Tag: "policy"

Posted August 19, 2022 by Sean Gonsalves

AARP Minnesota has taken notice: “broadband infrastructure has not been deployed evenly to communities across the state.”

In an effort to raise awareness about the “good news” of state and federal investments to expand infrastructure and how local leaders and residents can learn how to push for better broadband access in their communities, the Minnesota chapter of the AARP will host a “Critical Access: Broadband Expansion in Minnesota” webinar beginning at 1 p.m. CT Wednesday, Aug. 24.

Our own Christopher Mitchell, Director of Community Broadband Networks with the Institute for Local Self-Reliance, will be a featured speaker for the one-hour event and will be joined by Cathy McLeer, State Director for AARP Minnesota, as well as Lori Vrolson, Executive Director of the Central Minnesota Council on Aging.

McLeer has been with AARP Minnesota since 2005, having first served as the Associate State Director for Communications in the South Dakota State Office, then as a Senior Advisor for the Central Region, before becoming the Minnesota State Director where she has been a powerful advocate on behalf of Minnesota’s 630,000 AARP members.

Vrolson has more than 27 years’ experience working on aging issues. Currently, as Executive Director of the Central MN Council on Aging (CMCOA), which serves the 14 counties in the central region of Minnesota, she has overseen the organization’s administration of the federal Older Americans Act funding program for non-medical in-home services. Vrolson’s work has more recently been focused on developing Lifetime Communities, expanding evidence-based chronic disease self-management resources, and assisting older adults as they transition across health and long-term care settings.

Mitchell will share insights on how broadband expansion works, new opportunities for funding, and how local leaders and residents can bring new projects to their communities....

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Posted July 22, 2022 by Ry Marcattilio

Billions in federal funding planned for investment over the next half decade means that, more than ever, we need dedicated, smart, capable people to ensure that public funds go to pragmatic, equitable, locally controlled infrastructure and programs. The National Digital Inclusion Alliance (NDIA) has been a clear and leading voice on policy issues since its formation, and their team is growing. It's an opportunity to join a talented team doing crucial work.

Currently, the organization is hiring for three positions.

Policy Manager

The National Digital Inclusion Alliance (NDIA) is seeking an enthusiastic and qualified Policy Manager (or Associate) to help lead NDIA’s expanding portfolio of state support projects and federal policy initiatives. A strong candidate will possess the right combination of digital inclusion expertise, creativity, a collaborative spirit, and self-motivation; and will have a passion for advancing digital equity policy at the federal, state and local level and supporting state governments as they implement the Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act. 

Program Manager

The National Digital Inclusion Alliance (NDIA) is seeking an enthusiastic and qualified Program Manager to help lead NDIA’s work supporting local organizations and affiliates, including digital inclusion coalitions, local and regional governments, and community-based organizations. A strong candidate will possess the right combination of practical expertise, creativity, a collaborative spirit, and self-motivation; and will have a passion for the unique role that local organizations and collaborations play in advancing digital inclusion efforts, with a particular focus on promoting racial and social equity.

Research and Data Manager

The National Digital Inclusion Alliance (NDIA) is seeking an enthusiastic and qualified Research & Data Manager to help lead NDIA’s expanding portfolio of research and data work. A strong candidate will possess the right combination of technical expertise, creativity, a collaborative spirit, and self-motivation; and will have a passion for using data to understand and support digital inclusion efforts, with a particular focus on promoting racial and social equity.

This is an opportunity to work...

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Posted June 22, 2022 by Ry Marcattilio

Join us live on Thursday, June 23rd, at 4pm ET in the chat for the latest episode of the Connect This! Show. Co-hosts Christopher Mitchell (ILSR) and Travis Carter (USI Fiber) will be joined by regular guests Kim McKinley (UTOPIA Fiber) and Doug Dawson (CCG Consulting).

The panel will discuss Verizon and T-Mobile Fixed Wireless Access (FWA) adds, LTE versus Starlink, and Dish and the future and impact of the 12GHz spectrum bands. They'll also touch on a few other topics, including the headaches and heartaches of the Affordable Connectivity Program (ACP), rhetoric versus reality when it comes to municipal broadband, and the real cost in transitioning from DSL to fiber.

Subscribe to the show using this feed on YouTube Live or here on Facebook Live, on find it on the Connect This! page.

Email us broadband@muninetworks.org with feedback and ideas for the show.

Watch here on YouTube Live, here on Facebook live, or below.

Posted June 9, 2022 by Ry Marcattilio

In March, the Institute for Local Self-Reliance and the National Digital Inclusion Alliance held a livestream event on the range of challenges and tools available to communities to accomplish infrastructure, equity, and inclusion goals. We called it Building for Digital Equity: Demystifying Broadband Policy and Funding. There, we discussed the new policies and funding options available that can be applied at the state and local levels to help communities improve their Internet services.

