Fast, affordable Internet access for all.
Transcript: Community Broadband Bits Episode 402
This is the transcript for episode 402 of the Community Broadband Bits podcast. In this episode, Christopher speaks with Jonathan Chambers, partner at Conexon about how Rural Digital Opportunity Fund (RDOF) differs from Connect America Fund. The pair also discuss how the FCC should move the auction process so that local ISPs can quickly start connecting rural households during the pandemic. Listen to the episode, or read the transcript below.
Jonathan Chambers: This approach is that the winners and losers are not chosen in Washington. They're chosen at the local level by whether somebody's willing to step up, build a network, provide service.
Jess Del Fiacco: Welcome to episode 402 of the Community Broadband Bits Podcast from the Institute for Local Self-Reliance. This is Jess Del Fiacco, Communications Manager. We have Jonathan Chambers back on the show today. Jon is a partner at Conexon, which works with rural electric cooperatives to expand Fiber-to-the-Home in rural areas. In this episode, Christopher and Jon discuss the Rural Digital Opportunity Fund or RDOF. They discuss the eligibility and auction process for RDOF and how it is related to the Connect America Fund. Jon breaks down some of the differences between the two programs, including that RDOF will be more influenced by local initiatives than the Connect America Fund was.
Jess Del Fiacco: And Jon and Christopher discuss why these changes should result in better networks and better service for rural areas. Before we get started, we have a quick question for our listeners. We recognize that news is happening quickly these days. That's why we're releasing this episode ahead of our usual schedule. We want to know if you'd prefer shorter, more frequent episodes of this podcast, or if you'd rather we stick with our standard weekly schedule. We always want to do what works best for you, so leave a comment on this episode post, send us an email at email@example.com, or reach out to us on social media to let us know what you think. Now, here's Christopher talking with Jon Chambers of Conexon.
Christopher Mitchell: Welcome to another episode of the Community Broadband Bits Podcast headset edition. Hope my voice is coming through okay, but this is having some technical difficulties with the working from home. Nonetheless, I have a wonderful guest, a repeat offender, Jon Chambers, partner at Conexon. Welcome back to the show.
Jonathan Chambers: Thank you, Chris. Thanks for having me. Good to talk to you as always.
Christopher Mitchell: Yes, and we're going to be talking about rural broadband subsidies, the program that's been set up and it may or may not happen this year now as everything seems up in the air, but for people who are brand new to the show, why don't you tell us a little bit about what Conexon does?
Jonathan Chambers: We do one thing. We work with rural electric cooperatives across the country helping them plan for design, construct, operate, maintain fiber optic networks. The only thing we do are Fiber-to-the-Home networks. It's the technology we believe in. It's the only thing we think that anyone should invest their funds in.
Christopher Mitchell: And depending on how we count, there's now more than 100 rural electric cooperatives that have customers who are turned on with fiber optic broadband networks. I mean, you actually tend to follow this a little more closely than we do. We do our best, but is that number about right?
Jonathan Chambers: You'd think that it'd be easy to know that number, and we work with well over 150 co-ops today, over 40 of which have built and are operating fiber networks. I'd say the majority of the rest of them are in areas where the population density is so sparse that it does require some kind of public support, grant subsidy, which is my lead in to the Rural Digital Opportunity Fund. I think that once this Rural Digital Opportunity Fund gets up and running and produces the opportunity, we'll have 50 to 100 additional electric co-ops get into the business.
Christopher Mitchell: That's excellent. And for people who need a little bit of background, we've covered this numerous times before, but the Rural Digital Opportunity Fund ultimately will be a $20 billion auction process. It is the third round effectively of the Connect America Fund approach to expanding broadband in rural areas, and in particular, this is kind of the end of what you and I would consider just tragic and incredibly frustrating lost opportunities in which companies like AT&T and CenturyLink and Frontier got billions of dollars to build obsolete connections. They're still cashing checks this month, next month, all the way through December, but very soon we will see an auction process that will open that up and we believe make better use of the money. You think that's a pretty accurate description for someone who's not all that familiar with the process?
