tomorrow

Christopher Mitchell (18:09):


Ry Marcattilio-McCracken (18:09):

As we record mm-hmm.

Christopher Mitchell (18:10):

<affirmative>. That's right. So mm-hmm. <affirmative> and I, I'll just say something I've been telling people, I think if Ajit Pai was running the FCC right now, I think that people would be up in arms and, and screaming about it. I think a lot of our allies would've issued press release after press release. And I think this FCC is is getting by with doing a, a really poor job, not just of struggling with a difficult two, two commission, but actually engaging in dishonest claims about what the challenge processes were particularly around the location challenges and when those had to be in to change the beat allocations. So I just, I'm deeply disappointed,

Ry Marcattilio-McCracken (18:49):

Chris. They've been busy. They created a space bureau. they've had their hands full doing all the other important work out there in the world, let alone,

Christopher Mitchell (18:56):

I mean, totally is they do. The thing is, I, I feel bad, like there's so many people at the FCC who I think are doing a great job, and I hate just lagging on the FCC as a whole with, I don't know, probably what, 10,000, a hundred thousand employees like, somewhere between there. I don't know other people who are more serious about no. Understanding how DC works would know that. But there's a lot of people doing good work, and frankly, many of the commissioners, you know, are trying to do some good things. But I, I just, I don't understand how it's 2023 and the FCC has no idea how to deal with broadband. It's embarrassing. Sean, let's come to you.

Sean Gonsalves (19:31):

I predict that fixed wireless, and particularly Verizon and T-Mobile's Home Mobile home internet service will grow in leaps and bounds, and the cable companies will continue to freak out and will start advertising the coming of dous 4.0 and how that will revolutionize home internet access.

Christopher Mitchell (19:54):

So leaps and bounds, let's define what that means. I think they're in right, they're in low single digits penetration right now in terms of like, I think it's on the order of three or 4 million people have fixed wireless for their home service from Verizon or T-Mobile, I think is probably rise nodding. I think that's roughly where the numbers are. analysts suggest that it might hit seven or 8 million. Do you think it's gonna surpass that? I don't think, I don't even think that's, even this year, they don't think that yeah. You know, let's go bold. Let's say it's, it's 9 million and fun fact, I just came across the fccs report that T-Mobile actually has the biggest broad broadband footprint in the country of all of the, the big telecom company. Not, not the most subscribers, but just in terms of their coverage.


so it's a, it's a, it's a good bold prediction. I I will note that charter has told investors that they are massively speeding up their CapEx. There had been talk about them doing doxy symmetrical, which are that's not even what they call it anymore, necessarily. I forget what it is. but doing the upgrades in the very near future looking at over the next three or four years, I believe, to getting most of their footprint up to that this is kind of what I was expecting. And I'm sure Comcast is probably even gonna do it faster than that. So some of that is happening already, I think I'm not sure if it's entirely because of the fixed wireless or because of all the fiber that's being built, but but I think some of that is kind of heading in that direction. But for the record, I think you're gonna come, I, I'd be shocked. I would be surprised if we have 5 million fixed wireless subscribers on Verizon and T-Mobile by the end of the year. So I'm gonna be, I'm gonna take this short on that <laugh>,

Ry Marcattilio-McCracken (21:42):

You know, one of my related predictions, I was gonna, I was gonna see what you guys thought about this is so we know that Starry fixed internet is in, is in some trouble. they were considering their options at the end of last year. you know, it's, they've got a decent, they've got some variety of assets for both physical assets and some spectrum stuff. does T-Mobile buy stari? I mean, we're not talking about a ton of subscribers here, 50, 60,000, 70,000 subscribers, but I think

Christopher Mitchell (22:08):

It's like 80,000 or was, I think it's 80 mm-hmm. <affirmative> as of this second. They're trading at three and a half cents per share.

Ry Marcattilio-McCracken (22:15):

<laugh> <laugh>, that's down from their i p o of 10 bucks.

