Fast, affordable Internet access for all.
Transcript: Community Broadband Bits Episode 234
This is the transcript for episode 234 of the Community Broadband Bits podcast. The MuniNetworks crew (Christopher Mitchell, Lisa Gonzalez, Nick Stumo-Langer, and Hannah Trostle) recap some of the events of 2016 and then predict what will happen in 2017. The first two predictions are from two of our listeners, Jeff Hoel and Rebecca Toews. Listen to this episode here.
Rebecca Toews: I predict that I will still be on hold with Comcast.
Hannah Trostle (reading Jeff Hoel's prediction): I predict that that the EPA will try and put itself and the FCC on the endangered species list.
Nick Stumo-Langer: You just don't know how many illegal things they talk about on this podcast anyway because Lisa cuts them out.
Christopher Mitchell: That's a great way to start the show. Welcome to another edition of the Community Broadband Bits Podcast. This is our year in review and next year in anticipation episode, I guess. Here with me we've got Lisa.
Lisa Gonzalez: Hey there.
Christopher Mitchell: And we've got Hannah.
Hannah Trostle: Hi.
Christopher Mitchell: And we've got Nick back again.
Nick Stumo-Langer: Hi Chris, good to be here.
Christopher Mitchell: You were here last, one year ago I believe when Lisa was in Michigan and we needed someone to feel in.
Nick Stumo-Langer: Yup, you've retained my seat. It's been great.
Christopher Mitchell: Yeah we haven't moved the seat since then. I think it makes sense to look back at some of the predictions we made last year. Rebecca, who I don't know if we've ever formally announced that Rebecca had moved on to another organization. We miss her on a daily basis, but she was on the show last year in which we talked about our predictions and whatnot. Do we want to review any of our predictions?
Lisa Gonzalez: I think we could look at a few of them. Why don't we do that? Let's see. We talked a little bit -
Christopher Mitchell: Before we got too far into this I just wanted to make a quick plea, please don't forget us in your year end giving. LSR, the Institute for Local Self Reliance is really dependent on contributions and donations from our listeners and readers. I think it's really important as we go into a new year in which we're going to see more and more of these issues of whether local communities are able to make decisions for themselves and able to thrive or if they are going to be stuck being dependent on what comes out of DC and what comes out of a big corporate boardroom. I think it's really important that people are able to support us and show support for the idea of local government in 2017. Let me just make that plea. If you still have some money to give to charitable causes we are a 501C3 and it's tax deductible. Please support us.
Lisa Gonzalez: Yes do because you don't want to lose our wonderful voices on the podcast.
Nick Stumo-Langer: Right right.
Christopher Mitchell: At least the ideas the voices are rooting for. Let's turn now to some of the predictions.
Lisa Gonzalez: Okay. I seem to remember we talked, well I wasn't because I wasn't here but I seem to remember hearing that you had talked a little bit about more partnership models.
Christopher Mitchell: Yes. I think we did talk about that.
Lisa Gonzalez: That was a prediction.
Christopher Mitchell: I think, this actually links into a prediction I'll have later on today but we saw some new models. We've seen a few new models.
Lisa Gonzalez: A few new ones.
Christopher Mitchell: In particular, I don't know if you'd call it a partnership but it's sort of in that vein though - the Huntsville approach with municipal fiber and Google leasing it. It's also what Madison is trying to do with apartments.
Lisa Gonzalez: Right and this is something we've struggled with lately with actually what is a partnership.
Christopher Mitchell: Right. I would say we've not really seen partnership models and in fact we've not seen any new partnerships in a meaningful way; in the way that Westminster and Ting have partnered. We've seen a lot more ways in which we do see cooperation between often smaller private companies and municipalities but I don't know that we've really seen a new partnership model. It depends on how semantic you want to get with the term partnership.
Lisa Gonzalez: Right, right.
Christopher Mitchell: We've seen new models coming out and I think it results in more investment from the private sector which is kind of what everyone is going for.
