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The Success of Urbana-Champaign's Broadband Revolution - Episode 601 of the Community Broadband Bits Podcast

In this episode of the podcast, Chris sits down with Paul Dixson and Mike Smeltzer to discuss the transformative UC2B (Urbana-Champaign Big Broadband) project. Paul Dixson, co-chair of UC2B and former CIO of the University of Illinois, and Mike Smeltzer, often referred to as the "father of UC2B," share their insights and experiences from the inception of the initiative to its current status.

The conversation delves into the origins of UC2B, which received initial funding through an NTIA grant as part of the 2009 Broadband Technology Opportunities Program (BTOP). The project aimed to build a robust fiber optic infrastructure to serve the Champaign-Urbana area, including underserved neighborhoods and a wide array of anchor institutions like schools, libraries, senior centers, and even a Zen meditation center.

They discuss the significant impact UC2B has had on local broadband competition, driving other providers to improve their services and infrastructure. Paul and Mike reflect on the challenges and successes over the past decade, highlighting the public-private partnership that has been crucial to the project’s sustainability and growth. As of today, UC2B is nearing the completion of its goal to provide high-speed fiber access to every home and business in Champaign-Urbana, demonstrating a model for community-driven broadband initiatives nationwide.

Join us to learn about the history, challenges, and triumphs of UC2B, and get inspired by the potential of community broadband projects to bridge the digital divide and foster economic growth.

This show is 31 minutes long and can be played on this page or via Apple Podcasts or the tool of your choice using this feed.

Transcript below.

We want your feedback and suggestions for the show-please e-mail us or leave a comment below.

Listen to other episodes or view all episodes in our index. See other podcasts from the Institute for Local Self-Reliance.

Thanks to Arne Huseby for the music. The song is Warm Duck Shuffle and is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution (3.0) license.

The Power of Empowering Marginalized Communities - Episode 600 of the Community Broadband Bits Podcast

On this 600th episode of the podcast, Chris is joined by Dwayne Douglas from The Quilt Corporation, who shares his journey of bridging the digital divide in marginalized areas of Chicago by using innovative solutions like mesh Wi-Fi and point-to-point fiber connections to empower residents with essential digital skills and access.

Dwayne discusses the importance of digital literacy and engagement, emphasizing how these efforts can unlock numerous opportunities for personal and community growth. From acquiring dark fiber to partnering with local organizations, The Quilt Corporation is pioneering ways to make broadband more accessible and affordable.

This conversation highlights the critical need for sustainable, community-driven approaches to digital equity. Tune in to learn about the challenges and triumphs of implementing technology in neighborhoods that have long been overlooked.

This show is 26 minutes long and can be played on this page or via Apple Podcasts or the tool of your choice using this feed.

Transcript below.

We want your feedback and suggestions for the show-please e-mail us or leave a comment below.

Listen to other episodes or view all episodes in our index. See other podcasts from the Institute for Local Self-Reliance.

Thanks to Arne Huseby for the music. The song is Warm Duck Shuffle and is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution (3.0) license.

Discussion on the Black Brilliance Research Project with Shaun Glaze and Chris Webb - Episode 599 of the Community Broadband Bits Podcast

This week, on another special edition of the podcast, we feature the latest episode of our biweekly podcast, the Building for Digital Equity Podcast, where Chris speaks with Dr. Shaun Glaze, Research Director, and Chris Webb, Digital Equity Lead, from the Black Brilliance Research Project based in Seattle, Washington.

They delve into the project's roots in response to George Floyd's tragedy in 2020. Dr. Glaze sheds light on their unique research approach, which merges traditional methods with community activism, driving toward solutions tailored by and for the community.

The B4DE podcast features short interviews with digital inclusion practitioners from across the nation, focusing on frontline work to expand Internet access, address affordability, and help provide the digital skills and devices necessary to fully participate in a digital world.

With our Building for Digital Equity podcast series returning, you can visit our B4DE podcast page for this and future episodes here.

This show is 26 minutes long and can be played on this page or via Apple Podcasts or the tool of your choice using this feed.

Transcript below.