Christopher Mitchell (22:19):

I don't, I don't, I didn't actually track it very much back then, but it's it's definitely,

Sean Gonsalves (22:24):

So you're saying, so, so in the Wolf of Wall Street, they'd be getting sold on the pink sheet, whatever they call those things. Yeah,

Christopher Mitchell (22:31):

It's I mean, penny stocks, I have no idea who's who's likely to pick it up, but I'm, I'm curious to see mm-hmm.

Ry Marcattilio-McCracken (22:37):

<affirmative>. Yeah, I dunno either, but I assume we'll see sooner rather than later.

Christopher Mitchell (22:41):

Yeah, I would think so. I frankly would've expected it before now. So same. Very curious.

Ry Marcattilio-McCracken (22:47):

Yeah, they voluntarily defaulted on all of their ado awards back in the middle part of the fall as kind of a prelude to this and laid off a whole bunch of staff and and now it's just kind of been radio silence for the last two months.

Christopher Mitchell (23:00):

Yeah. Carl Botie wrote a story about summarizing some of this stuff where we've seen these high profile wireless flame outs. And and I think it's good that we published it. I was the one that actually, I mean, to be candid, like I thought that this would be a good story, and I asked that we would pursue it. I'm more nervous about it because there are fixed wireless companies that are doing well. but I feel like it is worth noting that a lot of the hype has blown up in terms of what they said they were gonna be doing. They pivoted you know, they spent I can't even, I'm, I'm assuming the hundreds of millions of dollars to end up with like 80,000 subscribers or something like that and split across a bunch of different states. you know, and at the same time, one of the companies that didn't make it into that story was common in the Bay Area, which also was super bold and then just kind of disappeared and gave their network, which was in sort of a sad state to sold it to Monkey Brains, I believe.


And Monkey Brains kind of tried to patch it up and I think even took a hit to their reputation as they were doing. So I do think, I think some of the shine is, is coming off of some of the wireless claims. you know, wireless technology is getting better, but I feel like the hype is getting, is becoming even more detached from reality due to the pressure of trying to get access to federal funds. when I hear people talking about like, how, oh, no, wireless can totally do like gigabit symmetrical to the residents now, and it's like, yeah, maybe like one home, but not all of them in a given area. It's certainly not in a very rural area where we don't have line of sight. But some of the boosters are just really out ahead of their skis, I think, on this.

Ry Marcattilio-McCracken (24:37):

Yeah, it's a little bit of a shame too because I feel like if, if, if folks just focused on the things that matter, so I, you know, I've got some friends who live out in the Boston area. They've got <inaudible> for either their home or their business, and they're just excited to pay 50 bucks or 55 bucks a month for, and, and, you know, they rarely know what speed they have but probably, you know, 50 megabits symmetrical or something.

Christopher Mitchell (25:00):

I was the resident's in the hundreds of megabits. You got net blazer out there, which you know, is similar, but run by company, by folks that I've known. I've no longer, and I mean, I'm partial to them, but it seems like they're delivering hundreds of megabits wirelessly, you know for a similar price point.

Ry Marcattilio-McCracken (25:15):

So it seems like a missed opportunity to talk about cost instead of trying to match even the cable providers on, on speeds. that there's a, yeah. Well, and that's

Christopher Mitchell (25:24):

Why I keep saying, I think the, the wireless, I don't, I don't know this in 2023, but I think the future of wireless is not that rural carrier of last resort. It is providing competition in areas where often there might be a cable or a fiber monopoly that's not holding up the ability of people to build a small scale network to compete. I think that's gonna be a really great role for wireless moving forward. Mm-hmm.

Sean Gonsalves (25:46):

<affirmative>. Mm-hmm. <affirmative>, I will say that Karl's story did get some really good engagement on Macedon and on LinkedIn with some really good comment commentary actually <laugh> from, from some pro wireless folks. Oh, I

Christopher Mitchell (25:56):

Didn't even see that. You should, you should. so that's the, that's the thing that I'm missing that I feel like I don't have a good way of getting.