Jonathan Chambers: It may seem to some people that this, the new fund that was announced last year by Chairman Pai, this new program, it may seem like it's new. This particular latest evolution started in 2011, and from 2011 to today, until later this year and before the funds start flowing next year, will be a decades-long process to finally take what had been subsidies that are given to one type of company, telephone companies, with regulatory requirements to produce a minimal level of service, to change that entire construct, to be one where funding is made available to those who would provide the best level of service, and the process by which the funding is given out is through an auction process.
Jonathan Chambers: It may seem like it all is going to come in a rush, 16, $20 billion for the next 10 years, but in the last 10 years, the FCC has spent $45 billion for a combination of four megabit per second service in some places, 10 megabits per second service in some places and 25 megabits per second service in some places. So this RDOF has that chance to produce Fiber-to-the-Home networks in large parts of the country, capable of 10 Gigabit per second services. It's a dramatic change. It's just like a lot of things in life. It's not an overnight change. It's a 10-year long process.
Christopher Mitchell: And I think what you noted in terms of the four megabit, the 10 megabit, the 25 megabit connections, those were the minimum required. And in some cases that's a generous minimum. I don't think we're actually seeing the testing yet to find out if companies like AT&T and Frontier are actually meeting that minimum. But on the plus side, I know that some of the smaller companies did in fact invest in fiber optic technology. But our collective frustration is that that money wasn't used entirely for technologies that are future-proof, that can provide a high quality of service in rural areas that is similar to what we expect in urban areas, which has been how we treated telecommunications from the beginning, more or less of telecommunications.
Jonathan Chambers: Yeah. This is a long-standing debate. It goes back to the 1996 Telecommunications Act and the years prior to that, the debate as to whether areas of the country were so sparse that the only way you could support any type of service, electric service, telephone service, broadband service, would be to have a single monopoly which was regulated and which received guaranteed rates of return or guaranteed subsidies. Not just the last 10 years I talked about, but this is now after 25 years, finally a change that you can see taking place across the country. A long-standing theory that only one company could survive anywhere and therefore we should provide it with funds, guaranteed payments and regulated versus the other theory, which is, this market is like a lot of markets.
Jonathan Chambers: If you allow for people to compete in the marketplace, you'll get the best results. And, of course, there will be areas that get better service and areas that get worse service. I'll always remember somebody telling me when I first joined the FCC years ago, I didn't stay very long, but when I was first at the FCC, somebody saying, "We take the spread the peanut butter thin approach." Everybody gets the minimum. And, I don't know, I don't want to take this analogy too far. I'm more like a chunky peanut type. I think-
Christopher Mitchell: Yuck.
Jonathan Chambers: I think you get this approach, the approach that the FCC is taking now is going to produce inconsistent results across the country. There will be parts of the country with terrific service, rural areas with Fiber-to-the-Home service, with world-class service. And there will be parts of the country without. And it's going to be a sorting over time. If you believe in competition, you don't have to believe in the results of competition, which is that the best does win out, but it doesn't win out everywhere.
Christopher Mitchell: One of the things that I think is important about that is that I don't think we will see massive regions in which there's no access. I think we will see that areas that, for instance, have well-organized and well-run cooperatives, we'll see better access. I think areas in which counties are better organized will find ways of improving their situation. And so this isn't a situation in which the federal government is picking the winners and losers, to use a phrase that is often loaded, but there's no getting around the fact that there are going to be winners and losers.
Jonathan Chambers: Yeah, but this is, and you just put your finger on it, this approach, and that's why I'm so supportive, but I realize that not everybody is, this approach is that the winners and losers are not chosen in Washington. They're chosen at the local level by whether somebody is willing to step up, build a network, provide service. This is so much more a local initiative approach to building broadband. I don't think that's quite appreciated. The reason that I'm so enamored by electric co-ops and the way electric co-ops were organized, arranged themselves, built networks, sustain those networks, stayed in those local communities, and by and large the same electric networks that was started in 1930s is that it is local. Locally owned, locally controlled. Membership-owned networks where the boards come from the community. That's really what we're talking about here with broadband, making broadband in rural areas look a lot more like rural electric co-ops have looked like for 80 years.