We want your feedback and suggestions for the show-please e-mail us or leave a comment below.

Listen to other episodes or view all episodes in our index. See other podcasts from the Institute for Local Self-Reliance.

Thanks to Arne Huseby for the music. The song is Warm Duck Shuffle and is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution (3.0) license.

Middle-Mile Madness - Episode 598 of the Community Broadband Bits Podcast

Join us this week for a special edition of the podcast, where we revisit a captivating conversation from the latest episode of our biweekly livestream show, Connect This! Co-hosts Christopher Mitchell and Travis Carter will be joined by our regular guests Doug Dawson and Kim McKinley, along with special guest Doug Maglothin. 

Together, they delve deep into the current state of middle-mile infrastructure in the United States and explore strategies for addressing the often-overlooked pathways that connect our cities and towns to the core networks that comprise the Internet.

For more information on Connect This! and to find previous episodes, please visit our website at connectthisshow.org

This show is 52 minutes long and can be played on this page or via Apple Podcasts or the tool of your choice using this feed.

Transcript below.

We want your feedback and suggestions for the show-please e-mail us or leave a comment below.

Listen to other episodes or view all episodes in our index. See other podcasts from the Institute for Local Self-Reliance.

Thanks to Arne Huseby for the music. The song is Warm Duck Shuffle and is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution (3.0) license.

Wired for Good: Exploring Rural Connectivity in West Virginia - Episode 597 of the Community Broadband Bits Podcast

In this latest episode of the podcast, Chris is joined by Derek Barr, Assistant General Manager at Hardy Telecommunications in West Virginia. Together, they delve into the intricate world of nonprofit cooperatives, focusing on the journey of Hardy Telecommunications since its inception in 1953. 

Originally established to fill the service gap left by larger providers, Hardy Telecommunications has since expanded its offerings to include broadband services, becoming a lifeline for rural communities with about 6,100 access lines and nearly 5,100 broadband customers.

Derek candidly shares the rollercoaster ride of being a small provider, from wearing multiple hats to navigating the maze of regulatory changes. They explore the ripple effects of federal funding programs like the Broadband Initiatives Program (BIP) and the Rural Digital Opportunity Fund (RDOF) on their expansion efforts.

But it's not just about challenges; Chris and Derek paints a picture of hope through partnerships with counties and emphasizes the ongoing need for support and funding to keep the broadband momentum going in rural areas.

This show is 36 minutes long and can be played on this page or using the podcast app of your choice with this feed.

Transcript below.

We want your feedback and suggestions for the show: please e-mail us or leave a comment below.

Listen to other episodes here or 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.

Debunking Municipal Broadband Myths - Episode 596 of the Community Broadband Bits Podcast

In this latest episode of the podcast, Chris is joined again by Sean Gonsalves to delve into the arguments against municipal broadband that have surfaced in the recent weeks.

Chris and Sean dissect claims made by opponents of municipal broadband, providing insights and rebuttals to counter these arguments. They offer a balanced perspective on the challenges and opportunities associated with community-owned broadband networks. 

While addressing the criticisms, they also highlight the success stories of municipal networks across the country. By showcasing examples of thriving community broadband initiatives, they illustrate the potential benefits and positive impacts of local broadband ownership.

The conversation concludes with them emphasizing the importance of local communities having the autonomy to make decisions about their broadband infrastructure. They advocate for empowering communities to pursue broadband solutions that best serve their unique needs and interests.

This show is 31 minutes long and can be played on this page or using the podcast app of your choice with this feed.

Transcript below.

We want your feedback and suggestions for the show: please e-mail us or leave a comment below.

Listen to other episodes here or 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.

A Deep Dive into Iowa Broadband: Challenges, Solutions, and Collaboration - Episode 595 of the Community Broadband Bits Podcast

In this latest episode of the podcast, Christopher is joined by Curtis Dean, Vice President of the Community Broadband Action Network (CBAN), to delve into the state of broadband in Iowa and the impactful work undertaken by CBAN.