This time we will be focusing on organizing around broadband, community impact of the federal funding, and new initiatives in progress thanks to the grants communities are taking advantage of. 

Join us on Wednesday June 29th from 1:00pm-2:15pm ET as we discuss what's happening on the ground in these communities and what some of them are planning to do with the new federal broadband dollars. We are calling it Building for Digital Equity, Chapter 2: Claiming Broadband For Your Community. Register here.

This event will feature:

  • Your favorite co-host:  Christopher Mitchell of ILSR and Pamela Rosales of NDIA
  • Videos from communities discussing what they are planning and doing with the funding
  • Discussing the “how” in organizing communities
  • Guest speakers discussing organizing strategies, and success stories.
  • The return of the crowd favorite Broadband Trivia!

Looking forward to seeing you all there!

Event Links

Register for Building for Digital Equity, Chapter 2 here to get the livestream links; on the day of the event, it will also be available on Twitter, via @netinlusion, @communitynets and @muninetworks

During the livestream, you can also join the trivia game (link to follow).

Note: There is no need to join the trivia game ahead...

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Posted May 31, 2022 by Ry Marcattilio

This week on the podcast, while attending the 2022 Broadband Communities Summit in Houston earlier this month, Christopher was joined by Angie Kronenberg, Chief Advocate and General Counsel for INCOMPAS, a leading trade association advocating on behalf of telecommunication policies that encourage competition.

The pair kick-off the podcast with a fun nod to Angie’s involvement on a “speed dating” panel where the concept of “overbuilding” (industry-speak for competition) was a hot topic of discussion.

The two then delve into an overview of what INCOMPAS has been working on in light of the unprecedented amount of federal funds being funneled into states to expand high-speed Internet access – covering everything from managing conflict among its members who themselves are competitors to engaging state and local officials on ways to leverage federal and state grant funds to promote competition, particularly as it relates to open-access fiber networks.

Before the show’s end, Chris and Angie discuss a recent INCOMPAS campaign known as “Broadland” – a campaign aimed to influence Congress to fund the construction of fiber networks, which is fundamental even for wireless technology including 5G to work successfully. They even manage to talk about net neutrality as well as how “inmate phone justice” impacts crime rates.

This show is 30 minutes long and can be played on this page or via iTunes or the tool of your choice using this feed. You can listen to the interview on this page or visit the Community Broadband Bits page.

Transcript coming soon. 

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 ...

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Posted March 29, 2022 by Ry Marcattilio

On Wednesday, March 16th, the Institute for Local Self-Reliance teamed up with the National Digital Inclusion Alliance for a two-hour, fast-paced webinar on the ways communities can accomplish digital equity goals called Building for Digital Equity: Demystifying Broadband Policy and Funding. It was just as fun to do as we hoped, and packed with speakers providing practical, easy-to-understand advice and a wonderful audience full of questions and additional information.

We heard from an array of people and about a host of projects, from Broadband Action Teams in Washington state, to coalitions in Maine, an update on the Digital Navigator model, mapping, talking to local governments, and a breakdown of the funding available to communities.

If you did not have a chance to leave feedback for us, please do it here - especially if you have ideas for segments in future events.

We also want to make sure you have links to all of the resources shared by the event speakers:

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Posted March 2, 2022 by Sean Gonsalves

Last week we invited you to save the date for a two-hour livestream event Building for Digital Equity: Demystifying Broadband Policy and Funding that the Institute for Local Self-Reliance (ILSR) is co-organizing with the National Digital Inclusion Alliance (NDIA).

We told you this event – which will be held on Wednesday, March 16th, from 2-4pm ET – was not going to be your average conference or webinar with 45-minute panels that make your derriere doze off or your eyes glaze over like a stale donut.

We are aiming for a fast-paced, fun, and interactive virtual gathering of network builders, local stakeholders, policy advocates, and funding experts from across the country that will feature a mix of short presentations, a sprinkling of trivia and prizes, and panels with Q & A’s that will be accessible on a variety of popular social media platforms.

Well, the event is coming together, promising to offer practical insights on how communities can seize this unprecedented moment to pursue community-driven broadband solutions.

You can register for the event here.

