open access

Content tagged with "open access"

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

In 2021, California passed Senate Bill 156, an ambitious plan allocating $6 billion to shore up affordable broadband access throughout the state.

Among the most notable of the bill’s proposals was a plan to spend $3.25 billion on an open-access statewide broadband middle-mile network backers say could transform competition in the state.

An additional $2 billion has also been earmarked for last mile deployment. Both components will be heavily funded by Coronavirus relief funds and federal Broadband Equity, Access, and Deployment (BEAD) subsidies as well as California State Government grants – with all projects to be finished by December 2026 as per federal funding rules.

But while California’s proposal has incredible potential, activists and digital equity advocates remain concerned that the historic opportunity could be squandered due to poor broadband mapping, a notable lack of transparency, and the kind of political dysfunction that has long plagued the Golden State.

Massive Scale, Big Money, Endless Moving Parts

Still, California’s prioritization of open access fiber networks could prove transformative.

Data routinely indicates that open access fiber networks lower market entry costs, boost overall competition, and result in better, cheaper, faster Internet access. Unsurprisingly, such networks are often opposed by entrenched regional monopolies that have grown fat and comfortable on the back of muted competition.

West Des Moines, Iowa is a Model for Open Access Conduit Networks - Episode 573 of the Community Broadband Bits Podcast

A little more than three years ago, the city of West Des Moines, Iowa announced that it would build a citywide open access conduit system to lower the cost of new broadband deployment to facilitate better connections at lower costs for residents. GFiber (formerly Google Fiber), Mediacom, Lumen (formerly CenturyLink), and local ISP Mi-Fiber have since signed on as providers. 

This week on the podcast, Deputy City Manager Jamie Letzring and city Innovations Consultant Dave Lyons join Christopher to talk about overcoming design and legal challenges of building an infrastructure system that remains relatively unique, and the commitment the city has made to reach economically disadvantaged households to make sure everyone has a quality and affordable connection. Finally, they share a little about how the city has been taking steps to use the new conduit system to supplement its already-robust fiber network for government facilities, smart-city initiatives, and more.

This show is 36 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 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.

Cleveland's Two-Pronged Attack To Make ‘Worse-Connected City’ Label A Relic Of The Past

Cleveland, Ohio is putting the finishing touches on an ambitious plan to build a citywide open access fiber network–and deliver affordable fixed wireless service–at minimal cost to city residents. The double-edged proposal aims to bring both meaningful broadband competition–and lower rates–to the long neglected city of 1.7 million people.

Last month, the city announced it had awarded $20 million in ARPA (American Rescue Plan Act) funds to Cleveland-based digital equity non-profit DigitalC. Under the proposal, DigitalC will spend 18 months building a fixed wireless broadband network capable of providing locals with symmetrical 100 Megabit per second (Mbps) service for $18 a month.

DigitalC’s fixed wireless service, EmpowerCLE+, launched in 2018 and accelerated its deployment in 2020 to meet the needs of frustrated parents and workers during peak COVID.

Speaking at ILSR’s and the National Digital Inclusion Alliance (NDIA) Building for Digital Equity (B4DE) event last week, DigitalC CEO Joshua Edmonds noted that the EmpowerCLE+ network currently passes 23,500 households in Cleveland, with 2,300 current subscribers. The city’s new agreement with the city should expand the network’s potential reach to 99.9% of homes in Cleveland.

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Joshua Edmonds on B4DE

“We're thankful for the opportunity and we're just really hoping that people use this as motivation to change things within their respective markets,” Edmonds told ILSR in a phone interview.

Open Access Fiber Network Comes to Rural Enclave in Washington

Public Utility Districts across the state of Washington have become key players in building out high-speed Internet infrastructure for residents and businesses in rural parts of the Evergreen State. One of those PUD’s, the Whatcom County Public Utility District (PUD) is now leading that charge in one of the most difficult-to-reach parts of the state, building an open access dark fiber network that will bring high-speed connectivity to over a thousand homes and businesses in Point Roberts.

Point Roberts is a pen-exclave of Washington State, about 25 miles south of Vancouver. (Pen-exclave: an area that can only be accessed through another country – in this case, Canada). The rural community, known for its peaceful beaches and mountain views, as well as its orca and eagle populations, is just under 5 square miles and home to about 1,200 residents.  

Designated to the United States in 1846 as the border between the United States and Canada was drawn along the 49th parallel, Point Roberts has a distinct geographic identity, which presents a unique challenge when it comes to building broadband infrastructure.

Superior, Wisconsin Greenlights Open Access Fiber Pilot

Superior, Wisconsin officials have given the green light to the first pilot area for Superior’s new city-owned fiber network. Dubbed Connect Superior, the open access fiber network aims to deliver affordable gigabit access to every resident, community anchor institution and business in the city of nearly 27,000.

On July 5, the Superior City Council voted 8-1 to approve deployment in the project’s first pilot area: a swath of around 821 homes and businesses lodged between Tower Avenue, Belknap Street, and North 21st streets. The vote lets the city now begin issuing RFPs for network construction and negotiate with potential network tenants.

In 2020 the city passed a resolution declaring fiber essential infrastructure. In 2021, the city council voted overwhelmingly to move forward on a deployment master plan developed for the city by EntryPoint Networks. The initial $2.26 million cost of the pilot will be paid for with the help of $5 million from the city’s $17 million allocation from the American Rescue Plan Act funding.