Jonathan Chambers: We also think that electric networks themselves, since they have a requirement to get fiber built into the networks for a whole host of reasons that I won't bore you with, we think that the electric networks of the future are a combination of electric and fiber networks, and that it's electric cooperatives that are taking the lead. And it's not taking the lead on... you're sort of touching on this a little bit. You can't tell me, if you're just in some part of the country, you can't tell me whether something like this is going to take hold or not. We work a lot in Mississippi and in Arkansas and in Oklahoma and in Missouri, and in parts of the country that are the poorest counties in the states, the poorest parts of the nation, and it's in those parts of the country that we find folks are having the most success in building these networks. This is local initiative. It has to come from leadership at the local level. It is the furthest thing from a program dictated by an office building at 12th and D Street in Southwest Washington, D.C.
Christopher Mitchell: I'm going to ask you about SpaceX in a second, but I want to cover one other thing that I think people should be aware of, and that's how the reverse auction works, which is just to say that, let's assume that there's a set of territories that there is a subsidy available for, and I would say I'm willing to build a fiber optic network. They're offering gigabit service and I will need some amount of money per household in order to do that. And then if you were to say, "Well, I can do Gigabit at a lower amount," then you would beat me in that auction. And it gets more complicated because there's different tiers of service, and there's package bidding and things like that. But fundamentally the auction works in that, in a list of available areas that are up for auction, we're looking for service providers that can build the best network at the lowest cost effectively to the Universal Service Fund.
Jonathan Chambers: Yeah. So there's been a twist in a very positive direction with the auction design.
Christopher Mitchell: One that you were involved with.
Jonathan Chambers: I gave a lot of credit to Chairman Pai for adopting this proposal. Yes. But for adopting this proposal. And that is, it isn't quite the best network at the lowest cost. The current design of the Rural Digital Opportunity Fund auction is the best network for the budget, the best network. That's a really different approach. The actual auction is referred to as... It's a reverse auction. It's a descending clock reverse auction that's in two stages. To unpack that a little bit, the reverse part just means, in a forward auction you're bidding for items. You say, "What am I bid for this something? This vase?" I bid $100. They'll start the bidding at $100. That's the reserve price, and people bid it up. That's a forward auction.
Jonathan Chambers: In a reverse auction, you're bidding for money. In a reverse auction, the reverse part is, you say, "Who would be willing to provide service?" That's the unit you're agreeing to, that's your obligation. "Who's willing to provide service for $100?" And then the descending part is, after you say you have more than one person willing to provide service in a specific geographic area for $100, then the question is, "Okay, who's willing to provide service for $90?" So the descending, instead of the bidding going up, the bidding goes down and when you have one bidder remaining, that bidder wins.
Jonathan Chambers: Here's the twist. The FCC has said that when they have sufficient budget for all the bids everywhere across the country, that they will, at that point, you get to what's called the budget clearing round. The FCC will establish the budget clearing around price point and at that point they will award funding to the highest tier, that is the highest performance tier in every geographic area where there's a bidder. So, Gigabit-tier bidding wins. Whether or not somebody would be willing to build a lesser network for less money, the FCC is prepared to award funds to the best level of service, not the cheapest level of service. That's almost a commonplace, "Sure, why wouldn't you do that," kind of an approach. It's revolutionary in terms of like in FCC or regulatory speak. It's a regulatory revolution.
Christopher Mitchell: I quite like that provision. Just so people are fully understanding, then, the terminology clearing means when... If we have $17 million available, if... for all of the awards, all totaled together, and all of these areas are added up, means that at that point the $17 billion would cover everything. That means it clears, right?
