Fast, affordable Internet access for all.
Year in Review 2022 - Episode 532 of the Community Broadband Bits Podcast
It's December, which means it's time to pull the staff together and get a handle on what happened in the broadband landscape in 2022. Joining Christopher is GIS and Data Visualization Specialist Christine Parker, Associate Researcher Emma Gautier, Outreach Team Lead DeAnne Cuellar, Senior Reporter and Communications Team Lead Sean Gonsalves, and Senior Researcher and Research Team Lead Ry Marcattilio.
Fitting all of those titles into one recording studio was a real project, but it led to a constructive conversation about preemption laws, the broadband nutrition label, BEAD funding and the new Broadband Data Collection (BDC) process, the supply chain, and more. There were a couple of surprises in 2022, and the staff reckons with how their predictions from last year held up in the face of things.
We want your feedback and suggestions for the show-please e-mail us or leave a comment below.
Listen to other episodes here or view all episodes in our index. See other podcasts from the Institute for Local Self-Reliance here.
Thanks to Arne Huseby for the music. The song is Warm Duck Shuffle and is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution (3.0) license.
Christopher Mitchell (00:07):
Welcome to another episode of the Community Broadband Bits podcast. I'm Christopher Mitchell at the Institute for Local Self-Reliance, and we've got the whole community broadband networks crew in the Zoom lab to do this. I was gonna say in the studio, but we're not, and we're not even in the same state. but we are all in the same Zoom room, and we got a lot of enthusiasm to think about what we said last year was gonna happen and how that's going. I'm introduce everyone. I'll start with Ry Ray Marillo McCracken, the longest name welcome.
Ry Marcattilio-McCracken (00:44):
Thank you for having me, Chris. I appreciate it. It's good to be here with all of you. I'd like to just get ahead of it this morning and apologize for any low energy I might have. I don't know what kind of sociopath schedules a podcast recording first thing on a Friday morning before Christmas break. But so if it seems like I'm distracting
Christopher Mitchell (01:01):
You, you're working next week. I don't know what you're talking about. This is, I started vacation last night. <laugh> <laugh>. I'm the one that should be complaining <laugh>. And as for what kind of sociopath, I, I get that question a lot. we also got Sean Gonsalves. Welcome.
Ry Marcattilio-McCracken (01:16):
Glad to be in the
Christopher Mitchell (01:17):
Cbn Zoom, zoom room. The Mazda room. we got Emma Gautier welcome.
Emma Gautier (01:22):
Thank you. it's Gautier, but
Christopher Mitchell (01:28):
You know, at some point I'll remember that I, I mispronounced Ernie Statons name, the guy from Fairlawn the Director of public service there, or the public. He's a director of infrastructure's. How I think of him, I forget what his actual title is, and I've only mispronounced it every time I've talked to him. Oh,
Ry Marcattilio-McCracken (01:42):
It's not Statin.
Christopher Mitchell (01:43):
No, it is not. It is not. He's not from the, the island of Boro of New York. we also got DeAnne Cuellar, who's taken a drink of blood orange soda right now.
DeAnne Cuellar (01:53):
<laugh>, yes, because I too am low energy this morning. And also on Emma's name, how can you forget how to say her name? It's also like the same name as a band with one of the most famous breakup songs on the planet.
Christopher Mitchell (02:06):
Never heard of 'em. <laugh>. No. Goodness. Nope.
DeAnne Cuellar (02:10):
That's impossible. It's impossible that you haven't heard that song.
Christopher Mitchell (02:15):
<laugh>. I'm a sociopath. <laugh>. We got Christine Parker, who might not be able to say anything cuz she's laughing too hard at me.
Christine Parker (02:22):
good morning. Yes. I am also part of the Low Energy Crew this morning.
Christopher Mitchell (02:27):
<laugh>. Hey, I'm, I get up outta bed. I'm excited to tackle the day. we're gonna go over some of the predictions we made a year ago for how this year was gonna go. Think, review some things that were going on. the most important one though, the one that's been burning a hole in my head is did you make it into the office more than 10 times this year?
Ry Marcattilio-McCracken (02:47):
Oh, good question. I think it was close. I think it was probably close.
Christopher Mitchell (02:52):
more importantly, perhaps we hit more than 500 Community Broadband Bits podcast. That was awesome. Of the numbered episodes we did we did four fricking tribal broadband boot camps. <laugh>, I remember a year ago thinking about whether or not that could be done and how challenging it would be an absent coronavirus with Omicron which I got during the time. We were supposed to have the first bootcamp in January. We probably would've hit the fifth one. or for the year. that one will be in January in Hela River. so that was a remarkable year. and yeah, I mean, we're a bit smaller than we were at the beginning of the year. We've slimmed down a little bit. We've lost two great fellows that were with us last year. but we have some great core staff here, and it's gonna be an exciting year. Let's just let's go around a little bit and everyone can just say like, before we get into the actual predictions, which we'll get into what's like one reflection that you have on, on the year? And lemme, I'm just judging by your facial reactions. Who wants to go first? I'm seeing Christine is ready to go first.
Christine Parker (04:00):
<laugh> it was not in fact, but I will <laugh>. We made a dashboard, we made a couple dashboards, <laugh>, and it became a big deal.
Christopher Mitchell (04:10):
<laugh> really great dashboards.
Sean Gonsalves (04:12):
Christopher Mitchell (04:13):
I had a dream of dashboards and I feel like y'all really knocked it outta the park, so that's wonderful. The ACP dashboard.com is everything that I hoped it would be, and it's, I think it's super cool and people are using it.
Ry Marcattilio-McCracken (04:25):
I'm surprised you brought up Christine, given that I think the word dashboard is, is banned in your house or has
Christine Parker (04:30):
Been? It is. It is. I have to use other forms of communicating about that, that item in our home. <laugh>, I have such fond, fond feelings about it at times. <laugh>.
Christopher Mitchell (04:43):
Yeah. But someone had to do it. And it was you, <laugh>. Yep.
