Those Bewitching Broadband Bills; States Making Moves - Community Broadband Bits Podcast 350

Interest in community broadband and broadband service from cooperatives has grown significantly within the past few years. This legislative session, lawmakers in states such as Vermont, North Carolina, and Arkansas, have decided that they’d like to start contributing to new ways to bring better Internet access to their constituents. This week, Christopher and Jess Del Fiacco, our Communications Specialist, sit down to review some of the most recent state bills that we find promising.

Jess and Christopher talk about H 513 making it’s way through Vermont’s legislature. The bill contains policy changes and financial support designed to invigorate local broadband projects. H 513 was developed after state leaders examined the success of ECFiber, the regional network that brings gigabit connectivity to more than 20 communities in the central part of the state. 

The state of North Carolina’s FIBER NC ACT, which relaxes some of the state’s restrictions on local Internet network infrastructure investment, also comes up in the conversation. Christopher finds the bill a promising start to restoration of local telecommunications authority in North Carolina. State lawmakers are also considering another bill that will assist with pole issues.

Christopher and Jess spend some time examining what’s happening in Tallahassee, Florida, where city leaders have decided that they will not pursue a feasibility study for the time being. Christopher addresses the meaning of "competition" in Internet access providers. It shouldn’t be a question that’s up for debate, but here we are.

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.


Jess Del Fiacco: More and more people are talking about it. More and more people recognize that it's a problem. It's being taken seriously. These communities who say what they need, they're finally being listened to.

Lisa Gonzalez: Welcome to episode 350 of the Community Broadband Bits podcast from the Institute for Local Self-Reliance. I'm Lisa Gonzalez. This has been a busy legislative session for broadband. Bills that address both policy and funding have kept us on our toes. This week, Christopher teams up with our Communications Specialist, Jess Del Fiacco, to review a few of the bills that state lawmakers seem especially keen to advance. We've been very interested in what's happening in Vermont and North Carolina. Jess and Christopher also review the local situation in Tallahassee, Florida, where community leaders have see-sawed over whether or not to engage a consultant to develop a feasibility study. At the root of the matter is the issue of competition and what it really means in a large city. Christopher and Jess talk about the different perspectives that have come out of Tallahassee and how those views have influenced the city's ability to move forward. Now, here's Christopher and Jess.

Christopher Mitchell: Welcome to another episode of the Community Broadband Bits podcast. I'm Chris Mitchell with the Institute for Local Self-Reliance, ILSR, in Minneapolis, Minnesota. Today I'm speaking with Jess Del Fiacco who's actually going to be hosting this episode. Jess is our Communications Specialist. Welcome to the host chair.

Jess Del Fiacco: Happy to be here. And I am new to this, so hopefully it goes smoothly.

Christopher Mitchell: Yeah. If you do a terrible job, we'll edit you out.

Jess Del Fiacco: Just a bunch of silence.

Christopher Mitchell: Yeah, and we'll never talk of it again. So Jess, what are we going to talk about today?

Jess Del Fiacco: We're gonna just talk about some things that are in the news right now about muni broadband networks. First, looking at Vermont where lawmakers are suddenly eager to support ECFiber.

Christopher Mitchell: Yeah, ECFiber. That sounds as though — it's almost like "easy" fiber, but it's "EC."

Jess Del Fiacco: ECFiber is around 25 communities in east central Vermont who have banded together to form their broadband network.

Christopher Mitchell: Yes. And I'm really excited about what's happening with the house. The house overwhelmingly passed a measure that would create funding that would be available, both grants and loans, for all kinds of providers, but the newspaper stories suggest that they are very keen on that ECFiber model. And right around that time was also a time when — I don't even think you remember this, Jess. You weren't with us at the time, but ECFiber got its start around the time of the broadband stimulus. And we were very supportive of it, and we really hoped that they would get a very big award to build this network. They would have been done years ago. Instead, the Rural Utilities Service gave the money to a private company called VTel, which said we're going to build the Fiber-to-the-Home in a few areas, but we're going to have this really great wireless service in Vermont that's going to serve everyone else. And wireless is not—

Jess Del Fiacco: It's always a good promise, but . . .

Christopher Mitchell: And in Vermont in particular, it's really challenging because first of all, they don't like towers and they really like their trees. So . . .

Jess Del Fiacco: A good combination for a good wireless network.