Jonathan Chambers: Yeah. So to use the actual numbers in this auction, if you add up every single reserve price, and the reserve prices are determined by the FCC's cost model, if you add up every reserve price and every eligible census block across the country, you get $29 billion. That's from information the FCC released last week. The budget for this auction is 16 billion. There's two phases to the auction, but the first phase is 16 billion. So you have $29 billion chasing 16. So you have to have round after round.
Jonathan Chambers: First you have your opening round and you add up all of the bids everywhere across the country, and you add up that amount of money, and that's the total amount of bidding pressure you have. And to the extent round after round that the total bidding pressure is above $16 billion, the auction continues. You go to the next round. Once you add up all of the bidding across the country and you get one penny below $16 billion, the budget clears. You get to the clearing round, and it's at that point that whatever the clearing round price is, that Gigabit tier beats a 100 megabit tier, a 100 megabit tier beats 50 megs, 50 meg beats 25, that is the FCC will award funding to the highest tier at that point within their budget.
Christopher Mitchell: One of the interesting things that came along, I mean, you and I have been very much in agreement regarding the foolishness of putting federal dollars after geostationary satellite, which is to say the Viasat, the HughesNet, the sort of satellite services that even most people in rural America have rejected despite wanting Internet access. And having that as their only option, a majority of them have decided not to use it because it is encumbered by high prices and low performance and all kinds of problems. And the FCC has a list of technologies that cannot bid at certain levels. For instance, we know that DSL cannot deliver Gigabit, and so if you're bidding with DSL's technology, you're not allowed to bid to deliver Gigabit. And for a long time the rules were set, or appeared to be set, such that satellite technologies could not bid for Gigabit. And then, let me just have you pick up the story there, because it seems to me just repeating the mistakes of 1996 in terms of just assuming that promising technologies will pan out.
Jonathan Chambers: The way the FCC operates under the chairman currently is, three weeks before a vote they release a draft order, a draft public notice, whatever draft that they're going to vote on. And then, in the intervening weeks before the votes, lobbying goes on. It's a shock, isn't it?
Christopher Mitchell: Right. Good and bad. I mean, if you're just going to be overly simplistic, let's say good and bad lobbying takes place.
Jonathan Chambers: You know, it's in the constitution. You can seek redress from your government. I'm not against lobbyists. I didn't want them in my past life. So the FCC released a public notice setting out its rules for the auction and its procedures for the auction. So this was what's called a Procedures Public Notice. And the procedures largely followed the same procedures that were used in the Connect America Fund auction, which said that the only folks that could bid at the highest tier, the only technology that folks could use to bid at the highest tier, was technology that was already in use, by demonstration of having offered service already and submitted to the FCC as they collect information every six months under what's the form number is... Form 477, only for technologies where people had reported on their Forms 477 that they offer Gigabit service. Seems simple enough, right? Don't give money to somebody for a technology that doesn't actually... isn't proven to offer the service. So that was the approach that they had taken here.
Christopher Mitchell: If I could jump in for a second, I mean, for instance, one of the reasons for that is that a technology may work well. If you remember when 4G LTE came out, man, it was great because there was like three people with 4G LTE phones. And if you expected the same performance then that happened when millions of people had those phones, it's a whole different world. And this stuff's complicated, and so, even stuff that looks like it'll work may get complicated when a million people try to use it simultaneously.
Jonathan Chambers: In the past, the FCC has followed an approach where it would spend public funds on the tried and true technologies, those that had already been deployed and operate in the public marketplace so that you can see the performance. It's not, again, not that radical a notion. Leave speculation to venture capital. Use public funds for that which has already been proven. That's the approach. The FCC released... It voted on this public notice and released it, and when they released it, they had changed the language and they had changed it in a particular way to open the door to low Earth orbiting satellites to bid at the Gigabit tier, which is a service that they don't provide today because they don't provide any service today. And so it is an unproven technology, an unproven approach. We're currently in a public comment period. The FCC hasn't resolved the question. I don't think it's a big deal for the FCC to ask the question. You know, it's fine. This is a rule making. You ask questions, you get public responses, and then you make a decision.