Christine Parker (26:02):

I was just gonna ask if there was anything unique about Starry's business model. Like were they primarily doing MDUs or was it just like a

Christopher Mitchell (26:09):

Traditional single family home, high speed, you know low cost access mm-hmm. <affirmative> and run by a person, by, by all accounts was good in business and an amazing engineer. And I think they just, it's the same thing that I said about Google Fiber back in the day when they crashed and burned. You, you, you have this thing that works well and you think, all right, well, we're doing it well in this city. Why don't we do it in 30 states next year? <laugh>, it's like, that's not a good po it's not a good idea, you know? you gotta grow more organically. And and without this idea, and this is where, I mean, this is my criticism of the, of the private equity buying all the fiber companies, is they all wanna turn 'em into Starry, right? Like, they want to, they're like, oh, this company's doing great. Like, what if we, what if we gave it 10 x the capital? Well, probably it's not gonna achieve 10 x the returns. instead it's gonna half, like more than half of them are gonna crash and burn through the pressure of trying to figure out how to ramp up at that speed. I think,

Ry Marcattilio-McCracken (27:04):

Yeah, I think Starry's problem was they, when they went public, they needed a huge infusion of cash and they ended up getting a lot, but not nearly as much as they had hoped or needed to sustain the growth that Chris is talking about. So whether that's something that you could translate across the whole fixed wireless market, or, you know, we're talking about apples and oranges here a little bit.

Christopher Mitchell (27:22):

Sean, did you have any others?

Sean Gonsalves (27:24):

You know, let's continue with the bold. Let's say 12 cities will commence a municipal fiber to the home project this year.

Christopher Mitchell (27:35):

obviously I think you're not breaking ground, but you mean committing to it in a serious way?

Sean Gonsalves (27:40):

Committing to it in a meaning. Yes. Yeah. Yeah. Not, not just, you know, doing a feasibility study or having meetings about it, but, but moving forward with financing and 12 and

Ry Marcattilio-McCracken (27:53):

Yes, I think that's I think you're on the low end there, my friend.

Christopher Mitchell (27:56):

I do too, so, okay. When are you going with

Ry Marcattilio-McCracken (27:57):

Ray? I'll come up, I'll come up way over the top of you. it just so happens that right now I'm doing a whole bunch of stress test data entry stuff for our new municipal community network database software platform. And I'm going to say, oh, man I wasn't prepared for this. I'll say, I'll say 40. whoa. I'll say 40. I'll say 40. I

Christopher Mitchell (28:20):

Had 20 written down.

Ry Marcattilio-McCracken (28:23):

I'm gonna say 33

Sean Gonsalves (28:25):

<laugh>. All right,

Ry Marcattilio-McCracken (28:27):

Emma, number price is right as I come at 39 or something like that. <laugh> 23.

Christopher Mitchell (28:33):

All right. Well, I feel like I, I, I, I probably have the worst prediction there.

Ry Marcattilio-McCracken (28:38):

Sean was 12, Chris is 20. Christine's 33.

Christopher Mitchell (28:42):


Ry Marcattilio-McCracken (28:42):

40. Emma what? Emma's 23. Okay, man. I'm 40.

Christopher Mitchell (28:45):


Ry Marcattilio-McCracken (28:46):

We'll see.

Sean Gonsalves (28:48):

I hope you're right, Ry. I hope you are right. but wow. That's any

Christopher Mitchell (28:53):

Last prediction, Sean?

Sean Gonsalves (28:54):

Really? Here's a bold one. Our new website will be unveiled in the beginning of this year. All right. Muni networks.

Christopher Mitchell (29:01):

Yeah. For people that, no, no, I when I was working on this, I I'd hoped it would be unveiled in January 12 months ago. So <laugh> I congratulate Ry and Sean for picking it up and moving it what appears to be over the goal line finally. But I did not get it done.