Christopher Mitchell: Right. And so, it just recently came out that practically no one is being served. People are very frustrated. People who are happy are reporting that they're getting one or two Megabits per second, so it's clearly not the best investment. And people who are frustrated are trying to complain to the RUS, and RUS says basically, "Well, they built the towers and they're doing the service." And I think you might say, "Well, you know, they have executed a dumb plan well." So anyway, it was interesting to me that after years of us promoting the ECFiber model and feeling that this was such a really smart approach, that these communities have gotten together and done and they did it almost entirely — I mean, very little support from the state over the years. They did eventually, once they'd proven themselves, get some money from the state. Not nearly as much as I think they should have, so I don't want to say that the state didn't do anything for them. But I feel like it's this feeling of, "Oh, I'm glad we weren't crazy." because we were among the very few groups that saw how ECFiber was doing things correctly while the state and the federal government were giving money to others, including private approaches that were destined to fail.

Jess Del Fiacco: And what are some of the benefits? What sets this model apart from others?

Christopher Mitchell: The big difference that I see with ECFiber compared to these other models that have received a lot more support, it seems like over the years, is that ECFiber is owned by the communities. You know, it's involved with this nonprofit ValleyNet and they have this ethos of connecting everyone with very high quality networks, whereas the money that's gone to FairPoint, which was previously Verizon and is actually now Consolidated Communications — someone will come along and buy it in a few more years, I'm sure, and then they'll change the name again to escape from the horrific past. But those companies have no commitment to serve everyone, let alone to serve everyone with high quality service, and ECFiber has figured out how to make sure they're serving everyone. You know, and a few years ago — I think it was a few years ago, it may have just been last year — we did a story about ECFiber and how they were building fiber to homes at roughly the same price point for what FairPoint was getting subsidized to bring DSL. And you just again have a sense that something's gone horribly wrong when we see these stories in which — you know, when you look at grant programs and things like that, ECFiber, other municipal networks will often say, we'd like to get some money because we have this good business model to serve everyone. And they may get a response that's like, "Oh, well we couldn't possibly give you money because we've given this other company money to deliver broadband using pigeons." And so, you know, the money is never available, but yet when the big incumbent providers want money, often to build a crap product to people who want a better product and are already sometimes getting a better product from a network like ECFiber, somehow the federal government still finds ways to give money to those big incumbents. We see it time and time again I feel like. And I might just be focused on on a few edge cases, but it's really great to see the state of Vermont recognizing the benefits of ECFiber and moving in that direction. They had previously enabled communications union districts, I think is what it's called, but I might be butchering that a little bit, making it easier for communities to work together to get some aggregation, which is really necessary.

Jess Del Fiacco: And we are talking about really small, really rural communities, right? So is this less financial risk for them individually if they band together like this?

Christopher Mitchell: That's right. Yeah, and it's worth noting — I mean, Vermont, like you said, they're often called towns, but they're more like rural areas that are arbitrarily —

Jess Del Fiacco: There are some houses.

Christopher Mitchell: Right, but I wouldn't say it's like the west. When you get out west of Minnesota and Iowa — you know, even Iowa, the density is actually much greater than if you go to Nebraska and Montana and places like that. Like, both of these are rural in different senses. Vermont is rural in that there's not large areas that are totally uninhabited; it's just that you may not be very close to your neighbors. So these are challenging areas to connect. ECFiber has a model that will work. The best part is once that network is built, we will not have to subsidize another network on top of it, and that is definitely not true with the subsidies we've poured into companies like VTel or into certainly the big incumbents. And I don't want to suggest that VTel is a bad company. I actually have no idea, but I will say that the idea of a statewide wireless network in Vermont always struck me as profoundly stupid.

Jess Del Fiacco: Okay. Well on that note is there —

Christopher Mitchell: Not to understate it.

Jess Del Fiacco: Is there anything else that the state of Vermont could be doing to improve broadband access? I mean, one point might be streamlining one touch make ready policies.

Christopher Mitchell: Oh yes, yes. Thank you. I'm glad someone else is paying attention, or I should say, I'm glad someone is paying attention here because that's actually an exciting part of the bill, is that the Vermont bill would deal with the pole access, making sure that those who own the poles cannot prevent new networks like ECFiber from getting on the poles by having really arduous make ready, which is basically to say that if a company like ECFiber wants to build the fiber network on poles, right now it may have to wait months and months and months. It may not even know if it's going to wait months or a year to get access to the pole, and Vermont is trying to tackle that. Maine has also moved in this direction. So we're seeing some real smart decisions, I think, in the New England area about trying to make sure that poles are available for new investment and that's a big deal. States can act on pole access, and I think that's exciting.