Christine Parker (04:47):
Christopher Mitchell (04:49):
let's go to Sean. Sean, what's your reflection
Sean Gonsalves (04:51):
To celebrate the small victories? I think in this space you have to do that because it can be frustrating to see the needle move in small directions, but so you gotta celebrate the small victories.
Christopher Mitchell (05:02):
So do you have any small victories you're gonna reflect on for the year?
Sean Gonsalves (05:06):
Christopher Mitchell (05:07):
No necessarily ones that other people will care about.
Sean Gonsalves (05:10):
<laugh>, I keep going back to, I, I guess it's, it's, it's the success of Fair Lawn and, and I love the story about how they were able to boost speeds. They have a great take rate. They were, they're slashing prices and I just love a story about $55 a month gig connections. and that's
Christopher Mitchell (05:30):
68% of the people in the town are taking service from that network. Remarkable, lovely
Sean Gonsalves (05:34):
Story. Yeah, I love that story. Speaking of Ernie Ms. Goutier? <laugh>
Emma Gautier (05:43):
Yeah, I'll piggyback on the dashboard. I think it was a pretty cool thing to put out a big tool that I think we got a lot of feedback that people were using. I mean, I was just talking to folks from N D I A specifically Abby last week, and she said, I use that all the time. We refer to people, we refer people to that dashboard all the time. And that was really good to hear. I also feel like putting out tools like that is a good beacon for feedback and communication with other orgs in terms of how we think about what we're advocating for, how we like just put together tools like that, how we like, figure out what's useful to people. I think it's really helpful to be
Christopher Mitchell (06:24):
All right. That's, that's enough about the dashboard. Emma, you said that one of your best experiences with I L S R occurred last week. So how could that not be the highlight of your year?
Emma Gautier (06:33):
Well, that was a huge personal highlight, but said, make it relevant to other folks. <laugh>. Yeah. I attended my first Travel Broadway bootcamp last week, and it was the highlight of, yeah, probably my year and my time at Islas are really, really great to meet everyone there, participants and instructors
Christopher Mitchell (06:53):
Get out from under Rise Thumb,
Emma Gautier (06:56):
<laugh>. Sorry, Ry that you couldn't make it <laugh>, but yeah, I had a really excellent time.
Christopher Mitchell (07:05):
Yeah. Last week was not the highlight of RISE's Career <laugh>, and it looks like you still got a little bit Ry just muted himself. Still got a little hangover from it. What was, what was the highlight of the year for you? Or let's what's something you're reflecting on?
Ry Marcattilio-McCracken (07:17):
So, Chris, I'm surprised you didn't mention that we did 33 episodes of the Connect This Show last year or this, this year. I don't, I don't, I didn't know that that, so
Christopher Mitchell (07:25):
We did more than half of the episodes we've done overall. That's remarkable.
Ry Marcattilio-McCracken (07:28):
It's a little bit, a little bit crazy. and a testament to the strange hold you have mostly on Kim and Doug and Travis <laugh> Yeah. Such that they're willing to just hop on hop on a live show at with a little notice and even little littler sense of what they're gonna talk about.
Christopher Mitchell (07:47):
Yeah. No, and I, I think, you know, definitely kudos back to Henry who was with us last year, who's who's moved on to a another opportunity who set us up with that platform that makes it more fun and engaging and gives us the camera views that you run. So absolutely. I think that's that's a, it is been a wonderful year for Connect this.
Ry Marcattilio-McCracken (08:05):
Christopher Mitchell (08:07):
And Deanne, Ms. Coyar I am just reflecting last couple of days on the amount of community organizing going on at every level of this work. just like if you, if you have an opportunity to join like the, not only the in-person convenings, which have been so inspirational to me too as Emma the, the bootcamps that hands-on hearing and working with communities and leaders working on these problems, but just the massive amount of coordination that's going on in, in this sector, it's, it's really, it's really interesting and it's growing and it's just really cool to see so many people involved with this issue. And it doesn't even matter if you get on a call and there's eight people. Those eight people are getting stuff done, and then you can jump on another one. There's like 300 people. I think it's really neat how this is all building up to net inclusion while there's all this like, kind of ugly stuff going on with Twitter and media ownership and it seems like we're all at the right, in the right place at the right time.
Yep. Yeah, no, I agree. And I gotta say, like I had like 5,400 followers on Twitter. I mean, they're still there. I, I took a break this week after some of the obnoxious comments from the now owner. And last night as we're recording this a bunch of journalists got banned and it sure looks bad but having some fun conversations on Mastodon and I really hope Twitter doesn't crater and burn. There's a great community on there. There's great people that are doing really interesting work. I've had so many great conversations on there. but right now I just need to take a break from it. So I, I spent the year complaining about the FCC among other things. and so I, I would celebrate that the FCC canceled the awards to L T D and starlink.
I think that was a tremendous step forward in this year for not wasting money on on investments that I think would not have done well by the communities that were intended to be served by them. So I'm extremely happy about that. I did not see that coming. I don't think I predicted that <laugh>. I think if anything throughout the year I was predicting the FCC would just punt on it and we'd all just watch it sitting there and nothing happening on it. So so that's tr tremendous. But overall, I, I think my reflection is just there's so much money coming this way. and so much of it is going to the incumbents. And intellectually I knew that was gonna happen, but watching it happen still, it's a little bit hard. seeing these companies that have served some communities so poorly and and are poised to just raise prices and to see companies getting billions of taxpayer dollars while they're buying shares back off Wall Street is gross and a total indictment of our political system.
But at the same time, I think we are moving in a path of a lot more people having internet access in rural areas. So that's good. a little bit of back and forth there. There's a couple of other hot topics that we'll talk about after we go through predictions, I think. But we had a bunch of predictions and I was just gonna start going through these. And I feel like I'm gonna start from the top of the list that I sent out that I gathered from our, our show a year ago. the most important predictions I think had to do with how many preemptions we thought might be rolled back, how many times we would see states that currently limit community networks, getting rid of those restrictions. a lot of us were pretty bullish thinking we would see more of them. Sean wins Sean said one, and there were none. So <laugh> way to go, Sean, you won a terrible prize.