Sean Gonsalves (29:18):

No congratulate Ry and just thank me for not sinking the whole thing along the way.

Christopher Mitchell (29:24):

Well, Sean Ry, I'm glad you were able to still smile about it despite tagging along, apparently a self-admitted boat anchor here on the screen with you.

Ry Marcattilio-McCracken (29:32):

<laugh> <laugh>. Yep. It's you know, it's been a fun process. I look forward to never ever doing it again.

Christopher Mitchell (29:42):

Yeah. So for people who are curious, we, we are making the jump from I believe Ruple eight, Toru 10 and that Ruple eight, Toru nine jump is a significant one. And I am perhaps unreasonably committed to preserving old content and stuff like that, and and really understanding why other people let that go when you look at the costs. But but we're, we think it's important to maintain this content for the history. and so we are we kept it around and I think we've pulled it off.

Sean Gonsalves (30:16):

I wanted to make that prediction because I appreciate salespeople, but on LinkedIn my inbox gets blown up often with sales pitches from folks that wanna offer to build us a new website. And we're, we're, we're good. So spread the word rye predictions,

Ry Marcattilio-McCracken (30:35):

Maybe not that bold to say. We're not going to see a new basic broadband definition this year. Fccs gonna be busy with, well, they will be, my air quotes here, busy with satellite stuff or spectrum stuff. They'll be busy with map stuff, especially, I think the second half of their year is gonna get blown up by map stuff. they'll be busy with digital discrimination. So I think I think even though now is a prime time to do it, we won't see an upgrade to that basic broadband definition.

Christopher Mitchell (31:03):

I think that before June we'll see it upgraded to 100 by 20, and I think it'll be fairly quiet and not controversial.

Ry Marcattilio-McCracken (31:11):

Interesting. You think so it'll just be like a, an issuance out of the

Christopher Mitchell (31:15):

FCC, basically.

Ry Marcattilio-McCracken (31:16):

Hmm hmm. Which would say something, right? Since we've gone how many? Seven, it'll be eight years since the LA latest. Well,

Christopher Mitchell (31:23):

I think, I think, I think the folks who might ordinarily oppose it will just be happy. It stays there when I think, didn't we just see is in Britain where there's a presumed right now at a hundred hundred megabit per second and

Ry Marcattilio-McCracken (31:33):

Take a bit to every new household, single premises construction

Sean Gonsalves (31:36):

Bit? Yep.

Christopher Mitchell (31:37):

Yeah, and I mean, I just we were, I recorded a conversation with with Rudolph Vandenberg who tracks this in and does a lot of great analysis in Europe now that show's gonna run after this one. And and I was just blown away kind of at how ambitious and how far ahead many of the European countries are fr to us, even in rural areas. my sense had long bend that Europe you know, had some areas where the rural areas were left behind, and that's still the case. It's one of the things that I found very interesting is the great variance across Europe. but it's clear that we're falling further behind than I thought we were, than Europe.

Sean Gonsalves (32:16):

I have one more prediction. I predict that the, that even this particular crazy Congress is going to pass a bill that I think was submitted in the beginning of the year to exempt broadband grants give them tax exempt

Christopher Mitchell (32:34):

Status. I don't think it's happening. I hope it does, but I don't think they're gonna do it.

Ry Marcattilio-McCracken (32:38):

I'm with Chris on this one. I think

Christopher Mitchell (32:40):

Emma predictions.

Emma Gautier (32:42):

yeah, I have a couple of data ones. I think in terms of the broadband label, I think we'll see providers start to use it. but I think that it's not gonna be easy to find or available at all for all providers. I think enforcement will be weak, which I think is something I said last year. the most ISPs have six months after the rule is finalized to publish it. Small ISPs have 12 months. I don't think, I don't know how to measure this, but I don't think small ISPs are gonna need that much extra time to do, to publish that. And then the a c p data is also coming down the pipeline. and I think that data will be helpful. Maybe we, it's something we can add to the dashboard. I don't know. I have to talk to the team, but I think it's not gonna be super granular.


that's a pretty safe prediction because provider privacy concerns have already been voiced. but I think it'll be interesting, but not super, super relevant. And things like whether a customer is, like, whether the a c p benefit is being used for a first time subscription, which would be super useful to know cuz we could determine if the program is actually helping people get signed up for the first time. that data, it looks like it's not gonna be collected in this round of, or in this particular instance of data collection. So those are all kind of safe. But yeah,

Ry Marcattilio-McCracken (34:22):

I can't believe you just used the word dashboard security in this, in this zoom room.