Jess Del Fiacco: So we're seeing elsewhere that rural communities are having an even stronger push for better broadband. I want to talk a little bit about North Carolina and the two bills that have been —

Christopher Mitchell: Do I ever.

Jess Del Fiacco: — introduced lately.

Christopher Mitchell: Well, the most exciting thing is just that there's bills moving forward that are promising. You know, North Carolina has had a Republican leadership for almost 10 years now that I would say has been overly optimistic in terms of the capacity of the big companies and private sector investment alone to bring high quality networks to everyone. We've talked about this a lot over the years, and what we see with — remind me, what's the number of the bill?

Jess Del Fiacco: It's 431.

Christopher Mitchell: Right, so 431 is the bill in the house, which is in the General Assembly of North Carolina. It has a lot of bipartisan support from what I can tell. The North Carolina League of Municipalities, the Association of Counties, a lot of people in North Carolina that care deeply about improving broadband have been working on this. And they have found a lot of support across the lines, which is I think a big deal, and we're hoping to see a lot of support in the Senate as well. I would say this is not a foregone conclusion that this will pass, but it is a very sensible step forward to allow local governments to, with a variety of hoops they have to jump through, be able to build infrastructure and then partner with others to operate it. I will say that I'm a little bit frustrated in that local government could not build infrastructure and then partner with Wilson or another municipal network. That is expressly precluded, but they will be able to work with a cooperative like Wilkes or a company like Hotwire or a company like Open Broadband, which just happen to be three of the companies that we worked with and talked with in our series, Let's Connect, in North Carolina. And if you haven't seen that on, we documented this and our town meetings and just a fantastic time in North Carolina about these issues. This seems like a very sensible bill that will not allow cities to build networks in the way that we would like to see necessarily, but will allow them to engage in public-private partnerships, which I think is a good step in the interim. I do hope over time that we see greater freedom for communities to make these decisions for themselves, but right now it's just really exciting because North Carolina is one of these areas in which I've felt rural communities were really disadvantaged because not only were they not getting investment from the private sector, they just weren't allowed to solve the problem themselves in any way.

Jess Del Fiacco: Do you think there's a potential for cooperatives to get involved in these partnerships?

Christopher Mitchell: Yes. Yeah, and so Wilkes, which is a cooperative that is also doing business as RiverStreet networks, they are very active across the state but limited. Whether it's them or other cooperatives, they can only expand so fast. They can only hire so many construction managers and oversee so many projects, and so if cities and counties were able to build some of this infrastructure and make it easy for a cooperative like that to lease it, then that will allow much more investment much more rapidly in areas of rural North Carolina that desperately need it. So Jess, you also are tracking another bill, which I think is exciting but I have not paid as much attention to.

Jess Del Fiacco: Yeah, so that's one in the Senate and it's bill 310, which would allow electric cooperatives to apply for funding previously they were restricted on getting.

Christopher Mitchell: Right from the federal government I think.

Jess Del Fiacco: Yes.

Christopher Mitchell: Yeah, so we highlighted this in a report that Hannah Trostle did for us several years ago. I think it was "The Good, the Bad and the Ugly" about North Carolina's limitations. The easements are a big deal. We've seen states looking at this. I think Texas might be looking at it. Indiana was one of the first with something called the FIBRE Act. Colorado is trying to figure out what to do with it. And that's a situation in which electric co-ops may need permission from land owners, even though they have fiber running across their fields currently, they may need additional permission to use that fiber for things unrelated to electricity. And that can be a very time consuming process to try to get those easements, which has precluded electric co-ops from getting more aggressive in solving the broadband investment gap. So these sorts of approaches that would just solve it I think would be very helpful. Frankly, you know, ordinarily we don't really want the state to step in and sort of abrogate the rights of landowners, but if you have cable going across your property, just allowing it to be used for other things for community benefits doesn't seem that onerous to me. And frankly, I think most of the people impacted would like to do that anyway.

Jess Del Fiacco: Yeah, and that's a good point. Do you think — we've talked a little bit about the League of Municipalities being in support of this bill, but do you think there's a lot of public, just average person, support for this?