Sean Gonsalves (11:53):
Yeah, exactly. See what pessimism gets you.
Christopher Mitchell (11:56):
<laugh>. but you were also right, and this is where, this is where you totally get the credit. You said you didn't think it was gonna come back in Ohio. And I feel like the great work that folks have done in Ohio Fairlawn's been involved with that Medina County others who have done a lot of work in Ohio to make sure that the big cable companies cannot step on them and and and further restrict them. So Ohio will not be putting any of the federal dollars into community networks, it looks like. And that is annoying, dumb, counterproductive and wasteful. but at least we're not seeing any new restrictions in Ohio. So that's pretty good. any other reflections on the, the preemptions people feel like, I mean, I feel like it wasn't really much of an issue. The state legislatures were kind of creating broadband offices and things like that. There wasn't really a lot of policy that was done this year.
Sean Gonsalves (12:50):
Yeah, there was a little, there's a little movement in Pennsylvania to try to ease some of those restrictions, which you know, most closers ever say just, you know, might actually make things a little bit messier and doesn't go far enough. But you know, I think, you know, ultimately most folks, even in states that have state preemption laws, aren't aware that they even exist. Yeah. So it's kind of hard to rally folks around, you know, rolling that stuff back when they don't even know it's an albatross.
Christopher Mitchell (13:16):
Right. We also see that, you know, far Texas move forward and is doing really great work despite having a significant preemption law. And so I think we're also seeing people finding ways of flowing around it and the noble tradition of the internet of seeing censorship as danger or damage and routing around it. So it's not, it's not all bad out there. for new municipal networks we've certainly seen a number of them grow behind the scenes, a little bit of a, of a secret behind the scenes peak. We have been developing a new database internally to be able to track this stuff better. And we don't have a good count right now on how many new networks there have been, but I think next year at this time we will be better able to track these things. but we've done a lot of work creating a, a nuanced database that will allow us to keep track of these as they develop and and that sort of a thing.
but I believe I said 20 to 50 new municipal networks, and I think that's in the range. certainly not all of them are online, but you know, I mentioned far Texas, there's, there's so much happening in New England. I can't even count how many are in Maine. Vermont has gone so big in this direction. it's tremendous. Tennessee picked up a few new that are citywide efforts. Duluth is building an interesting network here in Minnesota. Superiors moving forward with it. New York State is doing a lot. you know, there's, there's just a lot of things happening in a lot of places. There's other places that we're leaving out that a lot of good things are happening. So I don't know if anyone has any comments on, on that issue. The year in municipal networks,
Ry Marcattilio-McCracken (14:52):
You mentioned Vermont a second ago, you know, 10 Cuds at differing stages there in Vermont, covering, I think it, I think the cuds now cover 95% of all the will cover all 95% of all the underserved addresses there and something like 75% of the population total. So that's
Christopher Mitchell (15:11):
Exactly, yeah, that's, then those are communications union districts and and I presume that's pretty much everywhere outside of the Chittenden County where Burlington is. yeah, there's just, and then several of them are broken ground. others are still getting underway. It's a very volunteer led effort, and I think it's gonna be fascinating to see how that develops with the state support that is being poured in by, by the state of Vermont. Emma, you said the broadband label wasn't gonna be enforced, and I don't know that we can rule on this yet, but I'm curious what your reflections are on the, the broadband labels. You've been, you've been our specialist on that issue.
Emma Gautier (15:46):
A lot of enforcement and like, whether the label is gonna be well enforced and whether it's gonna lead to good data about pricing and service has kind of yet to be seen. There was an order released in November and it didn't have all the teeth, so to speak. We wanted it to have, there's a working group led by Josh Saer on this and was
Christopher Mitchell (16:11):
That Free Press now?
Emma Gautier (16:12):
Free Press, yeah. And so a big thing that he was advocating, they were advocating for over there is requiring that the label be displayed on monthly billing, which would be a great provider accountability mechanism that was not included. They're still working on that. It's not kind of the final order. but that was not included in the, in the order released in November. I did go back to what I said last year, and I said that the label wouldn't be well enforced, but I said that the FCC would kind of roll over to industry pressure, and I actually don't think that's completely true, which is great. There were arguments that it would be too difficult for providers to make the label machine readable. And
Christopher Mitchell (17:04):
It's hilarious <laugh>,
Emma Gautier (17:06):
Which is, which is an absurd question, right? Should the ma should the label be machine readable? Of
Christopher Mitchell (17:10):
Course I'll do it. Just send me your information, I'll do it. I'm not that, I'm not that worried about it, <laugh>,
Emma Gautier (17:15):
It's huge data opportunity, so why would we not require make that requirement? But that was part of it. There was also a language accessibility part of it. Josh pointed out that there was extreme opposition to have the label and all the languages that a provider offered service in, which is kind of absurd also. But that was part of the order and requirements. And then finally, small ISPs are not exempt from disclosing information in the order. So I think that, you know, advocacy efforts were not in vain. They definitely helped. there was some industry pressure I think that obviously came into play, you know, with the deadlock in the fcc, that obviously played a big role probably in not getting the label on the monthly bill. that was probably a factor, but there were some good things that came up with that. Yeah, there's also a lot to be seen on that.
Christopher Mitchell (18:14):
It's not, and that's, that's what I wanted to sort of hit on, is I feel like it's not bad considering it's a two, two fcc. but it is awful that we are halfway through President Biden's term and we have a two two FCC <laugh>. It is ridiculous. We have Gigi so waiting and hopefully will be confirmed before the end of the year if not, we'll hopefully be confirmed very quickly next year. just very disappointing situation with the Senate Democrats and the Biden administration, and frankly also the fcc. Like you know, we haven't seen Jessica Rosen Weel or commissioner Starks chairwoman Rosen Weel or or Commissioner of Starks coming out and saying, we need a full fcc confirm Gigi. You know, they're, I think that they're afraid she's gonna outshine them, and I don't, I don't know, I shouldn't be trying to read mines, but like, it's just been kind of gross. and and you get a sense of how much politics in DC shape how all this stuff works rather than what the market needs or, or anything along those lines. so I mean, I think the fccs had a pretty poor year. I think we'll talk about that throughout, but did get a couple of key things. Right. so
Ry Marcattilio-McCracken (19:29):
Chris you, you've been doing this, you know, a lot longer than even, you know, the the longest tenured one of us here. is this the longest period you've seen this happen where there's a two two fcc?