Here’s a sneak peek at the line-up:

 

  • It will be emceed by our own Christopher Mitchell, director of ILSR’s Community Broadband Networks Initiative, and NDIA’s Training and Community Engagement Manager, Pamela Rosales
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Posted February 15, 2022 by Ry Marcattilio

We're living through a time with an unprecedented level of broadband infrastructure funding, fueled not only by the American Rescue Plan, but the Consolidated Appropriations Act, the Coronavirus Capital Projects Fund, and the Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act. Hundreds of community-driven projects are already underway, but finding solid footing amidst these programs, statutes, and evolving rules is difficult. 

To help, the Institute for Local Self-Reliance is teaming up with the National Digital Inclusion Alliance for a two-hour livestream event to demystify the landscape. On Wednesday, March 16th, from 2-4pm ET, we're hosting an online conversation to bring together local stakeholders, policy advocates, and funding experts in one place. We're calling it Building for Digital Equity: Demystifying Broadband Policy and Funding.

But this isn't your average conference or webinar, with 45-minute panels that make your butt go numb and your eyes glaze over. Oh no. We're aiming for a fast-paced, fun, and most importantly interactive conversation between policy advocates, network builders, local officials, and anyone else interested in learning how we can ensure that the tens of billions in upcoming infrastructure funding goes to solving the connectivity crisis permanently rather than once again disappearing into the pockets of the monopoly Internet Service Providers (ISPs).

The event will feature a mixture of short presentations, panels with Q and A across a bunch of different platforms (so you can watch wherever you want), and trivia with prizes.

The topic list will certainly grow, but right now it includes things like:

  • How to advocate to state legislatures to best prepare for the flood of federal money
  • What cities can do with Rescue Plan...
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Posted February 6, 2022 by Ry Marcattilio

By Karl Bode and Ry Marcattilio-McCracken

 The FCC’s Rural Digital Opportunity Fund (RDOF) Reverse Auction was completed a little more than a year ago to much fanfare and spilled ink, and though we’ve seen irregular updates over the last twelve months, we thought it worth the time to round up what we know so far in an effort to see where we’re at and determine what is likely to come.

The RDOF was built to award up to $20.4 billion in grants over 10 years using competitive reverse auctions generally won by the lowest bidder. The money comes from the Universal Service Fund fees affixed to consumers’ monthly telecom bills. The previous FCC announced $9.2 billion in auction winners in December of 2020. 

To date the FCC has announced five rounds of Authorized funding released, six rounds of applicants whose bids they have decided are Ready-to-Authorize, and three rounds of Default bids. 

It’s clear that the final picture is still taking shape, but looking at things a year later leaves us feeling a little better than we were immediately after the auction closed. To date, it appears the FCC is closely scrutinizing many of the bidders that most worried industry veterans and broadband advocates, while releasing funds for projects that will bring future-proof connectivity to hundreds of thousands of homes over the next ten years.

Moving Slowly on Problematic Awards

The biggest news so far is that of the top ten winners, seven look to have received no funds at all (see table below or high-resolution version here). That’s $4.1 billion worth of bids for almost 1.9 million locations, and includes LTD Broadband, SpaceX’s Starlink, AMG Technologies (NextLink), Frontier, Resound Networks, Starry (Connect Everyone), and CenturyLink. This is a big deal.

Among the top 10 bidders who have received funds or will shortly, Windstream has received about two-...

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Posted January 13, 2022 by Christopher Mitchell

Communities across the United States got an unexpected gift from the Biden Administration last week in the form of additional flexibility to use Rescue Plan funds for needed broadband investments, particularly those focused on low-income neighborhoods in urban areas. 

When Congress developed and passed the American Rescue Plan Act, it tasked the Treasury Department with writing the rules for some key programs, including the State & Local Fiscal Recovery Funds (SLFRF). That program is distributing $350 billion to local and state governments, which can use it for a variety of purposes that include broadband infrastructure and digital inclusion efforts.

Treasury released an Interim Final Rule in May, 2021, detailing how local governments would be allowed to invest in broadband. I promptly freaked out, at the restrictions and complications that I (and others) feared would result in local governments backing away from needed broadband investments due to fears of being out of compliance with the rule. 

After we worked with numerous local leaders and the National League of Cities to explain the problems we saw in the proposed rule, Treasury released updated guidance in the form of a Q&A document to explain how local governments would be able to build and partner for needed networks. 

Given the many challenges the Biden Administration has had to deal with, we did not expect significant new changes to the Rescue Plan rules around the SLFRF. But after many months of deliberations, the Treasury Department has resolved all of the concerns that we identified as areas of concern in May. 

As we explain below, local governments have wide latitude to use SLFRF funds for a variety of needed broadband infrastructure investments, especially to resolve affordability challenges.

Summary and TL;DR

 

The rest of this post will cover some key points in the Final Rule with references to the text in the hopes that it will help communities better understand their options and share key passages with their advisers and attorneys...

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