Christopher Mitchell: Absolutely. I mean, we could go out there and say people just love our approach. Like, people love what we're doing at ILSR, and they really think municipal broadband or public-private partnerships is the way to go. And I think that we do have a lot of support, to be clear. I also think that people just want better networks. They want something that will work. They want something that will allow their kids to have all the educational opportunities that they could have. They want things that will allow them to search for jobs. You know, they want something that works. And so, we see a lot of popularity for our ideas, but I will say that in general, people are hungry for solutions for this. And so it's not just a matter of you doing a really good job in communications, Jess, but there's —

Jess Del Fiacco: I take all the credit for these bills.

Christopher Mitchell: For once, this is one of those issues in which we're kind of rowing downstream, which is an odd feeling for me who feels like I'm going upstream most of them.

Jess Del Fiacco: Well, it's great to see North Carolina making some progress then.

Christopher Mitchell: Yeah, you know, I can't understate this enough how glad I am. I feel like the cable and telephone companies have lied for years to the Republican and Democratic legislators in Raleigh in North Carolina and convinced them that there was no needed public investment, that local governments do nothing but get in the way. And I think we're seeing many more elected officials in Raleigh recognizing the important role that communities can play. You have a lot of counties that independently can make investments and try to make this go more rapidly. You have a lot of cities that are hungry and need these kind of networks to keep their businesses in town and they want to keep their property values up and make sure people want to live there. I find it frustrating how people think of rural broadband as kind of like it's almost like a tech issue or it's like people will sometimes act like, "Oh, it's just broadband." You know, we've seen some people say, "Oh, you know, it's not as important as other issues," but people are leaving their homes in rural areas in part because they cannot get good broadband. I mean, you grew up in a part of Wisconsin that's not exactly a metro region, so . . .

Jess Del Fiacco: Not exactly. Yeah, those are the words I would use. And yeah, it's not about, you know, just being able to get online, but it's the things that that allows you to access. You know, jobs, education, whatever.

Christopher Mitchell: Yeah. And so I, I just think it's, you know, if you're telling people, "Oh, maybe in five years someone will come and invest in your region, so you're still not allowed to do it yourself," that's a slap in the face. And really, it's not necessarily — to say it's a death sentence is overstating a little bit, but it is basically condemning a community, I think.

Jess Del Fiacco: Yeah. You're cutting out a lot of years of potential progress and growth that you would have.

Christopher Mitchell: You have a lot of people who are not going to come back. They're moving away and they're going to build their roots somewhere else, and I think we should be concerned about that. I think we should cherish our communities and do everything we can to support them, rather than saying, "Well, we think in three to five years, you know, maybe 5G will eventually get out there, and then that's why you can't have broadband today if you wanted to build it yourself." So let me just say one other thing, which is — I don't think that we covered it on the podcast, but for people who aren't regularly reading, first of all, shame on you. Lisa does a great job with that. But Arkansas did slightly walk back its restrictions, and we do hope to have a podcast in the future once their session ends to talk a little bit about that with some folks who were there, but the important thing is that North Carolina and Arkansas are two southern legislatures dominated by Republicans that are seeing the wisdom of allowing local governments some more opportunities to solve these problems. And they're not willing to say that local governments can entirely do what they want, but they are taking a step in the direction of more freedom, more local authority for communities to solve these problems locally. I think that's a big deal.

Jess Del Fiacco: So, in Tallahassee, Florida, the city commission recently kind of walked back their decision to move forward on a feasibility study around broadband.

Christopher Mitchell: Right, Not Tallahassee, Nebraska.

Jess Del Fiacco: Correct. There's so many of them, you know. And it seems the main criticisms were, A) about potential cost and B) you know, the suggestion that we've heard in a lot of other places, which is there's already plenty of competition — we have 17 providers. What do you say to that?

Christopher Mitchell: One thing that I can say is that I don't know who thinks they have 17 providers. And so, I wrote a quick letter to the editor in response to this. The only reason that we think it got published is because someone sent me an email thanking me for writing it and saying that she was in this situation of only having one option and she hated it in Tallahassee and that she was very thankful that I pointed out to them that that 17 is a comically wrong estimate for the number of providers in Tallahassee. Tallahassee is like almost 200,000 people or so. It's a larger city, municipal electric city, which means they have the poles, most likely. They have the know-how already to do a lot of the things related to fiber. In fact, they almost certainly already have a fiber network connecting their substations and a lot of the grid, but they're not connecting residents and businesses. Now, the op ed that we read from the Tallahassee Democrat, it just drove me nuts because I'm so tired of people who should know better, right? I mean, you work on for a major newspaper. You would think you would know how to engage in basic fact checking. So they claimed, well we don't need to do this because of all this competition. Now, I looked at to look at some of this and they're pretty good. I mean BroadbandNow uses a lot of flawed statistics from the federal government and elsewhere, and they compile a pretty accurate picture. For as wide of a net as they cast, I think they're pretty good at giving you a picture of a city, and they didn't have 17 providers. I think they had like six residential providers. I think four of them were satellite, you know, which I think it's safe to say that — it would be interesting to find if there's like three people in Tallahassee that have satellite access. I'm guessing there aren't, but the point is that like most urban areas, Tallahassee has a cable competitor that goes to most homes and CenturyLink I think is the telephone provider that goes to most homes with a combination of DSL and maybe fiber in a few areas, but that's the extent of it. For most people in Tallahassee, which I would say is like more than probably 80 percent, they have no other options for actual broadband service.