Christopher Mitchell (19:40):
Yeah, and I, you know, I didn't know a lot about the commission prior to, I don't know, 20 10, 20 12. And I learned, and it took me a while to really get up to speed on norms. But I don't know the last time that I, the commission was down for this long. I mean, you know, generally a party controlled the Senate and did better and there wasn't as as much polarization for voting for qualified people in the Senate. but everything's been weaponized since around that time since I started looking at it really. you know Republicans really particularly led the way with weaponizing every vote in the Senate to try to drag things to a halt. and then it's not that the Democrats didn't fight back or, or retaliate in different ways. but you know, if you look at Nor Morstein and others who are kind of centrist who have tracked this, they would say that the Senate has been ground to a halt by a change in Republican strategies generally. And, and so we didn't see that before that so much. Sean and I thought a third of the states wouldn't be ready to apply for the money. Now I'm curious how anyone reacts to that. Sean, you can go first. Wow.
Sean Gonsalves (20:45):
That was really optimistic because actually only 11 states have applied for the initial, or who have been allocated initial planning funds if folks recall or even don't know. So you get the initial planning funds first, and then after you get the initial planning funds, you have 270 days of getting those, those funds to submit the five year action plan. So there's only 11 states that have even done the first step in the process. So yeah,
Christopher Mitchell (21:09):
Maybe half of the states have the coronavirus capital projects fund money now. I think like that's been, yeah, I
Sean Gonsalves (21:14):
Think it's like 25 ish. Yeah, about 25 states have got the C P F fund. So, so really only, you know, a handful of states are really ready to move forward and, and, and are on pace to get, I guess, bead funding in the, in the summer.
Christopher Mitchell (21:28):
And one of the, one of the things that I think we've heard is, and let's talk about state offices for a second, but I feel like one of the things that we've heard is that state offices are struggling to find people. Duh, everyone knows that when they do find people in a number of state offices, they're struggling to hold onto them because this is hard freaking work, and it's complicated and they're being asked to do a lot. And frankly, I don't think their pay is comme it with what is being asked of them. So I think we're seeing more transition, which I didn't anticipate fully.
Ry Marcattilio-McCracken (21:58):
It'll be interesting to see what happens in the first six months of 2023. we'll get a sense of, you know, how many states we're waiting for the new FCC maps to come out and how many of the states that we're waiting for those maps are going to quickly realize how useless they,
Sean Gonsalves (22:14):
I, I'd be interested to hear from Christine on this, but you know, I, I saw recently that Alan Davidson over the head of the N T I A at the 40th Annual Institute on Telecommunications Policy and Regulation Conference said that, well, he called the new F C C maps, a bit of technical wonder, but then went on to express like some real concern about the short timeframe to file challenges. So, you know, I guess he was trying to thread that needle, which kinda
Christopher Mitchell (22:36):
Me, lemme say Sean, I'm wondering about them. So I guess technically he's correct, <laugh>.
Sean Gonsalves (22:41):
Yeah, right. But I think more to the point though you know, the, the, despite his, you know, being amazed at the first draft of these maps, he is really concerned about filing challenges by such a short deadline. I mean, we're talking about 35 working days with three national holidays in between to file challenges. And, and which kind of brings us to, you know, what DeAnn was sharing with us the other day about the Texas comptroller's letter basically asking the, for the the filing challenge deadline to be extended.
Christopher Mitchell (23:11):
Right. But before we go to dn, Christine's gonna jump in,
Christine Parker (23:14):
Rewind a little bit to like the states, the number of states that are not prepared for bead funding. And I'm just like looking at my, the map of maps the, I put out earlier this year, and about nine so far are not sharing like, public maps of broadband availability. It's not to say they don't have something going behind the scenes, but it's, it's not made public yet.
Christopher Mitchell (23:39):
if 40 states then do have some kind of public map,
Christine Parker (23:41):
They do but many of them are sharing just four, seven data. So their, their maps are not nearly detailed enough to be, I think, really useful for these bead applications.
Christopher Mitchell (23:54):
And Deanne, what are your thoughts on relating to all the bead and the state offices readiness and whatnot?
DeAnne Cuellar (24:01):
I feel like I, as someone who's been doing this work for a really long time, like you and some am somewhat responsible for how we are struggling to recruit and keep these folks who want like to work on this issue. I, I have been a person who has said has been a naysayer, like, oh, they don't understand the technology. I don't know if they can do that role. And as someone who's been focusing on for the last year trying to do public awareness around this issue, I was wrong. That is not true. And we should not be disenfranchising digital inclusion advocates from nonprofit people to folks that wanna work in broadband offices, this work like all work. It, it just takes commitment to the, the single issue and working across sectorally and I, and that is something that can be acquired with dedication to a role. So I think we as digital inclusion advocates can contribute to recruiting people that don't have tech experience. I don't think tech experience is necessary.
Christopher Mitchell (25:00):
No. But I think an enthusiasm to, to get that tech experience is necessary. sure.
Christine Parker (25:06):
Christopher Mitchell (25:08):
And I also wanna say that I thought that you were saying there that you have as much experience as I do, only you are somewhat responsible, which is also true <laugh>. So Christine, you had suggested, and I think rye edged in on this one too, all good mapping will be at the state level. And yeah, I I think you nailed it.
Christine Parker (25:28):
Yeah, I think that's the way it's gonna gonna go. in some states seem to be doing a really good job of, of bolstering their, their own maps and preparing for the youth bead applications and, and filing challenges against the FCC maps. So I think those states are gonna come out ahead next year.