Jonathan Chambers: It would be a really big deal to open up the public purse to a speculative venture like any of the low Earth orbiting satellites. If they prove themselves out, if they can deliver Gigabit service over a period of time and report to the FCC, just like everybody else has to do, then maybe at a future auction they'd be admitted to bid at that tier. But that's not the way the rules have ever been written before. That's not the approach anybody's taken before. And look, everybody will find advances in their technologies. So this is unfair to every other technology who might say, "Oh, but my technology will evolve and eventually be able to provide Gigabit service." I'm sure the fixed wireless providers would say that. So to treat low Earth orbiting satellites as a special case, that is to give them a special benefit, different than every other technology, than every other service provider, than every other company, it would be highly unusual. I don't expect that's what will happen, but, like they say, watch this space.
Christopher Mitchell: So, Jon, this is an issue in which I feel like... I know that you have a very defensible position on some people that I quite respect take a disagreement, and I just can't make up my own mind on it because I see that it's frustrating on both sides. And this has to do with what some are calling stacking. The idea that if you accept money from the FCC in this auction process, you are not supposed to accept other money as well, which is also to say that census blocks that are getting money from a state or some other program like ReConnect and USDA are not supposed to be eligible then for money from the Connect America Fund. And so, if you want to walk us through why we should not have stacking, then I'll be happy to try and complicate that a little bit.
Jonathan Chambers: Yeah, so I have both a policy view and a practical view on that. My policy view is, I agree with the FCC's approach. If a state or a federal agency, state agency has provided funding for broadband in an area and the recipient is offering service or is gotten money to offer service that exceeds the FCC's threshold, the minimum of 25/3 threshold, then, you know, public money is scarce. Don't duplicate public money. I agree with the approach what the FCC has adopted.
Jonathan Chambers: They're going to try to cull the list of eligible census blocks to remove from the list, from the RDOF auction, anywhere where someone has received state funding or reconnect funding, which is an RUS program. Again, as a policy matter, I think that's the right policy. As a practical matter, I think it takes too much time, just like I think it takes too much time for another decision the FCC made, which was to allow for carriers to update or challenge or produce new information that would challenge the current FCC's eligible block list. In other words, to remove additional areas because somebody is claiming service, and again this is a claim of service. They don't have to prove anything.
Christopher Mitchell: Yeah, it's so frustrating because... Then you almost want to then have a challenge for the challenge process.
Jonathan Chambers: Then you'd want to challenge process, and when the FCC conducted a true challenge process prior to the CAF II, the right of first refusal process, it took two years, or 18 months. It took an inordinate amount of time and very little was changed at the end of the day. And the reason very little gets changed is you do have this challenge and counter challenge and here's what we don't have for either of those things. You could say both are the right policy. They're the right policy because you want the right results. You want money targeted, you want scarce dollars spent wisely. All of that's true.
Jonathan Chambers: Here's what we don't have today. We don't have time. We're out of time. The nation is in crisis and as anyone who lives in a rural area would tell you today, living in an area in today's society without access to broadband is living at an extreme disadvantage. Can your kids go to school today? My kids are at home. They're at home because all the schools in my area are shut down, and my schools are having online classes. If I were living in a rural area where my kids don't have access to school because they don't have access to online classes and the school was shut down, what are you telling them?
Christopher Mitchell: Yes.
Jonathan Chambers: I'm working from home. Easy for me to work from home.
Christopher Mitchell: Right. So, the reason that I agree with you on that is, I find it very frustrating that there are places here in Minnesota in which credible estimates suggest the public, through local subsidies, state subsidies and federal, are paying 90% of the cost of building Fiber-to-the-Home that CenturyLink will loan. It's not in many places, but I find that principle odious, that we would put that much public money into something that people have no control over the future of the governance, the rate structure, any of these sort of decisions. And so, for that reason, I'm frustrated with the idea of stacking subsidies, particularly because it's companies that have massive staffs that can figure out how to do this. Small companies are going to be much less able to be able to figure out how to navigate all these different processes.