Lisa Gonzalez: Right.
Christopher Mitchell: We have seen some of that.
Hannah Trostle: Okay so no partnership models. I think I remember one of the things Rebecca asking about was whether or not there would be multi-city cooperation.
Nick Stumo-Langer: I was reading the transcript and I don't really recall exactly what that meant. It's sort of like multiple cities working together in a cooperative.
Hannah Trostle: A regional network maybe.
Christopher Mitchell: We haven't really seen that although I think we've seen more areas that are talking about it but we definitely have seen more cooperation and that's where I think Hannah has been doing a lot of work.
Hannah Trostle: Yeah we've definitely seen a lot more electric cooperatives this year. Telephone cooperatives have been doing things for a very long time but this year especially we've seen a lot of the electrical operatives working with the smaller towns in their area and finding out exactly what they need as far as Internet access.
Nick Stumo-Langer: It also seems to me that there's a lot of interest in the cooperative model as a means of delivering Internet service too. I think Hannah identified 63 gigabit cooperatives and that's really important to say. There's a lot of different organizations that want to deliver high quality Internet service to their member owners.
Christopher Mitchell: Right. Yeah definitely. One of the things that I do recall is that I predicted we wouldn't really get an answer on the sixth circuit and we did.
Hannah Trostle: Right.
Christopher Mitchell: That was the answer we were not looking for but it does offer some certainty. I think we see North Carolina and Tennessee continue to move forward and I think that that FCC effort still led us to a better place in which North Carolina and Tennessee have much more energy to restore their local authority. For people who might have just recently joined us, that sixth circuit decision is the one where the FCC overruled Tennessee and North Carolina in the way that they had passed restrictions on local authority. The sixth circuit said that the FCC did not have the authority to overturn state law in that way. Frankly I think it's a mixed bag in that now we have a stronger sense of Federalism. If the FCC was to try and say something under the Trump administration that would be anti muni we would also see the courts saying, no. States are the ones that are controlling in this area under current law. It's not all bad.
Nick Stumo-Langer: It's also important to note that Wilson has gone forward and said that we're going to offer a very good program for public housing for Internet access to so they're looking forward and going and connecting folks near them and in their community to ensure that they have high quality Internet access and that the state can't limit what they're doing.
Christopher Mitchell: Right. Actually this has been a year in which I feel like almost every other week I want to have Wilson on as a guest because whether their connecting their neighbors and fighting the state law in pine tops which we discussed or this public housing or the local economic benefits they're seeing from the network. There's so much happening in Wilson. It was a great year for them.
Lisa Gonzalez: The FCC decision definitely lent itself some clarity. Nobody needs to bother with them anymore.
Christopher Mitchell: The FCC?
Lisa Gonzalez: Right.
Christopher Mitchell: Well I do think there's no sense in anything good that will come out of the FCC unless you're AT&T or Century Link and you want a few billion dollars to do absolutely no investment with, the FCC is a wonderful place to go and get that check written.
Lisa Gonzalez: Right.
Christopher Mitchell: The FCC has done good in terms of some of the investments and requirements in the past for people who have disabilities or are differently abled or however you want to say it. People that are deaf or have learning challenges and brain disabilities, the SCC has done a lot and I think that the new FCC will not roll that back. There's some things that Wheeler's FCC did that will live on, let's hope.
Lisa Gonzalez: Sure. I mean how could they roll that back. How horrible would they look if they rolled those back?
Christopher Mitchell: Yeah. I don't want to try and -- This is not just like, oh Republicans are in charge of the FCC. O’Reilly and Pai are two of, basically anything the telephone companies want. They are really not interested in the public interest and the way that past Republican commissioners have at least cared a little bit about things other than pleasing their corporate patrons. I'm quite worried about the future of the FCC and I don't want people to think, Oh it's just people who are upset that they lost an election. It's really a particular kind of regime that's coming into DC that's very concerning for the future of all these issues I think. Nick, I think one of the things we talked about last year was Colorado, whether they were going to change the law. They did not.