Christopher Mitchell (25:47):
Well, the FCC maps tell me that I can get a gigabit fixed wireless at my house. I went to the website and it said I could pay hundreds of dollars a month for two or three megabits of wireless at my house and I could get a more customized quote. So I did start that process and I have not yet heard but I'm, I'm, I'm curious and I'm curious how many cycles we'll still see these false claims in these maps because the FCC refuses to penalize companies that engage in egregious mis misidentification of where they can offer services. Ry
Ry Marcattilio-McCracken (26:22):
Chris, you don't think it's, cuz all the trees you have around your house, they just, if you just clear, clear 'em a little path, then they could, they could do that.
Christopher Mitchell (26:27):
Well, I, I do actually have some wonderful ash trees, which if anyone who knows St. Paul knows that that's actually a blessing and a curse with the ash bore moving north so rapidly. but you know, I have good relations with a neighbor and they have good line of sight and I think we could work something out with them if if that was truly an issue. but I, I don't think we're anywhere close to being able to provide, I mean, hell, if they could provide me a few hundred megabits of upload, I'd take it, you know, if they were like, no, we could do 200 megabits symmetrical, boom, I'm there. Like, I'm already paying a hundred bucks a month in getting, you know, Comcast data cap and like and having other issues with my 40 megabits of upstream, which is the best I can do at this house currently. So you know, I don't need a gig wireless, but I'll take something. But, you know, three megabits isn't gonna cut it. <laugh> <laugh> not for $185 a month or something like that. Come on.
Ry Marcattilio-McCracken (27:22):
Yeah. Yep. It, yeah. So I think all the good mapping is happening at the state level. I, I said that last year knowing that I wouldn't have to do any of the heavy lifting because Christine would be around to confirm or deny it for me. So that's fits pretty well with how I like to operate. just a plug for our United States of broadband map, our map of maps that is continuously being updated by Christine. it gives you a sense of which states are further ahead and what they're doing and what their maps currently look like. And we are in the process of adding a new layer a new row to those maps, which shows which states have filed bulk challenges already. So that should be coming down the pipeline pretty soon
Sean Gonsalves (28:01):
Here, the more that I think about it. And we, and probably for different reasons, but I actually think I agree with the Texas comptroller, that there should be an extension
Christopher Mitchell (28:07):
Of that. Oh
Sean Gonsalves (28:08):
Yeah. Like we can walk in chew gum at the same time. It's like every state's gonna get a hundred million, like roll that money out ASAP and then get the maps good. And then the rest of the money you can kind of figure out later or, or, or allocate it on a rolling basis like they're doing with the C P F funds.
DeAnne Cuellar (28:20):
Yeah. But you understand why folks are, would challenge extensions, right? This just because,
Christopher Mitchell (28:28):
Because N T I A is screwing it up, I'm wondering why N T I A can't get its act together and figure out that they could get some money out before they use the final determinations. So I'm so Dean, I agree with you. Like, I mean, I think we don't want the, the incumbents want to slow roll this and we don't want to slow roll the money to the states, but I don't wanna rush through a failed process. So I
DeAnne Cuellar (28:48):
Wasn't even thinking about it like that. I, I think that that's another good point. I, as someone who's always trying to like, get people to like, do things together, you know, setting, setting timelines is, is part of that agreement as collective. And so we are one country, we're not 50 countries, you know, we're, we're a single country. And so as a, as a collective as a country, we're trying to get on the road to recovery. And this is a recovery effort. And so I understand the nobility behind the extension because it's one way of saying like, we're doing it, we're trying to do it, we're big state, all the reasons. But you have to understand for like the rest of the country, it's like there are states that are ready to go or then they're, that means those communities are ready to go. They're ready to get on the road to recovery. So I, I think that like, I'm not gonna like dig anything on my state cuz I, I live here, but I just think like, this is where, this is where we could do better in coordinated efforts.
Christopher Mitchell (29:42):
I might have ranted once or potentially two times about how the fccs had more than a decade knowing that we were gonna get to this moment and refuse to be ready for it. They've totally failed. N T I A does not have to have perfect maps before they start rolling out money. They, they can, they know that they know roughly where the money's gonna go. They don't know the final amounts and they can start rolling it out. Is their political decision to slow roll this and then to make the final de decision without having very accurate data. And I just think this is very bad politics. It's very bad for the, the states. It's bad for people who need internet access. There's nothing you can really say that like that's positive in terms of these decisions, except that they're sort of like, we made a decision, we're sticking by it. And sort of stuff
Christine Parker (30:25):
I've heard from folks that have had early looks at the, the newest data and like a comparison of that to the old dataset. The number of unserved is in some cases double that what it was in the previous dataset. So there's like you're saying, there's no reason for them to like wait to like have perfect maps because we know the numbers, like we know roughly what the numbers should be or are. And there's, there's no reason to like not roll out some money already, especially to this like, like Deanna saying, it's unfair to make the states that are prepared. Wait, some states have been paying attention and are ready to go.
Christopher Mitchell (31:06):
Yeah. N T I A is making this blunder over and over again, right? I mean, we talked about this with regard to tribes where the Hoopa Valley folks are doing three different projects. One involves a tower, one involves a data center, one involves building a fiber network throughout their territory. They can't do a spend a dime moving forward with those projects until they finish the permitting for all of them. And that's dumb. And that will make it harder for them to engage in the workforce development that we want them to do. It's counterproductive on every single goal that N T I A has. And it's just yet another rule that doesn't make sense except that N T I A is deathly afraid of the whole, the problem with cylindra, right? Which is that they just don't want to have a problem where, and this probably won't happen in Hoopa Valley, but it will happen somewhere where someone starts building a project and then they hit a permitting issue that they cannot resolve.