Jess Del Fiacco: They're not all spoiled for choice, you know, looking at their pamphlet of 17 providers to choose from.

Christopher Mitchell: Right, right. It's not like they come home from work [saying] "Hey honey, I was thinking we should change Internet providers yet again to this other one because of all this price competition we're seeing." No, they're paying high rates. You know, it's probably not — you wouldn't think of it necessarily as totally stifling business activity, but I'm sure that businesses are frustrated. I mean, every place we've looked at in depth that has this dynamic, their businesses are overpaying and frustrated with the quality of service, so I assume Tallahassee is the same way. If anyone ever sees anyone suggesting there are double digit figures of competition, that person just does not know what they're talking about. If you look at the FCC statistics for areas that have residential competition, most areas have two. Some have three. I don't think anyone has more than eight. And I think, like, literally you could count the census blocks, you know, in a short period of time that have more than five.

Jess Del Fiacco: I think we have a whole report about this that covers some of these statistics.

Christopher Mitchell: We do. And you know, one of the frustrating things is the areas that have the best competition, which we found in looking at and researching the Profiles of Monopoly telecom report we did, is that the FCC doesn't even really keep track of the open access networks where we see the robust options. I mean, if you're in rural Washington state, you might actually have 10 choices for residential service, but that's all through the municipal broadband network that's open multiple providers. So, I will just say if you're listening to this and you ever hear anyone saying, like, "Oh, there's 10 choices," they're probably confusing the fact that if you're a business on certain street corners, you might have six or seven choices and other people have two choices and other people have a different two choices. If you add all those together, you can say people have this many choices, but the only way you could defend that is to say, "Well, if you want this provider, you move over here. If you want to then switch to this provider, you move your house over there." That's not at all what is intended by, you know, these claims. So the other thing that they said was 3G and 4G. They're like, look at how fast things are progressing, and this is just a fallacy that I've said many times. You know, when I started doing this job, people were saying, "We don't need to invest in wires anymore, we have Wi-Fi. Wi-Fi is going to bring lots of competition." Obviously that hasn't happened. This is even — I think, you know, you were probably in maybe high school at the time — probably in high school. Let's be generous. You know, I'm guessing you didn't see a lot of Wi-Fi business models coming about trying to get to your parents' home as you were growing up.

Jess Del Fiacco: Nope, I'm going to say no. Actually maybe zero.

Christopher Mitchell: Right, so people have told me, "Well that's okay because Wi-Fi was going to be replaced by a WiMAX." Did you have any WiMAX service providers in your area when you were growing up?

Jess Del Fiacco: Can't say I did, no.

Christopher Mitchell: No, but then that was not something that really resulted in more competition. 4G LTE came along, and I'm going to guess you do have some 4G LTE competition

Jess Del Fiacco: Eh, some. It's still spotty.

Christopher Mitchell: Right, so in 2019 it's still spotty. Would you rely on that in the home you grew up in?

Jess Del Fiacco: Absolutely not.

Christopher Mitchell: Yeah, so, you know, this idea —

Jess Del Fiacco: And then we still have a landline, so yeah.

Christopher Mitchell: So I mean, like, this is the reality, and people are like, oh no. Like the magic thing that was going to happen in 200,5 that was going to happen in 2009, that was going to happen in 2013, that was going to happen in 2017, it's really going to happen now in 2020. I mean, the people who make these claims, it actually reminds me of those cults who are like, "Oh yeah, like the next time we have an eclipse — "

Jess Del Fiacco: Judgement day is coming right around the corner.

Christopher Mitchell: Right, the spaceships are going to come and pick us up — it's happening. And then it doesn't happen, and they're like, oh yeah, you know we —

Jess Del Fiacco: Recalculate. Two years.