Christopher Mitchell: At the same time, when I talk with my friend Matt Schmidt who is now working with the State of Illinois and he looks at it and he says, "Well," and this would be my interpretation of what he would say, because he would not say it in this way, but, "If Illinois gets stuck with census blocks in which the FCC has decided that it's going to subsidize some lame 25 megabit connection, then Illinois would like to take a shot at improving that in order to make sure that those folks have better access." And that to me seems like a reasonable argument because there is so little local input into how this decision is made.
Jonathan Chambers: You understand my general view, which is, money for broadband, solving the rural broadband problem, is not that difficult, and that most of the efforts to date, federal and state efforts have reduced the prospects that you'll get through broadband. Money is spent and given to somebody for some minimal level of service which makes it harder for somebody else to come in and compete. The wrong levels of service are set. The wrong geographic, and the designations are set. You make it too difficult for one type of company or another type of company. I think it's all much simpler and maybe that's just the way my mind works. I think we need to set a national priority and a national priority is for fiber to every home in the country.
Jonathan Chambers: Now you and I may disagree as to either the public ownership with public funds, or how it's operated or all the rest of it, but I think the one great failing of the past administration, less so the current one, but the current administration, too, is that the definition of what's necessary often does get set at the top. If you set a speed as your standard, you'll get speeds. If you set capacity, you'll get capacity. If you say fiber, you will get fiber. And there are those, I suppose, who will argue that there's something better than fiber out there, but man, they've not been in my business.
Christopher Mitchell: Five years ago I pooh-poohed the idea of fixed wireless doing very much. Increasingly I think fixed wireless will provide essential competition, but I strongly believe that we should set a national priority of fiber everywhere, and in areas in which... that we don't see the fiber being managed in ways that people like, whether it's how it's priced or the services or reliability or whatever. I think there's opportunities for fixed wireless technologies to be used in different business models. I remain extremely concerned about the fixed wireless technology and the business model of certain companies, which is not to say anything about all fixed wireless companies, but there are many who I think are just trying to figure out how to... if you can serve 70% of a region, that's good enough. And that just leaves us with a massive public policy problem. So I'm strongly supportive of a fiber policy set at the highest levels.
Jonathan Chambers: If I have one complaint, and I guess I complain as much as the next guy, but one complaint about the RDOF, about most state programs, about the general policy approach, is that it will leave some folks with a lesser level of service over a long period of time, and there won't be other funding. If it's satellite, and there will be a lot of satellite pay for out of RDOF, if it's fixed wireless. If it's other levels of service, that's it. The FCC has spent its money. It's spent a decade's worth of money and they're not going to say later, they're not going to say in two years, "Oh, there's somebody else now willing to build a fiber network. Okay, we're going to make more money available for you," or, "We're going to take the money away from the person that won it before."
Jonathan Chambers: So, back to what I was saying earlier, you'll get this unevenness across the country. Not everybody is ready. Not everybody has a local institution that's capable of building a Fiber-to-the-Home network and operating it. You won't get that. I do think we need to get started, but I do worry about spending public money on technologies that are only meant to last for three years or five years and then you got to come back and spend the public money again.
Christopher Mitchell: So you have a proposal that is detailed on the Conexon site, on the blog that's there. It went up I think March 23rd, maybe, or something like that, but definitely here recently. I am curious if you can just give us a thumbnail sketch of why everything's changed in the past two weeks. I mean, this is a time in which we've gone from thinking there could be an issue to kind of come into grips with the fact that many of us are going to be leaving our homes very infrequently for several weeks. But what does that mean for what Congress should do in regard to RDOF, and more broadly, rural broadband?