And then some of that money might be wasted or might be used inefficiently. But you know what, that's part of the deal. Like none of this stuff is perfect. If it was perfect, we wouldn't need government to step in and sort it out. So like, I just, I'm tired of these people who are acting on the public interest who refuse to make these hard decisions and then say, you know what? We're not gonna get 'em all right. But it's more important that we move forward and we allow these projects to create all these other benefits than that we try to resolve every potential problem that could resolve before we move forward. Emma?
Emma Gautier (32:28):
Yeah, just really quick. I think like momentum is very key in getting money flowing is really important to that. I mean, I was just talking to someone at the bootcamps last week, like in terms of tribal, like people are working really hard in their communities to be like champions and advocates for these projects and get people excited and keep people excited about them. And when there's so many delays, it's really hard. It's a lot of work for maybe even like one champion in the community who's like really trying to maintain momentum and energy around this.
Christopher Mitchell (33:03):
Yeah, there was money that where every tribe is supposed to get a certain amount and even that money hasn't been distributed, we're past the statutory deadlines. And so N T I A is basically like, well, we gotta be really careful. It's like, well, you're ignoring the other part of the law that said you had to get the money out there. What, you know, this is your decision N T I A and and you're harming people in on reservations who need this. They need to get going. they need to get it active. And not only that, I mean it ends up costing more money then because they have to figure out how to pay the salaries of people who are doing this work while they're waiting for the money that is supposed to be paying those salaries. It's a mess and, and it's a self-inflicted mess, which is frustrating. Moving on to supply chain, I thought we would be mostly resolving supply chain stuff and Sean said the fiber order backlogs will skyrocket. I think we're kind of in between there. I feel like it's not as bad as it have been. I don't think I've seen evidence of skyrocketing, although if you're a really small company trying, if you're a wisp trying to get, you know, like 15, 20 miles of fiber, good luck to you. I suppose. I think that's probably is happening.
Sean Gonsalves (34:07):
I did see a report from that Sienna has a 4 billion order backlog as of September, 2022. so
Christopher Mitchell (34:14):
Yeah, and I think for people who wanna talk more about this, we talked about it on the episode of connect this, that came out episode 60 on December 15th. Ray you talked about chip shortages and thought that would mostly be resolving my read is that that's more or less correct. It's not perfect, but things are headed in the right direction.
Ry Marcattilio-McCracken (34:32):
Yeah, I think so. I think people figured it out. They, whether they took, you know, lower bin chips or figured it out some other way I don't think the chip shortage is, is really a thing anymore. Unless you're trying to buy a a a video card, you can't get a 40 80 for, for anything these days, even though they're going for 1600 bucks. So if you're building a, a new computer, it's a, it's a tough time.
Christopher Mitchell (34:53):
Sean said that starlink will be underwhelming and I feel like Sean is correct, but I will you put in my normal proviso, which is starlink is still amazing compared to the alternatives in many of these areas.
Sean Gonsalves (35:06):
Good point. I'll just mention that. I, I I I've learned that starlink is losing something like on the order of 20 million bucks a month in 2020 when they rolled out the beta, remember they were talking about this one, they had like 800 orbit satellites in orbit. They were, you could get as much as like 50 megabits per second up to 150 megabits per second download. there's four times as many satellites out there now, and the average, according to speed test data, most users are lucky to get 50 megabits download. And the nu and, and that's dropping. It's the, it's it's dropped 17% in the United States and 14% in Canada. So you're right, it's 50 megabits is better than what folks in remote locations were, were getting before starlink, but eh,
Christopher Mitchell (35:48):
Yeah, no, and they've instituted the, the bandwidth limits, although it is a very good bandwidth limit in that it is focused on peak time bandwidth, which is the only economically sound way if you're going to be fair to do it. you know, I have a Comcast data limit because I don't have much competition in this area. And it's ridiculous cuz if I upload a terabyte of information between three and 5:00 AM over the course of two weeks I am not costing Comcast a penny. It's, there's no issue there. And the idea that that counts against my limit is, is dumb. And and just a, a straight up cash grab. Go ahead Ryan.
Ry Marcattilio-McCracken (36:24):
It's absolutely ridiculous. It's burns me up so bad particularly cuz I know that the charter bandwidth caps are coming here. It's 2024, right? So it's a dark future head for my household too,
Christopher Mitchell (36:35):
Right? Charter does not have bandwidth caps due to a merger agreement that they had signed previously. I had made a prediction that three big cities would be doing modest projects that would be really cool. And I am that's not counting New York City or Baltimore. you know, Detroit's doing some cool stuff. Los Angeles has multiple cities doing schools of Los Angeles County itself is doing cool stuff. I feel like I'm in the, the gray area there, but it's pretty close. I was hoping there would be more still hoping that there will be more. I said there would be a full on anti municipal broadband blitz in 2022. Eh, I mean, I would say that this charter funded campaign, the A B Q Alliance for Quality broadband or a Q B is it's all right. I mean, in terms of like, it's not a blitz. It's, it's a little bit, it's a little bit unimpressive, but it is a hassle and fooling people around the country. So I think we're gonna still see that amped up in the future, but I don't know that I can take that as a win, Sean.
Sean Gonsalves (37:36):
Yeah. Although it, it likely probably influenced a few proposals in Maine.
Christopher Mitchell (37:41):
Yeah, it definitely did. I'm sure like there's, there's multiple places where it's had an inf had an effect. but I thought there would be, you know, more of a coordinated effort by the, the big companies. I think there's still watching and trying to figure out when to pull out the big guns. DeAnn said there'd be so much more high profile media attention on this stuff in 2022. How, how do you rate that? I, I don't know. there was some really good articles
DeAnne Cuellar (38:05):
We could do a search, but I I I I think there has been quite a bit of a high profile when I say Hope high profile, I mean that like outside of like those of us who like purposely look to read these stories I, I think there was a lot of good attention and earned media on price, you know, the, the prices that communities are paying the, the markup most notably
Yeah, the markup. And, and there's a
Christopher Mitchell (38:31):
Large lot of times
DeAnne Cuellar (38:32):
Yeah. And a larger conversation about consumer protections. and I think that there was better visibility on how being poor is expensive. That phrase that I keep re repeating, you know, it's just like, that's, that's something that is easy to understand, easy as you can, right? I shouldn't say anything as easy, but the truth is, is like, it is very expensive to be low income or poor in the United States. And and this problem with the internet is, is contributing to it. At the same time, while we, as advocates are saying it is a solution for so many ails in our community, we're saying, here's a solution, workforce development, telemedicine work from home. We're saying this, the utility has all these solutions and then we're making it very expensive and very difficult for communities to have it. And that's a difficult thing to watch as an advocate.