Nick Stumo-Langer: As you predicted they did not change the law.
Christopher Mitchell: Right.
Nick Stumo-Langer: There were more and more communities that opted out of that law, that state law SB152 requires a referendum for communities to invest in a telecom network and there's a total of 95.
Christopher Mitchell: Yeah it's approaching 100.
Nick Stumo-Langer: A lot of communities saying they want to have some control whether that's investigating what options they have or actually building a network, seeing that they have the local control over that.
Lisa Gonzalez: So a prediction?
Nick Stumo-Langer: My prediction is
the same: more communities opting out and Colorado does not change the law.
Lisa Gonzalez: Right. Absolutely. I think as long as there is that option there won't be any reason to change the law. You can always say, well it works. The more communities that do the referendum and pass it just reinforces that.
Nick Stumo-Langer: Right. I think it's just really hard to change a state law that is something that the cable and telephone companies favor.
Lisa Gonzalez: Right.
Nick Stumo-Langer: Now those companies would like to change the law themselves.
Lisa Gonzalez: Sure.
Nick Stumo-Langer: They'd like to make it harder. That's where I think we'll see more of an issue is that if they do try to change it we'll be pushing back to say know. We'd rather deal with the devil we know than a new devil that's going to be crafted to make life easier for big monopolies.
Lisa Gonzalez: Right. Right.
Christopher Mitchell: It also gets easier and easier for communities to opt out of this once they've seen the success that their neighbors have had as well. This isn't just limited to municipalities. It's counties. It's some school districts. Basically any administrative district that could do this.
Lisa Gonzalez: You had predicted that you thought Google would invest in more communities.
Christopher Mitchell: Well they did. They've launched Salt Lake City. They're doing some work in San Antonio. There's a few others but they have, I did not predict that Google would start a significant pull back.
Lisa Gonzalez: Right.
Christopher Mitchell: This is something I was wrestling with yesterday as I was considering future predictions is what do I think Google will do next year and I don't know. This is something I've long said. I don't think Google knows. To some extent one can make predictions but it's hard to tell because within Google there are different opinions of what they should do. I don't know how you can predict who will win within Google as to making those determinations. I can tell you that I certainly hope we'll see more of the Huntsville type arrangements where Google would be a provider on a network that is owned by a municipality and where we can see more of these open fiber investments that will result in more choices in the market place and fundamentally have open infrastructure throughout communities that can support multiple ISP's rather than having communities that are basically locked down by a single cable or telephone company.
Nick Stumo-Langer: I do have a question about that and maybe it's not exactly relevant to this conversation but does Google have a limitation in who they're willing to work with, like Huntsville and like other communities who have a strong tech base and a strong existing industry because I think time and again we've talked about municipal fiber networks and fiber networks in general as boosting innovation. It kind of seems like the chicken and the egg about who is willing to invest in the community. I'm just wondering in the predictions part of this, are there going to be more communities that aren't necessarily having that tech base already investing in municipal fiber or even arrangements with places like Google.
Christopher Mitchell: I think that there's a lot of areas that are non tech focused that are going to continue to invest in this. For instance Madison is not a particularly tech known place but they're investing in this because they have good leadership on it. Communities in the central valley in California are really looking into this. In southern California I think because of what Santa Monica has done there's a lot of municipal networks that are popping up there of flavor and approaches. Some of them are reaching out to businesses. Some of them are going all the way to the homes but I think we're going to see more of the kind of investments in 2017 or at the very least more feasibility studies from places where they're like, Oh man everyone is moving to this city that's 30 miles away from me. We need to find a way of keeping them here. This is something that we saw in electric cooperatives which is something that John Chambers told me, he thinks the number one determinations for whether an electric co op will be interested in this is if there's an electric co op very close to them that's doing it because that gets their attention and it gets their members attention and they get very interested in doing it at that point.