Christopher Mitchell: Exactly, yeah. Two years away — it's really going to happen this time. And that's just my reaction to this idea of 3G, 4G — everyone's going to have Gs. It's really exciting. We're kind of torching the editorial staff because they did a really bad job and this is really important, but that's not to say that we are throwing in to say that the city should absolutely move forward with a project. Now it's been claimed that the project would cost $300 million. I just think that's indefensible. A city like Tallahassee with a municipal electric, if you were asking me offhand what I thought it would cost, I would say on the order of $100 to $200 million probably and probably pretty close to the middle in there — maybe less. It's still an expensive project, and I think the city should take it seriously. I think they should do a feasibility study, and they shouldn't go into it thinking we're absolutely going to do this. I think they should be thinking about it in terms of perhaps incrementall,y like what are the goals? The advice we often give cities is, what are you trying to solve? Are you trying to solve broadband in every residence for price competition? Are you trying to bring broadband to people who can't afford it today? Are you focused on business benefits? Those are the kinds of questions I think they should be asking, and in the meantime, maybe the editorial staff can educate themselves a little bit. You know, my fear is always that the editorial staff basically got a briefing from Comcast and was like, "Well, this is crazy," and then they just wrote it all down without fact checking it. People who live in urban areas, we're going to see more of this. This morning we were talking about this in fact, how we're seeing so many more areas that are considering these kinds of investments. I think we're going to see these flawed stats over and over and over again. People need to be prepared for how to answer them. And that doesn't necessarily mean that people who are cautious are wrong, but we all need to have our facts in front of us. So Jess, as we're wrapping up here, let me just ask you — you've been on staff for nearly nine months now. Congratulations on your nine month anniversary;

Jess Del Fiacco: Time flies.

Christopher Mitchell: Have you sensed any changes? I mean, I realize nine months is not that long of a time as you're sort of getting your sense, but you know, I feel like there's an acceleration right now of interest in this stuff, and you're going through the news every day to look and hunt these stories down. Are you seeing any differences?

Jess Del Fiacco: You know, I mean, like you said, it is hard to tell because I don't have a long term sense of how things have changed, but I really do — I mean, like you said, I comb through the stories every afternoon and it seems like my Google alerts are more full every week. It's just more, more people talking about it. More and more people recognize that it's a problem. It's being taken seriously. These communities who say what they need, they're finally being listened to, I think, at a higher level.

Christopher Mitchell: Yeah. I mean, I'm just thinking right now, the stories Lisa has put up recently — I mean, classic recency bias perhaps, but we don't have a story up yet, I don't think, about Erie County in New York. But they're moving forward — well, they've proposed an interesting project for a backbone. Loveland, Colorado, and Estes Park both seem to be moving forward with municipal broadband. Hillsboro in Oregon, which had received tragically bad, terrible advice from Uptown Services, which I've written about a few times a, they're moving forward with a really innovative approach. You know, I just feel like we're seeing all kinds of of cities that are not just saying we should look into this, but that are actually moving forward and it's pretty exciting right now.

Jess Del Fiacco: Yeah, it's hopeful.

Christopher Mitchell: Yeah, so with that, I think, you know, we could probably leave people. And let me just remind people that we do two other podcasts through ILSR, at least. The two I'm thinking of are Building Local Power and —

Jess Del Fiacco: Who knows how many podcasts we do?

Christopher Mitchell: Checkout for the latest in podcasts. And the other podcast is Local Energy Rules, which has had a really great series on cities that are planning on and getting to 100% renewable energy. And come on back. We'll be back next week. We're gonna be doing some live interviews pretty soon with folks down at the Broadband Communities event in Austin, which will be next week, so it should be really great.

Lisa Gonzalez: That was our Communications Specialist, Jess Del Fiacco talking with Christopher about recent legislative efforts in Vermont and North Carolina and Tallahassee, Florida's decision not to move forward with the feasibility study. We have transcripts for this and other podcasts available at Email us at with your ideas for the show. Follow Chris on Twitter. His handle is @communitynets. Follow stories on Twitter. The handle is @muninetworks. Subscribe to this podcast and the other podcasts from ILSR that Christopher mentioned during the show, Building Local Power and the Local Energy Rules podcast. You can access them wherever you get your podcasts. You can catch the latest important research from all of our initiatives if you subscribe to our monthly newsletter at 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, and thank you for listening to episode 350 of the Community Broadband Bits podcast.