Christopher Mitchell (39:18):
Yes. Yeah. I, I'll just say I feel like we've seen some national media from the newspapers and things like that done a decent job. Television media is atrocious and radio has not been nearly as good as it should be for something that everyone thinks is the most important thing. in terms of you know, internet access being so important.
DeAnne Cuellar (39:37):
Everybody's doing a ap ACP enrollment right now, and now we're gonna gear up and we're gonna do like one more big hercule push for it. And what the thing is interesting for me is that like we're, we haven't come that far from over 10 years ago about how to reach people. And so I'm on these calls to, well, I mean meetings, trying to explain to people like that we'll be using radio and we'll be using over the air broadcast and like basically the old school community organizing and reach people. And, and they're, they're just like, are you sure? And I'm like, yes, because those are the people that are still not connected, and that is their, that is how they are receiving information, not just in urban communities, but also rural communities.
Sean Gonsalves (40:11):
And, and let's not forget to further buttress DN being in the, in, in the, in the wind column on this prediction. The Washington Post did publish a gigantic story that Tony Rom wrote about a c p which got a lot of attention. And then we always have to, we, we, we gotta shout out Nate Benson he's not a national television reporter, but he's probably the only television reporter that, that understands the stuff and covers it well up in the, the Buffalo area of New York.
Christopher Mitchell (40:38):
Yeah. If we had 10 Nate Bensons, I'd stop ragging on TV news so much. Just the local TV news, the national TV news. I'm I'm constantly talking about how it's atrocious and then he, he'll get up in my face to be like, Hey, man, heard my feelings. And he does great work. I wish we had more of him more like him. we have Ry said lots more at the Washington Public Utility districts. I don't know how to evaluate that. I think there's stuff going on, but I, it hasn't popped up on my radar as much and hadn't had a chance to look into it yet to get a sense of where that ended up this year.
Ry Marcattilio-McCracken (41:10):
Yeah, it was a little bit of a strange year in that we were kind of some, lots of us were working on kind of long-term projects that our nearing completion so we can kind of return to this boots on the ground stuff, which will be an exciting thing for 2023. But I think we saw even without knowing the whole picture, a lot of good stuff happening at the Ports and PUDs in Washington, in Washington state Jefferson County, p u d is taking 20 million in grant money to do a bunch of work. 14 counties got 145 million from the state to do projects. Lots of those were partnerships, but lots of it will also be publicly owned infrastructure as well. And so I think, I think they continue to be the kind of under the radar burn over there.
Sean Gonsalves (41:55):
And let's not forget, actually, Chris, you, you, you, you flagged, flagged me on this the other day because of the PUDs and the infrastructure that they've built, Zipline was able to acquire what is it, ifi? Yep. And, and expand the footprint. So more folks are gonna have access to, to broadband because of the infrastructure that the PUDs have laid out.
Christopher Mitchell (42:14):
Well, no, I think, I mean, to be clear, so this, this company zli, which is a, a big company that's made up of mostly of Frontiers former assets out there you know, they bought a company that operates on a bunch of those public utility districts and was one of the a more popular one. I don't know that that immediately results in anyone having more access. but it will, well,
Sean Gonsalves (42:36):
According to their press releases it does, it's like gonna be able to like extend the reach of i, you know, IFI and help them build out to more folks.
Christopher Mitchell (42:44):
Yeah, I mean, I, I'm not really sure what the plan is with ifi cuz IFI wasn't an infrastructure company. ifi pretty much operate on infrastructure of the public utility districts and maybe they have a, a new plan now. I'm, I'm not sure but I think average of
Sean Gonsalves (42:58):
Christopher Mitchell (43:00):
<laugh> could be, I mean, Zipline, I think they're, they're building real infrastructure. I still, I never really understood their model of why they think you know, in terms of big privately owned private entity companies why they're doing what they are. Like, I don't really understand what their model is. But you know, spark Light, which is a truly horrendous cable company I think took a significant, made an investment in Simpy. Is that right, Ry? I think and it, it kind of, it was interesting to me that when you have a cable company that can barely <laugh>, you know, keep its network operating when it's taking its own capital and putting that into another company and another part of the country, that's a, that's a remarkable statement there of like where you think you can make more money, <laugh>
Ry Marcattilio-McCracken (43:42):
50 million not a drop in the bucket either. It's a strange you know, maybe it's tied up with all the private equity moves that we've been seeing that you'd think that money would be better served keeping the lights on for for their, their subscribers.
Christopher Mitchell (43:55):
Yeah, I'm their Wall Street analyst, but I gotta feel like that to me, that looks like, boy, our management sucks. We're just gonna invest in this other company that knows how to manage a little bit better <laugh>, maybe one that knows how to send an email to the people it's intended to rather than to people who are opposing you. When you're gonna candidly say that we need to stop municipal broadband networks because it's the greatest threat that our company faces. <laugh> our technical story. Wonderful job. After an email got leaked to us Sean, you said there was gonna be a more of an effort to fi cut the a c p and a return of the neutrality fight. And and I think I was
Sean Gonsalves (44:33):
Christopher Mitchell (44:34):
<laugh>. I think, yeah, I think you've got a little bit screwed there by Gigi, so not being confirmed. So then the FCC hasn't done anything on net neutrality,
Sean Gonsalves (44:42):
And frankly, we're the only ones really thinking about when the ACP will run outta money,
Christopher Mitchell (44:46):
A National Digital Inclusion Alliance. Angela Siford just testified in that senate committee and she made a strong point that they need to fill that back up. So, yeah, I mean there's definitely a few others, but and no Comcast and at and t will be on our side for that one and pushing for more money to you know, to just make sure that that, that that waterfall of, of taxpayer dollars continues into their shareholder's hands. So Sean, you also had my favorite prediction, which is the last one we have here. 5G still won't be a thing in 2022, and 5G still is not a thing. <laugh>.