Nick Stumo-Langer: It's a good domino effect.
Christopher Mitchell: Exactly.
Lisa Gonzalez: For 2016 you had also predicted that you thought there might be some more large cities making an investment.
Christopher Mitchell: Right and Madison of course calls themselves not a large city.
Lisa Gonzalez: Right, but I think in the podcast you had mentioned specifically New York and Seattle and Baltimore.
Christopher Mitchell: Each of them is making noise still. San Francisco I would add to that as being much more serious now about it. It remains hard to say, some of these things.
Hannah Trostle: Things also take longer in a larger city too.
Christopher Mitchell: Right. I don't know that I would call that a victory. I certainly thought there'd be a chance we'd see much more of it. It was kind of a half prediction success maybe.
Hannah Trostle: Well and in Seattle they have it in their master plan. No funding for it.
Christopher Mitchell: Right. Upgrade Seattle is doing a great job of putting pressure on and organizing around this but I think it's time to move beyond our recap to predictions for the next year. Hannah, let's start off with you. What's a prediction for 2017?
Hannah Trostle: I think a lot of the bigger cities and some of the mid sized cities will pass a lot more small ordinances like in the San Francisco Multiple Dwelling Unit one. Smaller things that can immediately increase Internet access to their residents.
Christopher Mitchell: To try and make the market work better?
Hannah Trostle: Yeah. Rather than trying to deal with fiber and deal with poles. It's been a very rough time for poles this year.
Christopher Mitchell: I think that's a smart prediction and I think we will see that. I wouldn't see rather than though. I think a number of the places that are passing those will also be doing other things that take a longer time horizon. I certainly think we'll see more of that in 2017. I'm afraid it will be a little slower. I was hoping the end of 2016 would have more of that and there was a lot of pushback so we'll see what happens in San Francisco and other places that are working on it. That's something I would absolutely expect to see. Nick, a prediction?
Nick Stumo-Langer: A prediction that I have that I really hope does not come true is that we're going to see more and more money flowing into state legislatures based on issues of limiting competition or really becoming the state legislatures and maybe local city councils becoming the battleground for Internet access and incumbent monopoly money.
Christopher Mitchell: Let's put a prediction on that then. How many states will see a serious fight over limiting local authority?
Nick Stumo-Langer: I'd say a serious fight that we can identify the actors in, which is a very difficult thing in some cases, I'd say 15.
Christopher Mitchell: Wow.
Lisa Gonzalez: Wow. No I've already got too much work to do.
Christopher Mitchell: You're going to be working overtime. I can tell you that right now.
Nick Stumo-Langer: I'm nothing if not bold in this prediction and like I said I really hope it falls short but we've seen year and year again in Missouri there's been efforts to limit local investment. We've seen in North Carolina in recent years just the fight for any investment in municipalities or cooperatives to invest in their municipal networks and increasing the service for folks. I think that it's something where at the federal level this policy might not exist so at the state level we might just see more moves being made so the incumbent monopolies might seem more threatened.
Christopher Mitchell: Hannah, how many numbers, how many states are we going to have a major fight in?
Hannah Trostle: I'd go with 10.
Christopher Mitchell: Lisa?
Lisa Gonzalez: No I don't think they'll be that many. I would say less than five.
Christopher Mitchell: I picked five.
Lisa Gonzalez: I think it's going to be in states where we've seen it before. They've already kind of got that base and those people lined up.
Christopher Mitchell: If we're going by Price is Right rules anything less than five, Lisa wins. Five to nine, I win. Ten to fifteen Hanna wins. Above fifteen, Nick wins but we all lose.
Nick Stumo-Langer: You see that's why you don't want to be the first person who bets on the Price is Right. That's what I was just turned into.