Emma Gautier (34:27):

It had to come up at some point.

Christopher Mitchell (34:30):

<laugh>, I did see the, the Adolph dashboard getting some, some love on the socials rye. I assume that you put out the, a post about the latest data dump.

Ry Marcattilio-McCracken (34:39):

I did, I took credit for it even though Christine did all the work, which is the way I like to do things. So our ad off dashboard has now been updated no new authorized funds going out in the last month or so since middle of December. But we're at 91% of that first round of ad off being dispersed or defaulted on. So, you know, we're getting close to the end there.

Christopher Mitchell (35:02):

regarding the, the broadband labels, I will be curious to see if that changes at all with three, two commission if they come back to it, if they're just gonna be scrambling to try and do some things. the fact that they have like one year left, basically obviously there will be additional time well could be. but traditionally this is the year where the year after an election is where you'd expect the FC to do most of its work. I I think that one municipal preemption will be weakened. I say that because I'm not even sure that fall last year we didn't have any changes in municipal preemptive laws to stop cities from being able to build their own networks or partner. the year before that we had two, which was a real shock and first time we'd seen that happen. but I, I think that this year we could see that, I mean, there's already been a bill introduced in Nebraska to weaken their they're very strong language stopping cities from solving their own problems.

Ry Marcattilio-McCracken (36:02):

So, Chris, I have you at 16 by the end of 2023.

Sean Gonsalves (36:04):

I don't know if this is allowed. I like that we revisit this the state preemption. I'm gonna say that three states don't get rid of them, but they pass laws that weaken them.

Christopher Mitchell (36:17):

Yeah. And technically that's what I'd said, rise. So 16 or 17 would work for me, but I think, I think that's the right language, Sean.

Sean Gonsalves (36:24):

So in other words, I don't think, I think the number will remain 17. It's just that I think in three states they'll, they'll, they'll be tweaked in such a way that will gi give, give local communities a little bit more latitude.

Ry Marcattilio-McCracken (36:38):

Christine, I'm

Christine Parker (36:39):

Gonna say two.

Christopher Mitchell (36:40):

Two. Emma, you don't have to pick a unique number. You could just agree with me.

Sean Gonsalves (36:44):

<laugh>. Yeah.

Emma Gautier (36:46):

I'll agree with you. Chris.

Christopher Mitchell (36:48):

<laugh>, you can't agree with Christine or Sean? Only me. <laugh>.

Sean Gonsalves (36:52):


Emma Gautier (36:54):

I'll take the path of least.

Christopher Mitchell (36:55):

Yeah, pick an unreasonable number or go with your boss. <laugh>. <laugh>.

Sean Gonsalves (37:01):


Christopher Mitchell (37:01):


Ry Marcattilio-McCracken (37:02):

I'll go, I'll go a little stronger. I this this kind of you know, weakened the laws, but the, those laws will still be there. It seems like a little bit of a having your cake and eating it too kind of thing. I'm gonna say, I'm gonna say our number at the end of 2023, you guys are all saying the number will be 17 still, but we'll see some movement. I think our number will be 15 at the end of this year.

Sean Gonsalves (37:22):

Whoa. I

Ry Marcattilio-McCracken (37:22):

Think we'll see some, I think we're gonna see more movement in 2024 as the bead money actually starts to flow and states are woken up to the fact that some of these laws are still on the books and localities begin to yell louder and louder for solutions to problems that have existed for a long time. But I think we'll see two two drop off the list this year.

