christopher mitchell

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Oct. 24th Digital Dialogue on Community Networks

On October 24th, tune to the Media Action Grassroots Network for a discussion on community networks and their contribution to the areas that create them. MAG-Net will be hosting a Digital Dialogue at 10 a.m. PST / 1 p.m. EST. The presentation is titled Community Broadband as a Path to Thriving Local Economies and Neighborhood Development.

From the announcement:

In the last several years local communities, governments, non-profit organizations and neighborhood residents from across the U.S. have successfully launched community broadband initiatives.  54 U.S. cities own citywide fiber networks and another 79 own citywide cable networks.  These local initiatives, in rural and urban areas alike, have served as community scale infrastructures that have helped revitalize local economies. They are sustainable and allow participation and decision-making on the most local level.

For community media advocates it's not just about having access to broadband services, it's also about owning the infrastructure and gaining access, rights and power to media that provide marginalized community members with needed broadband access. Recently, city and state legislation have surfaced that would prevent community owned broadband networks, panelists will touch on the motives behind these bills and ways to fight them. This digital dialogue will feature advocates, experts and organizers who have been working on building community broadband networks, they will reflect on lessons learned, best practices, case studies and challenges.

The list of speakers includes:

To sign up for the hour-long event, register here.

If you would like more info, contact Betty Yu: betty@centerformediajustice.org

 

National Association of Counties Covers South Carolina Laws to Restrict Community Broadband

The National Association of Counties (NACo) gave us permission to reprint an article they recently wrote in their County News publication. NACo advocates for county governments on federal policy that impacts local decsion and local control. NACo is based in Washington, D.C.

In the article, author Charles Taylor discusses the perils of Oconee and Orangeburg Counties in South Carolina, both involved in broadband projects supported by stimulus funds. Because of a new law passed this past summer, those projects are in danger and the possibility of future projects is all but extinguished.

Rural counties' broadband projects face uncertainty

The success of two South Carolina counties’ plans to provide broadband access to rural areas could be in jeopardy because of a new state law that severely restricts public broadband projects. It also essentially bans new ones.

Oconee and Orangeburg counties received more than $27 million in federal stimulus funds in 2010 for rural broadband projects.

A South Carolina law, enacted in July, requires local governments that offer broadband Internet services to charge rates similar to those of private companies, even if the government could provide the service at a lower cost and the area is not served by commercial providers.

“It effectively prohibits municipalities from operating their own broadband systems through a series of regulatory and reporting requirements,” said Catharine Rice, president of the SouthEast Association of Telecommunications Officers and Advisors (SEATOA). “These practically guarantee municipalities could never find financing because the requirements would render even a private sector broadband company inoperable.”

"How a Municipal Network Can Help Your City" Archive Now Available

Last week, Christopher Mitchell of ILSR joined other broadband and municipal network experts to present the webinar "How a Municipal Network Can Help Your City" from the National League of Cities.

Christopher was joined by Kyle Hollified, VP Sales/Marketing, Bristol Virginia Utilities, Bristol; Mary Beth Henry, Manager, Office for Community Technology/Mt Hood Cable Regulatory Commission in Portland, Oregon; and Colman Keane, Director of Fiber Technology, EPB, in Chattanooga, Tennessee.

The group discussed common challenges and benefits communities experience when investing in municipal networks.

If you were not able to attend the September 13 webinar, you can now listen to the archived, hour-long presentation at the National League of Cities website.

Slate Commentary: Want to Pay Less and Get More?

Today, Slate published an opinion piece by me and Sascha Meinrath from the Open Technology Institute at New America Foundation talking about the important role of community broadband in solving the nation's broadband problem. A snippet:
In the meantime, local communities are taking matters into their own hands and have created remarkable citywide fiber-to-the-home broadband networks. Many offer services directly to residents, providing a much-needed alternative to the cable and telephone companies. And by creating meaningful consumer choice among competitors, these networks are driving lower prices—spurring new investment and creating new jobs—and keeping more money circulating in the local economy.

Seattle's KUOW Discusses Wi-Fi and Fiber Optics with Christopher Mitchell

Christopher Mitchell recently spoke with Marcie Sillman on Seattle public radio KUOW's Weekday. Christopher and Marcie talked on May 8, 2012 about recent developments in local and national broadband, including the April 29th end to Seattle's free Wi-Fi network. Christopher and Marcie also discussed challenges and strategies involved in building a community network.

The interview is just about 13 minutes.

Exciting Upcoming Broadband Conferences in DC

Our own Christopher Mitchell will be speaking at two upcoming events on broadband and the future of the Internet.

First, Christopher will be at F2C: Freedom to Connect in Washington, D.C., on May 21-22nd. Christopher will be speaking on May 22nd on the "Fight for Community Broadband" Panel along with other notables from the Free Press, Harvard University, the Center for Media & Democracy, and the SouthEast Association of Telecommunications Officers and Advisors (SEATOA). The presentations will be at the AFI Silver Theatre and you can register here. If you can't attend in person, you can sign up for a webcast. From the F2C website:

F2C: Freedom to Connect is a conference devoted to preserving and celebrating the essential properties of the Internet. The Internet is a success today because it is stupid, abundant and simple. In other words, its neutrality, its openness to rapidly developing technologies and its layered architecture are the reasons it has succeeded where others (e.g., ISDN, Interactive TV) failed.

The Internet’s issues are under-represented in Washington DC policy circles. F2C: Freedom to Connect is designed to advocate for innovation, for creativity, for expression, for little-d democracy. The Freedom to Connect is about an Internet that supports human freedoms and personal security. These values, held by many of us whose consciousness has been shaped by the Internet, are not common on K Street or Capitol Hill or at the FCC.

Government Technology's Top 25 Doers, Dreamers, and Drivers

We are honored to be named by Government Technology to be among the Top 25 Doers, Dreamers, and Drivers in the nation. We are passionate about the role local governments can play in expanding affordable, reliable, and high capacity connections to the Internet. Perhaps that is too clinical. We love helping communities to solve their broadband problems locally. We love finding new communities that have developed innovative solutions and then helping other communities learn from that approach. We love finding ways to help schools and libraries get better broadband connections at lower prices. We love seeing local businesses flourish because the community built infrastructure for itself that big cable and DSL companies neglected to provide. Thank you, Government Technology and all the others who have helped us to be effective in this space. We look forward to continuing our efforts and building better networks.