Christopher Mitchell: The reason I picked five, and I think it's going to be five sort of knock down drag out fights because I don't think there will be that many. I should say that others are very concerned. Jim Baller. John [inaudible
00:17:23] who follows this field closely. I've already heard rumblings about some states that are concerned where this is going to come up but I just think strategically it will be very dumb for the cable and telephone companies to bring this out because what we've seen the last four years certainly is that when this issue comes out it's a big media issue and the telephone and cable companies look bad. It gives us a chance to blast them in the press over and over again and I don't see why they would want to do that when the municipal broadband movement is growing but it's not like it's really threatening their profits. They remain incredible profitable. If they're smart they would remain pretty quiet but if they're going to give us a chance to get a ton of media exposure and fight after fight, well then we'll take them up on it.
Nick Stumo-Langer: That's why I'm saying that. I want to be busy. I want to have the media exposure and us really see press releases on this and us talking to folks about it because the more and more we get the narrative out there about municipal networks and investment in communities, that's a good thing. That's why I'm saying 15. I'm sticking to it.
Lisa Gonzalez: Yeah I feel that they are sneakier than that. That's why I think it would be a lower number.
Nick Stumo-Langer: I don't know if they're sneakier than that. I don't know if they're sneakier than that. I think that their lobbyist, all these people that live in the state capitols have to do something and so I think they basically say, well let's work on this. It's not really in the interest of the company but companies don't always make decisions based on what's in their larger interest. They make decisions based on who has power within the company. The lobbyist want to justify their existence and they also want to get paid overtime so I think the lobbyists may drag them into unwise fights.
Lisa Gonzalez: I also think that if the incoming administrations plan to put in tax credits and all that, they're going to be somewhat occupied with all of that so this is going to be more of a secondary focus. They'll be begging for dollars instead of so much as trying to get these laws passed.
Nick Stumo-Langer: Yes.
Christopher Mitchell: Yeah and I also think we're going to see a lot of fights over wireless.
Lisa Gonzalez: I agree.
Christopher Mitchell: I think AT&T for instance will be focused more on trying to roll back authority over their ability to put sales everywhere that you can see rather than anything on wired issues.
Lisa Gonzalez: I think so too.
Christopher Mitchell: I'm curious how many states are goin to roll back so Tennessee and North Carolina are two prime ones. Are we going to see any states roll back their existing barriers next year?
Lisa Gonzalez: I don't think so.
Christopher Mitchell: Hannah?
Hannah Trostle: No.
Christopher Mitchell: Nick?
Nick Stumo-Langer: I'll be bold once. No.
Christopher Mitchell: I'm saying Tennessee. Tennessee is going to roll it back. They're going to at the very least have some kind of carve out to allow more. I think North Carolina, and I wouldn't consider this a roll back but I think North Carolina will absolutely allow pine tops.
Lisa Gonzalez: Oh yeah. Absolutely but that's not the same as -
Christopher Mitchell: Yeah. Right. I think in both of those states I think we'll see people that actually want to invest in, that want to see more investment in rural areas fight against it. I think Governor Cooper who won the North Carolina, I certainly think he'll be pushing hard and fighting the legislature to roll it back. I think it may be challenging this year to do that.
Lisa Gonzalez: It's not going to happen this year.
Christopher Mitchell: In 2017?
Lisa Gonzalez: Right. It might happen a different year but this year he's got a little to much to deal with and a little too little to deal with it with.
Christopher Mitchell: In Tennessee, I'm really going to go out on a limb. Tennessee and North Carolina are both going to roll it back. Tennessee is going to be a little bit more significant.
Lisa Gonzalez: Why do you think Tennessee?
Christopher Mitchell: In Tennessee the grassroots movement is so strong. The governor's own agency put out a report on economic development that identify these laws against municipal networks as being a major barrier.
Lisa Gonzalez: There's somebody who is actually paying attention.
Christopher Mitchell: I think so. I think so. We'll see.
Lisa Gonzalez: I could see a carve out for Bradley county.
Christopher Mitchell: That could be.