Sean Gonsalves (37:44):

Right. Must must have had some energy drinks before this before we, before this podcast. Cuz he's been, he's bold all the way through. Boy,

Ry Marcattilio-McCracken (37:50):

This is the new ride. 2023. I, I grew mustache. And I

Sean Gonsalves (37:53):

Was just about to say, I was, I was wondering if, should we, we, should we make a prediction about whether or not you were gonna lose mustache or keep it or, you know, that's

Ry Marcattilio-McCracken (38:00):

A good question. You'd have to ask my wife. I think.

Christopher Mitchell (38:02):

Well, by the end of the year we won't be able hear his voice. It'll just be muffled by the stash. my last prediction is somewhat vague. and, and you all, can I throw myself on the mercy of your court as to whether or not it's sufficient? at least two major disasters with states in broadband where the state broadband office just blows up or there's a major scandal. or just something real ugly around how the states are handling it or super embarrassing.

Christine Parker (38:32):

I was thinking about this too, especially in terms of like the, the plants that they have to put together for, for bead thinking. Maybe like they would ask for big extensions or something.

Ry Marcattilio-McCracken (38:45):

Yeah. I'm curious what, what an example of an scandal. A scandal would be, Chris or a big blowup. I was saying like Minnesota says, you know what, we just don't wanna deal with this charter. You get all of our mar all of our money. Cause I think some people wouldn't consider that all that bad.

Christopher Mitchell (38:57):

And then first of all, probably not allowed by N T I A, but but I think, and then, and then basically there're being like a clear example of quid pro quo corruption around that.

Ry Marcattilio-McCracken (39:07):

Okay. Interesting.

Christopher Mitchell (39:09):

I mean, we, we do have a, not, not so far back in the history, it was at and t was caught bribing someone in, you know, it was like all, oh no, we don't do that regularly. I mean, our, our system makes legalized bribery easy enough. I don't know why you would necessarily go back to bags of cash. <laugh> seems a little bit unnecessary, but but I, I think and that, and similarly like, like a state just, you know, basically being like we, like we lost all the people we had that were trying to do it. I think we've seen indications of this, the amount of money that is available in the private sector for people that have these skills, the limited amount of money in the public sector to do this. And then the stress of trying to comply with all of these rules and holding everything together while you are being attacked by lobbyists, after lobbyists for different interests. <laugh> mm-hmm. <affirmative> it's not an attractive job. And I don't know if that we have enough people to fill those roles who just recognize the importance of this, of generational investment and wanna, you know, wanna suffer through it.

Ry Marcattilio-McCracken (40:09):

Well, that's interesting. They get till 2026 to spend all that money. Does that, do I have that right?

Christopher Mitchell (40:15):

Well, for bead I think it has to be committed, right? So it has to be the sub-grantees who are the states will have to like, get that out the door. But a but a, you know, if like if a city or a private company gets that money, they would have longer to actually finish, right. Spending that money on the equipment and labor and stuff like that.

Ry Marcattilio-McCracken (40:35):

Right. Okay. So what you're saying is that the the dearth of broadband policy and grant literacy talent at the state off broadband office level is gonna persist for at least another two years.

Christopher Mitchell (40:47):

I think that's gonna be true. I mean, I think it'll get a little bit better over time, but I think in this year, you know, we might see like an entire broadband office, like basically get a vote of no confidence by its employees who all leave <laugh>, you know? Yeah. Or something, something significant like that where the, the office is just not able to operate at that point. Or

Christine Parker (41:04):

Cost quests, license scandal.

