Countdown To Last Building for Digital Equity Event Of The Year

Digital Equity Unwrapped: End of Year Reflections/The New Year Ahead is just a week away, as seats are filling up fast for next Tuesday’s Building for Digital Equity (#B4DE) event. The popular (and free) virtual gathering – slated for December 12, 2023 from 3 to 4:15 pm ET – will highlight important milestones in broadband over the past year and take a look ahead for what promises to be another busy year for digital inclusion practitioners across the country.

Blue River Latest Colorado Town To Eye Community Broadband

Blue River, Colorado is the latest Colorado municipality to explore building its own broadband network with an eye on affordable access. The town is part of a trend that’s only accelerated since the state eliminated industry-backed state level protections restricting community-owned broadband networks. Town leaders recently hired the consulting firm, NEO Connect, to explore the possibility of building a town-wide fiber network.

In Our View: Addressing Digital Discrimination Will Take More Than Policing ISPs

This is a walk and chew gum moment for broadband-for-all advocates. The FCC's new digital discrimination rules have the potential to reign in egregious examples of digital discrimination, and the new rules still fall short of putting forward the kinds of structural solutions necessary to address underinvestment in communities where federal infrastructure dollars may never reach.

Old Data Woes Could Hinder Round Two of Tribal Broadband Connectivity Program

The Tribal Broadband Connectivity Program (TBCP) is in the midst of accepting applications for a second round of funding, with nearly $1 billion in grants available. A significant program with important limitations, TBCP has made some changes in round two – including one that could mean the resurgence of old barriers for Tribes. Among other changes, round two introduces new requirements for determining whether a location is eligible for funding, a shift that will likely have significant implications for Tribes.

After Years of Declining Service, Pikeville, Kentucky Strikes a Deal for a New Partnership

Pikeville, Kentucky officials, after almost a decade of fighting with Internet Service Provider (ISP) Optimum about service so consistently poor that the city finally sued the provider, are working on an alternative: a partnership that will see the local government build new citywide fiber infrastructure and lease it to an operating partner. The city formalized a public-private partnership with Inter Mountain Cable, a private local company, which will build the network and get exclusive rights to operate it for 15 years, with the city retaining ownership.

Loveland, Colorado’s Municipal Fiber Network Crosses Finish Line

Last week, Pulse Fiber officials announced that construction of its community-owned broadband network is now complete with every household and business in this city of 77,000 now having access to affordable gig-speed service. The $110 million construction project, which began in earnest only four years ago, is the largest capital project in the city’s history, reaching the finish line on time and on budget, city officials said.

California’s Broadband Plan Has Huge Potential, But Red Flags Abound

California has an ambitious $6 billion proposal to shore up affordable broadband access throughout the state, which includes a $3.25 billion plan to build an open-access statewide broadband middle-mile network backers say could transform competition in the Golden State. But while the proposal has incredible potential, digital equity advocates remain concerned that the historic opportunity could be squandered.

Vermont CUD CVFiber Connects First Fiber Customers

CVFiber continues to make progress in deploying affordable fiber to long-neglected rural areas in Vermont. In late 2022 CVFiber broke ground on an ambitious plan to build a 1,200-mile fiber-optic network to bring affordable gigabit broadband access to 6,000 rural Vermont addresses with its first customers having been connected in the central Vermont town of Calais.

Save the Date: Building for Digital Equity #B4DE Holiday Edition

With the holiday season upon us, the Institute for Local Self Reliance (ILSR) Community Broadband Networks Initiative and the National Digital Inclusion Alliance (NDIA) are gearing up for the final Building for Digital Equity (#B4DE) event of the year and encouraging digital equity practitioners to save the date.

Verizon Pole Attachment Issues Delay West Springfield, MA Fiber Plan

In 2021 West Springfield, Massachusetts announced it would be partnering with Westfield Gas and Electric, a publicly owned utility, to deliver its residents symmetrical gigabit fiber service. But efforts to launch the project have been on hold thanks to ongoing delays by Verizon and Eversource to prepare local utility poles for fiber attachment.

NTIA Letter of Credit Waiver Victory for Community Broadband

The National Telecommunications and Information Administration (NTIA) recently announced it has created a “programmatic waiver” that offers alternatives to the much-criticized letter-of-credit (LOC) requirement buried in the BEAD program. The waiver is good news for independent ISPs and also local and state governments looking to invest in municipal broadband projects or public-private partnerships.

Hoopa Valley Tribe and State of California Embark on Historic Collaboration

A new chapter in state-Tribal relations is being written as the importance of robust and reliable telecommunication becomes all-too-apparent, especially in the face of more frequent extreme weather events. For the first time, a Tribe in California is building high-speed Internet infrastructure in collaboration with the state, thanks to the resilience of the Hoopa Valley people. With NTIA grant funding now secure, Hoopa Valley is on the cusp of building out a fiber network and more reliable wireless infrastructure to provide high-speed Internet access to over 1,000 on-reservation homes currently without service.

IN OUR VIEW: Save ACP And Then Some

With the $14.2 billion Affordable Connectivity Program (ACP) on track to run out of funds by spring/early summer 2024, finally there is a request from the White House to extend funding for the program that over 21 million households now rely on to help pay for high-speed Internet service. While digital equity advocates rightly celebrate the White House request for additional funding as a national effort is underway to boost ACP enrollment, leading digital inclusion organizations – such as the National Digital Inclusion Alliance (NDIA) – have also been advocating for a more permanent funding solution, possibly through reform of the Universal Services Fund.

Butler Electric Cooperative Bringing Fixed Wireless And Fiber To Rural Kansas

Butler Electric Cooperative and its Velocity broadband subsidiary say they’re making meaningful progress in bringing fixed wireless access (FWA) — and ultimately fiber optic broadband — to long-neglected sections of rural south-central Kansas. It’s the latest example of electrical cooperatives playing a leading role in the longstanding quest to bridge the digital divide.

Memphis Launches $700 Million Plan To Expand Fiber Access

Memphis Mayor Jim Strickland has introduced an ambitious new plan to incentivize private telecom providers to deliver affordable fiber to 85 percent of the Tennessee city of 633,000. The project, part of the city’s Memphis 3.0 master plan, will spend more than $700 million to expand broadband in a city where less than a quarter of residents–most of them wealthy–have access to next-generation fiber.

Scranton, PA Issues RFQ For Citywide Gigabit Fiber Network

The city of Scranton, Pennsylvania has issued a request for qualifications (RFQ) for vendors that may be tasked with constructing an affordable citywide fiber network. City leaders say the RFQ is the opening chapter in a bid to bring affordable broadband access to city residents long neglected by dominant regional monopolies.

New Webinar Series: Tribal Business of Broadband Set to Launch

A new webinar series, The Business of Broadband, is set to kick off later this month. The webinars will hone in on how Indigenous networks approach the business of broadband, how they can be structured, how they price their services, and how they can strategically plan for their sustainability.