Lisa Gonzalez: I could see that. [crosstalk
00:21:24] Not if it's the whole object.
Christopher Mitchell: I also think in North Carolina, don't forget North Carolina has this odd re-election now in 2017 because the elections this year were so horribly racially jerry mandered that the courts have said they have to re-vote in 2017. I think if Governor Cooper is going to go railing against the legislature saying that they won't allow world broadband that the legislature may cave and I think we can see them soften their restrictions against municipal broadband in North Carolina. This is me going full Polly Anna but I think we can definitely see that happening. There's also something about Tennessee that you haven't mentioned too which you haven't mentioned which is Chattanooga's very robust marketing campaign and the very remarkable things that they are able to do. They just got a really great rating from PC Magazine talking to the top gaming ISP.
Nick Stumo-Langer: I think we can have like a section on our website, Awards Chatanooga just won.
Christopher Mitchell: Right, and they are doing a lot of things and they are saying these things and they are marketing their network as one of the best in the world in part to show their local communities and their neighbors and stuff like that saying, You want this. You want this type of thing to be there and maybe that puts pressure on the legislature.
Nick Stumo-Langer: Right. I think they've given it power. I think there's going to be a real push.
Lisa Gonzalez: I don't think it's going to happen this year. I can maybe see it next year but I don't think it's going to happen this year. I just think there's too many other things going on.
Nick Stumo-Langer: Okay I have some wimpy predictions. The major mergers will all be approved.
Lisa Gonzalez: Shocking.
Hannah Trostle: That's not a prediction. It's a fact.
Nick Stumo-Langer: We'll see. It's one I'll be happy to be wrong on.
Christopher Mitchell: What else do we have for predictions?
Lisa Gonzalez: You didn't ask me.
Christopher Mitchell: Lisa.
Lisa Gonzalez: I feel slighted. Okay so one of the things that I think I'd like to see and I think we might see are not necessarily municipal projects or publicly owned, possibly you could call them publicly owned but more of these like local neighborhood community, people getting together and funding their own little neighborhood networks. In fact Hannah is working on a story right now about -
Hannah Trostle: Brinnon, Washington. They're working together based sort of on the San Juan islands model to bring wireless to their community.
Lisa Gonzalez: Now a lot of these are wireless but I think these people -- we've also written about, I think it was Tennessee. Yeah, where the neighborhood just got together and said, look everyone just chip in money and we will pay for it to connect to wherever. I just think people are going to be talking more control of their own situation and saying, we've got the money. We'll just do it ourselves. I think that people are sick of waiting.
Hannah Trostle: They've been organizing them as non profits or sort of smaller companies. Not really municipalities.
Lisa Gonzalez: I think we're going to see more of a local self reliance search.
Christopher Mitchell: Good. Well let's hope so. I am curious whether anyone is expecting, well let's put it this way Trump was elected because of rural America. Rural America really made the difference and really made sure that he won the White House. Are we going to see that rewarded? Are we going to see the federal government do anything to help rural America rather than just focusing on helping AT&T and Century Link.
Lisa Gonzalez: Crickets.
Christopher Mitchell: No. I'm hearing no hope of that. We all think that the federal government is just going to say, Rural America you can suck it.
Nick Stumo-Langer: Maybe not in so stark of terms but in reality yeah. I think the infrastructure spending that everyone is talking about that is being trumpeted, no pun intended I guess, is that it's going to go to the large companies, the large contracts and not trickle down to those rural communities and actually build out the investment and the infrastructure.
Christopher Mitchell: That's my prediction as well, that the federal government will do nothing to help rural areas but that in fact rural America will still have higher hopes because of the co-ops and the self organizing. I think that this is going to be one of those instances in which rural America is going to get better broadband because of the Roosevelt administration. In fact the Roosevelt administration with having established all these electric co ops and to some extent laying the groundwork for future telephone co ops. I think we'll be more responsible for getting high quality Internet access out to America than the Bush administration, the Obama administration, and the Trump administration combined.