Fresh insights into Iowa's broadband landscape are unveiled as Curtis sheds light on the hurdles faced by local providers in securing funding and navigating regulatory frameworks. Drawing parallels with successful municipal broadband endeavors like the one in Fort Dodge, Chris and Curtis emphasizes the pivotal role of local control in driving broadband expansion initiatives.

The episode also serves as a platform for Curtis to announce upcoming events within the broadband community, including the eagerly anticipated CBAN Spring Summit and the Iowa Association of Municipal Utilities Municipal Broadband Conference, fostering collaboration and knowledge-sharing among stakeholders.

As the conversation concludes, listeners gain a deeper understanding of the collaborative spirit driving Iowa's municipal broadband community and the imperative of empowering local, community-focused providers in the quest for equitable broadband access.

This show is 30 minutes long and can be played on this page or using the podcast app of your choice with this feed.

Transcript below.

We want your feedback and suggestions for the show: please e-mail us or leave a comment below.

Listen to other episodes here or 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.

The Question of Internet Affordability Beyond ACP - Episode 594 of the Community Broadband Bits Podcast

In the latest episode of the podcast, Christopher reunites with Ry Marcattilio and Sean Gonsalves to tackle the conclusion of the Affordable Connectivity Program (ACP) and the pressing need for sustainable solutions to internet affordability across the United States.

Fresh from the recent Building for Digital Equity (B4DE) Event, this discussion zeroes in on internet affordability, shedding light on successful models and strategies employed by community-owned broadband networks in various municipalities. Examples from Pharr, Texas, and Chattanooga, Tennessee, illustrate effective approaches to providing affordable internet access within local communities.

Wrapping up the conversation are updates on recent developments, including the FCC's redefinition of broadband, the expansion of Longmont's municipal network in Colorado, and a sneak peek into an upcoming podcast episode covering the recent Tribal Broadband Bootcamp held at RantanenTown Ranch in Southern California.

This show is 25 minutes long and can be played on this page or using the podcast app of your choice with this feed.

Transcript below.

We want your feedback and suggestions for the show: please e-mail us or leave a comment below.

Listen to other episodes here or 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.

Unlocking Community-Driven Broadband Initiatives with Brian Snider - Episode 593 of the Community Broadband Bits Podcast

In this podcast episode, Christopher engages in a discussion with Brian Snider, the founder of Lit Communities. They explore Brian's extensive background in the broadband industry and delve into the importance of community-driven broadband initiatives in today's landscape.

Chris and Brian emphasize the need for innovative business models to effectively address the digital divide, ensuring equitable access to high-quality broadband services for all communities. Additionally, they shed light on the complexities of navigating private equity involvement, highlighting the importance of community empowerment in managing broadband infrastructure.

The episode concludes with Brian underscoring the pivotal role of education and workforce development in shaping the future of the broadband industry. He also emphasizes the necessity for communities to take control of their broadband destinies.

This show is 40 minutes long and can be played on this page or using the podcast app of your choice with this feed.

Transcript below.

We want your feedback and suggestions for the show: please e-mail us or leave a comment below.

Listen to other episodes here or 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.

Data Challenges for Equitable Broadband Access In Fresno, CA and Beyond - Episode 592 of the Community Broadband Bits Podcast

In this podcast episode, Christopher engages in a conversation with Philip Neufeld, the Executive Officer for Information Technology at the Fresno Unified School District. They delve into the crucial role of data in addressing broadband connectivity challenges in low-income neighborhoods, stressing the need for accurate and comprehensive data to guide policy decisions and investment strategies.

Philip's proactive data collection efforts in Fresno, particularly through speed tests on school devices, offer valuable insights into connectivity issues. He emphasizes the importance of using this data to advocate for solutions that bridge the digital divide.

The episode concludes by exploring the limitations of current mapping methods and the urgent need for more accurate data to drive effective and targeted solutions. Highlighting a collaborative approach, they underscore the significance of public-private partnerships and community coalitions in advocating for equitable broadband access in low-income neighborhoods.

This show is 44 minutes long and can be played on this page or using the podcast app of your choice with this feed.

Transcript below.

We want your feedback and suggestions for the show: please e-mail us or leave a comment below.

Listen to other episodes here or 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.