Christopher Mitchell (41:06):

Oh boy. I'll tell you, if we could, if we could understand exactly what happened with the FCC and cost quests, I feel like that would be a scandal If if it wasn't just all hidden behind contracts and stuff, that would be my

Ry Marcattilio-McCracken (41:15):

Prediction. Geez. If we could get a somebody to send the right license to us so we could sign it and get access to the fabric, that would be fantastic. It's a bad,

Christopher Mitchell (41:23):

Quite, Christine, do we have access to it yet? We've signed the, signed the paperwork right. To, to have access to the fabric. But

Ry Marcattilio-McCracken (41:30):

We don't, we don't have access to the fabric yet because of the minutiae of setting the licenses back and forth. But the process of getting access and signing the license, which should be relatively straightforward, has, is absolutely not.

Christopher Mitchell (41:42):

So that's where I, cause I one of our allies was like asking around like, has anyone actually completed this and gotten the access to the fabric? And I was like, I was like, oh, I think we did. Only it turned out that we had just signed the papers and nothing had actually happened yet. <laugh>. So it was a status, I guess everyone else has. So yeah,

Sean Gonsalves (42:01):

You said, you, you said, I, I like where you're going with this. You said two states with scandals. I

Christopher Mitchell (42:07):

I said two scandals.

Sean Gonsalves (42:08):


Christopher Mitchell (42:09):

Scandals, major disasters is how I phrased it.

Sean Gonsalves (42:11):

Oh, two major disasters could be in the same state.

Christopher Mitchell (42:13):

Could be, yeah. Okay. Illinois could low twice. And I just,

Sean Gonsalves (42:16):

On my friend

Christopher Mitchell (42:17):

Matt, who's the head of the,

Sean Gonsalves (42:18):

Ok, so not so much states, but, but number, number of, of scandals of, of, of, of that order. This is America, man, there's 50 states. It could

Christopher Mitchell (42:24):

Be like Puerto Rico could be one. I mean, like, it could

Sean Gonsalves (42:26):

Be right. Not just states. Well, this is what I'm trying to say. This, this is America. There's 50 states, only two scandals. You're, you're way low balling it. Way low

Christopher Mitchell (42:34):

Ball. I think I might be. And that's where you could tell me that'd be like, dude, like there's gonna be 10 and you know, we can, we can talk about this.

Sean Gonsalves (42:41):

I'll, I'll put it at six. And then as a little footnote, the good, the silver lining will be that as it relates to state broadband offices, that two states will put some kind of law on the book to discourage bad challenges. Similar to what? Colorado.

Christopher Mitchell (43:00):

Oh, I would love to see that. Yeah. let's say one of the, one of the ways that we would know if it is a major disaster is if non-tech press covers it. Right? That's one of the things we'll be looking for.

Sean Gonsalves (43:12):

Got it. Ooh, you know what, I'll, I'm gonna stick with six. Forget it. You know, you know why? Because I will be pitching the, the, you know, what outta stories like that. If there, if there are six and they're not giving me instream coverage, <laugh>,

Christopher Mitchell (43:30):

Why is, why is this guy this, when the reporter's gonna be like, why is Master Sean keep, keep bugging me about like this penny anti scandal trying to get me to blow 'em up.

Sean Gonsalves (43:39):

<laugh>, right. I got a bet on the line, man. Pride.

Christopher Mitchell (43:44):

It's gonna be an interesting year. I think that's for sure. Mm-hmm. <affirmative>, I mean, I feel like we're gonna see a lot of good stuff and we're gonna see a lot of bad stuff. And I just encourage people to keep that perspective, right? I mean, we live in some remarkable times where it's easy to fixate on, on bad things that are happening, things that are scary about the future of some of our communities, of our, of our nation. but at the same time, like just the, the progress that we've seen in terms of more humans being treated with dignity in this country. Like, I feel like, you know, there's a lot of good things going on too. So we're gonna see that in broadband. We're gonna see some really nasty stuff, I think. And we're gonna see some really great stuff as we bring more people the, the ability to be on the internet effectively.

Sean Gonsalves (44:27):

Well said.

Christopher Mitchell (44:28):

looking forward to the year with y'all. And thank you all for, for coming out for the show today.

Ry Marcattilio-McCracken (44:34):

We have transcripts for this and other podcasts available at 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.