Nick Stumo-Langer: This seems like an ode you need to be writing. An ode to the Roosevelt administration.
Christopher Mitchell: Thank you Roosevelt administration for Internet-tizing rural America.
Nick Stumo-Langer: Yes, Internet-tizing. It's coming to a dictionary near you.
Hannah Trostle: Is it going to be capitalized?
Christopher Mitchell: Yes. Absolutely.
Lisa Gonzalez: That was one of Hannah's predictions.
Hannah Trostle: Yeah my prediction is you will stop capitalizing Internet Chris.
Christopher Mitchell: Oh, there's no chance of that. Absolutely not. I'll stop capitalizing Internet when people stop capitalizing White House. You know there's lot's of white houses out there. There are plenty of houses that are white and yet one gets capitalized. Why is that? Oh because it's unique. For the love of God the Internet needs to be capitalized. There's only one of them.
Lisa Gonzalez: I did read an interesting article about that awhile back though, about how if we are going to consider the Internet as a utility we need to stop capitalizing it.
Christopher Mitchell: That's such crap.
Hannah Trostle: Why don't you be more direct in your thoughts.
Christopher Mitchell: For the love of God, the Internet is one thing.
Lisa Gonzalez: We don't capitalize electricity. We don't capitalize telephone.
Christopher Mitchell: Electricity isn't one thing. It's a commodity.
Lisa Gonzalez: It's a utility.
Christopher Mitchell: Okay so like --
Lisa Gonzalez: I'm not arguing for or against it. I'm just making statements.
Christopher Mitchell: You can go to Las Vegas and see the Taj Mahal so we should never capitalize Taj Mahal.
Lisa Gonzalez: The Taj Mahal is not a utility.
Christopher Mitchell: But the question of whether something is a proper noun is whether or not it is unique. The Internet is unique. There is only one. There is multiple Internets but there is only one the Internet. If you're talking about an Internet of real estate agents and linking together real estate agents and like you're linking together different real estate agents in a network, fine. That an lower case Internet. If you're talking about the one network that connects all networks in the entire freaking planet basically, that's the Internet, capitalize. No, I will not stop capitalizing it. It will be capitalizing on my tombstone hopefully many decades from now because I'm going to put it there just as a fit of obstinacy.
Hannah Trostle: Spite?
Lisa Gonzalez: I think every letter on Chris's letter will be capitalized.
Nick Stumo-Langer: You to blow a gasket because of this Internet stylization. Make sure it's put on there with capitalization. Chris cannot let anything go. That is not a prediction for 2017.
Christopher Mitchell: I want to say another one of my week predictions and my last week prediction, my last prediction that I wrote down was, We will continue to see more and more talk of public private partnerships without any new public private partnerships. There are practically no public private partnerships in the sense of actually having a partnership. Westminster is the sole example. We thought we'd see another one in Santa Cruz and we fizzled because it's very hard to find entities that want to work together in that way to accept shared risk and to share the benefits. We will see more situations in which municipalities are taking on the risk themselves. They are building the network and they are leasing that to private sector entities that are operating it. That is a great model of cooperation. It’s a wonderful way to expand Internet access, capitalize Internet access, but it is not what I would call a partnership any more than I partner with Exon to drive across the city. We will continue to see more talk of public private partnerships than we actually see real partnerships because I think municipalities, having with them having to do most of the work and then have the final connectivity be delivered by private firms.
Lisa Gonzalez: We've had quite a few stories in the news lately about this community is talking about it, that community is considering it, putting in municipal networks, building infrastructure. Do you think that the actual deployment will possibly not happen as quickly now based on what's happening at the federal level with the administration.
Christopher Mitchell: No, I think it's going to ramp up.
Lisa Gonzalez: Because they're going to hurry up and try to get it done?