Sean Gonsalves (45:22):
That's right, that's right. Al I'm gonna quote Doug Dawson. He said the marketers have convinced everybody that the new bands of Spectrum being used for 4G are actually 5g, and it's a pretty slick marketing trick to, to, so that the seller carriers don't have to explain why 5G isn't really here yet.
Christopher Mitchell (45:39):
Sean Gonsalves (45:40):
I think we just, I think we should just call it Sean G and let, and, and we'll be done with it.
Christopher Mitchell (45:45):
<laugh>, <laugh>. So let's wrap up with any, any last comments as we reflect on the year. any topics we wanna, we wanna revisit.
Ry Marcattilio-McCracken (45:54):
I'll bring up one, which is Ardo the Real Digital Opportunity Fund. I think it's something that's kind of flown under the radar this year. we're still doing some final ting, but with the kind of high profile involuntary defaults by starlink and L T D and the voluntary default of Starry. and Christine can jump in here and correct me if I'm wrong, but I think we're almost 90% of those round one funds being, having been dispersed at this point. And so, you know, a lot of that, a lot of that money went to the, the big monopoly providers, but more than a billion dollars went to cooperatives and Cooperative Consortium around the country. So I expect to see, you know, in, in 2023 some real progress being made there. I think that's a, a success story that needs to be told for 2023.
Christopher Mitchell (46:39):
Yeah, they are, they are building and even charters building in some cases Windstream I think, you know, so I'm worried that, that they won't be building as fast as we'd like to in other areas. They have a long time before they have to spend those funds. But the, the Star's default is fascinating. I, I don't think a lot of people saw Starry crashing and burning the way it did. starry was the crown jewel of, of many in the, in the wisp movement, I feel like which is a complicated thing to say because a lot of wisps are small local companies, and Starry was a giant company that was moving big and trying to, you know, but, but it crashed and burned. And and I'm frankly glad that we see less money going to so-called Gigabit wireless, which has not yet been demonstrated anywhere except for like on custom made boards that aren't publicly available.
you know, it certainly is not gonna work in terms of most of the terrain of these rural areas. So you know, I'm, I'm sorry to see STARI going, but I feel like that was a major story of this year. And between that and the, the 5G millimeter waves stuff, like, I feel like there's still a lot of people who keep talking about how like super fast wireless is coming and, and certainly there's areas where it pops up, but there's a heck of a lot of people who aren't experiencing that. They, you know, they're they don't have the right line of sight, the right spectrum isn't available or whatever. And so you know, I continue to think that it would be foolish not to spend most of these broadband monies that are available on fiber. I think we gotta spend it on something that's gonna be around for a long, long time and has a more secure business model.
Christine Parker (48:19):
Something I shared with all of you and just kind of timely with the end of the year, the FCC has announced the sun setting of the E 4 77 data set. So dawn of a new data set,
Christopher Mitchell (48:30):
Right, and not, but not all of 4 77,
Christine Parker (48:33):
Right? ISPs will still be submitting subscriber data that they previously did with the 4 77 form. but the availability data set they will not be submitting anymore. So that'll just be through the broadband data collection. Now, just reflecting on all the workflow I spent this year learning how to use, and now I get to do it all again, looking forward to it.
Christopher Mitchell (48:56):
<laugh>, Christine, I have to say that if a year ago you told me that I would be more pessimistic about the FCC and the, and the broadband data, I would be really wondering how that was possible. But the fcc is just such a mess on this. I mean, we're still talking about we're still talking about advertised data where, where there's no actual sense of that reality matters. There's no pricing data. I, I don't, it is not serious. The FCC is not serious about solving broadband problems or collecting real data.
Christine Parker (49:28):
Yeah, there's a lot of questions still to remain unanswered about this data set. And yeah, people are really frustrated even more so than with the last one. I think
Ry Marcattilio-McCracken (49:38):
<laugh>, I mean, I'll say, I'll say Chris, I feel more optimistic this year. I think one of the silver linings to the disaster of the maps is we have people now, we've got people like Christine, we've got the National Broadband Mapping Coalition. We've got Dustin, we've got folks at universities all around the country who have stepped up. And I think a lot of people don't know the kind of Herculean efforts and the the frankly impressive work that they've done to work around some of the dataset size problems and other things. I think even in dark times like this it's helpful to note the people that, that it forces people to step up and develop new expertise and step into the light a little bit. And I think we're we're developing skillsets and, and technical expertise that we didn't have a year ago.
Christopher Mitchell (50:27):
Yes, I, and that's it's a very good note to, to, I think end on, I do believe that I, I still hope the FCC will be shamed into getting it right some year, because I go back to like the National Weather Service Noah, these thing, these government agencies that are so important to make sure that we have accurate information about weather systems and other things, because so many other businesses depend on them. And the idea that if you're gonna move into a new area, or you are gonna be putting a business into an area, not having certainty about what kind of internet access is there and the year 2023, and you're gonna rely on a hodgepodge of, of academics and non-profit people that are doing the right thing for their own reasons to try to like, figure out that it's, it's a little bit not serious to, I mean, I, I keep saying that, you know, like they're just, the fccs not serious and we should have a serious regulator.
So with that, it has been a heck of a year. I'm, I feel so privileged to have spent it with y'all. I'm so happy for the people that continue to find our analysis useful and, and help us with it, and inspire us with the work that they're doing locally. And I hope that everyone has a, a great end of the year. I hope that we'll have some really terrific optimistic predictions for next year as we go in and been a heck of a year. So thank you everyone. Cheers.
Ry Marcattilio-McCracken (51:48):
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