Jonathan Chambers: I do think the RDOF is a great program. What I wrote in the blog and what I'm advocating for is that they accelerate the implementation of it. The FCC has an awful lot to do in a short period of time, and I'm worried they won't get their work done and this program will slip. And I think, as what I was saying before, the one thing I think the country doesn't have anymore is time. We have a lot of time hanging around our houses, I guess. We don't have time to build these networks. I work for a 50 to 100 electric co-ops right now who'd be prepared to start building fiber networks in rural areas if the RDOF program were implemented today. Under the current timetable, it will be implemented at the end of this year, into next year, and into 2022. I think it needs to be implemented more quickly, and I have made a proposal about how to accelerate the implementation without changing the nature of the program, without changing the auction rules, without changing the amounts of money. Just an acceleration approach.
Jonathan Chambers: And I think it's something that Congress could take up and pass. It wouldn't cost any money. And now that the whatever time this recording will be released, Congress has just voted to spend $2-plus trillion. This wouldn't be any additional appropriation by Congress. No additional expenditure. It just moves the timetable, and that's my main emphasis in all of this. It's time. We have folks ready to go to work now building networks. It's one of the few things you can do under the current crisis.
Jonathan Chambers: You can build networks, you can be outside, you can replace poles, you can string strand, you can lash fiber, you can do all of the steps necessary to get fiber out into rural areas. And it produces economic activity because where you're building, you've got construction workers, you've got activity today, which then leads to the economic activity of the future because you'll be enabling through the networks, the kinds of social health care, educational, all of everything that people do by living on the Internet will be enabled in rural areas. So, that's my long-winded way of saying, we're ready now. Let's get started now. Let's move the timetable for the RDOF process up.
Christopher Mitchell: Great. Thank you, Jon.
Jonathan Chambers: Thank you, Chris.
Jess Del Fiacco: That was Christopher talking with Jon Chambers of Conexon. You can learn more about Jon's proposal to speed up the RDOF program in response to the COVID-19 pandemic in his recent blog post at Conexon's website. That's Conexon.US. We have transcripts for this and other podcasts available at muninetworks.org/broadbandbits. Email us at firstname.lastname@example.org with your ideas for the show. Follow Chris on Twitter. His handle is @communitynets. Follow muninetworks.org stories on Twitter. The handle is @muninetworks. Subscribe to this podcast and the other podcasts from ILSR, Building Local Power, Local Energy Rules, and The Composting for Community podcast. You can access them anywhere you get your podcasts. You can catch the latest important research from all of our initiatives if you subscribe to the monthly newsletter at ilsr.org. While you're there, please take a moment to donate. Your support in any amount keeps us going. Thank you to Arne Huseby for the song Warm Duck Shuffle, licensed through Creative Commons. This was episode 402 of the Community Broadband Bits Podcast. Thanks for listening.
This is the transcript for Episode 494 of the Community Broadband Bits Podcast. In this episode, Christopher speaks with Will Anderson, Program Coordinator at Vermont Communications Union Districts Association (VCUDA) and Evan Carlson, Board Chair at NEK Broadband (Northeast Kingdom, VT). They discuss the success of Communications Utility Districts in connecting Vermonters.
This is the transcript for Episode 492 of the Community Broadband Bits Podcast. In this episode, Christopher speaks with Joe Poire, Director of Petrichor Broadband in Whitman County, Washington.
This is the transcript for Episode 428 of the Community Broadband Bits Podcast. In this episode, Christopher speaks with PJ Armstrong, Interim General Manager at Monmouth Independence Networks (MINET) operating in Oregon’s Willamette Valley. They discuss the history of MINET, and where it is going next.
This is the transcript for Episode 490 of the Community Broadband Bits Podcast. In this episode, Christopher speaks with Bob Marshall, General Manager of the Plumas-Sierra Rural Electric Cooperative and the Plumas-Sierra Telecommunications Company.
This is the transcript for episode 489 of the Community Broadband Bits podcast. On this episode, Christopher Mitchell is joined by Matt Schmit, Director of the Illinois Office of Broadband and Chair of Illinois Broadband Advisory Council. They talk about Illinois' approach to funding statewide broadband initiatives.