Christopher Mitchell: I just don't think the Trump administration or the FCC is going to do much to hinder municipal broadband. I think they're going to do nothing to help it. I think they may speak out against it but I think that it will be in the states where many possible new barriers will be created. I think there will be many debates. I don't think we'll see significant new barriers. I think we have so many models now that we'll see cities just continuing to move forward. This is a dynamic that is just too powerful at the local level. Frankly it's not even a situation where I can be like, Our ideas are so brilliant people can't help but be swept away with them. No. The point is that the situation is so dire in communities are not doing something that they have to do something. That is the dynamic that will continue to get worse.
Nick Stumo-Langer: True that.
Christopher Mitchell: I feel like I've left everyone speechless.
Nick Stumo-Langer: I do have one more prediction. Just to mention. I do have one more prediction. I think there is going to be some tension between investing in renewable energy by electric cooperatives and investing in broadband service. The two aren't necessarily comparable as far as the investment goes and as far as the movements behind them go. I think that media folks will still say, Oh you can only do one of those things. We've proven between cross initiative work with our energy democratize initiative that that's not true. They can do both. It's something that is maybe late in the storyline that we have to keep pushing.
Christopher Mitchell: I do not expect to see many areas in that. This will be one where one of us will be proven wrong. I think we'll see co ops continuing to do both because I think both will be very popular in most areas. I'll be curious to see. One of the challenges I think that the co ops have with the energy side rather than the fiber side is that they have these long term power purchase agreements but I think that energy, electric cooperatives will recognize that if they build fiber they're more likely to have an increasing rate base, an increasing number of entities that are purchasing Internet from them and that will help to justify their further investments in new generation capacity. We'll see who's right and wrong. I don't follow it as closely as you do frankly so I could be way out on a limb here.
Nick Stumo-Langer: I'm okay with being wrong about this one too. I just always want to set up a win win proposition for my predictions.
Christopher Mitchell: Right. I predict doom.
Nick Stumo-Langer: Then I'll be sitting on a molten lava rock saying, Hey I was right.
Christopher Mitchell: Exactly. Well thank you everyone for listening. Please do check our ILSR.org to donate or go to MuniNetworks.org to donate. There are buttons that will speed you in the right direction. We very much need your support and we thank you for your time. We ask people to send in some predictions but we actually had to really cajole people and we didn't get very many so I do thank the two of you that left predictions we decided to just keep this an ILSR predictions show. All right thank you everyone for coming into my office, my tiny, apparently, office for this show and I thank you for the predictions.
Hannah Trostle: Yeah, thank you.
Christopher Mitchell: Thank you Nick for visiting our office. Nick had been with us but has since moved to DC. Boo.
Lisa Gonzalez: Boo.
Nick Stumo-Langer: That's what happens when I come here. They just boo me.
Christopher Mitchell: Thank you everyone for listening and we look forward to getting back into the normal interview podcast starting next week.
Lisa Gonzalez: That was Christopher, Hannah, Nick, and me from ILSR discussing events in the world of telecommunications from 2016 and making some predictions for 2017. We want to thank Rebecca for calling in with her own funny predictions and Jeff, one of our strong supporters for also offering a bit of humor through sayings, as read by Hannah, at the beginning of the show. Remember we have transcripts for this and other Community Broadband Bits podcasts available at MuniNetworks.org/broadbandbits. Email us at podcast@MuniNetworks.org for ideas for the show. Follow Chris on Twitter. His handle is @CommunityNets. Follow MuniNetworks.org stories on Twitter where the handle is @MuniNetworks. Subscribe to this podcast and all of the podcasts on the ILSR family on iTunes, Stitcher, or wherever else you get your podcasts. Never miss out on our original research by also subscribing to our monthly newsletter at ILSR.org. Thank you to Admiral Bob for the song Turbo Tornado licensed through Creative Commons and thanks for listening to episode 234 of the Community Broadband Bits podcast. All of us at ILSR and the Community Broadband Bits Network Initiative wish you a restful and joyous holiday season. We wish you all the best in the new year.
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