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Superior Wisconsin Fiber map

A citywide deployment, should the city pursue it, is expected to cost somewhere around $31 million. The city remains hopeful that much of the cost can be offset by what it hopes will be a 40 percent take rate among local residents and businesses.

Municipal Broadband Opposition Campaign in Bountiful, Utah Fails

Bountiful, Utah officials and community broadband advocates are breathing a sigh of relief as the Utah Taxpayers Association’s “Gather Utah” petition to stop the city from building an open-access network in partnership with UTOPIA Fiber fell short.

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Bountiful city seal

This past Friday was the deadline for “Gather Utah” to collect enough signatures for a petition that would have forced a citywide vote on the $48 million in revenue bonds authorized in May by city councilors to fund network construction.

In a press statement, City Manager Gary Hill said: “hired signature gatherers ultimately failed to collect enough signatures from registered voters to advance the opposition campaign.”

Bountiful Mayor Kendalyn Harris added:

“Bountiful is a unique city. Our residents started this process. They organized a ‘Fiber for Bountiful’ campaign that led to a thorough consideration of many options. We now look forward to offering a vital service to residents and businesses in an increasingly digital world.”

Now, after three years of study and more than two dozen public meetings, Bountiful Fiber will begin construction next month. As we previously reported, the city-owned fiber optic network will provide gigabit speeds to residents and businesses who subscribe for service.

Earlier this month American Association for Public Broadband (AAPB) President Gigi Sohn wrote an op-ed in the Salt Lake Tribune about how the “Gather Utah” campaign (backed by the cable industry) tried to derail the city’s project. After news of the petition failure, Sohn said:

Gaming the FCC's 10-day Rule, Competition on Open Access Networks, and Letters of Credit | Episode 76 of the Connect This! Show

Connect This

Join us Tuesday, July 25th at 2pm ET 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 Doug Dawson (CCG Consulting) and Kim McKinley (UTOPIA Fiber) to talk about all the recent broadband news that's fit to print. 

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

Subscribe to the show using this feed or find it on the Connect This! page, and watch on LinkedIn, on YouTube Live, on Facebook live, or below.

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Wolves in Sheep's Clothing, Trojan Horse Networks, and Flowering BUDs - Episode 561 of the Community Broadband Bits Podcast

This week on the podcast, Christopher is joined by Associate Director for Communications Sean Gonsalves to check in on the move towards a citywide open access fiber-to-the-home (ftth) network in Bountiful, Utah, an expanding institutional network in Fairhaven, Massachusetts, and widespread support among small Maine towns that public dollars should go to publicly owned networks.

Along the way, they chat about the astroturf misinformation campaign being run by the Utah Taxpayer's Association, how a city negotiated a capital fee it's using to build its own network and get out from under Comcast's thumb, and the growing momentum behind Maine's Broadband Utility Districts (BUD) and their quest to improve competition and Internet access for residents.

This show is 38 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 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.

 

Mason PUD 3 is Snaking Its Way Through the Unserved and Underserved Parts of Washington State - Episode 560 of the Community Broadband Bits Podcast

This week on the podcast, Christopher is joined by Justin Holzgrove, Director of Engineering & Utility Services, and Mike Rientjes, Telecommunications Manager, both from Mason County Public Utility District 3 in Washington State. The PUD provides electric service to more than 35,000 households across an area the size of Rhode Island, and began connecting its grid infrastructure to fiber in the late 1990s. Since 2003, it has operated an open access ftth network for households; an endeavor that has sped up since 2015, when residents began clamoring for more. 

Justin and Mike join to talk about how the PUD's efforts have been aided because of the fiberhood model they're using. Once enough households in a region register interest, the PUD's trucks roll into town. Interested homeowners then join those fiberhoods and pay a $25/month construction adder for a period of 12 years - no matter how long a drop their home requires.

The result? Strong word of mouth and indirect marketing have meant some of the highest take rates we've seen on community-owned networks, with an average of 80% across Mason PUD 3's existing service territory, and 100% in some areas. Demand is so strong that the PUD has been working overtime to keep up and deal with supply chain shortages on things like vaults to keep up with the demand.

Watch the video below for more on the history of PUD 3, and the one below that for how the PUD's fiberhood approach works.

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Remote video URL

This show is 28 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 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.

 

 

Garden Spot of Utah Moves to Build Bountiful Fiber Network in Face of Dark Money Campaign

In the Salt Lake City suburb some call “the garden spot of Utah,” Bountiful, Utah officials have settled on a plan to bring Bountiful Fiber and affordable connectivity to its residents and businesses.

By unanimous vote of the city council, the issuance of $48 million in bonds was authorized on May 26 to fund construction of what will be a city-owned open access fiber network.

The city will own the network and lease it out to multiple private Internet service providers (ISPs) – a model that city manager Gary Hill described as a way to create “a competitive marketplace for Internet service providers."

In a letter to city councilors before the bond issuance was authorized, Hill wrote: "Resident requests and sentiment ... demonstrate a need for city involvement to provide adequate, competitive, reliable broadband services.”

After issuing an RFP in November of last year, the city contracted with the nation’s largest open access network – UTOPIA Fiber – to build, operate, and maintain the network. It is expected that construction will take about 2 to 3 years to complete, though some subscribers will likely be lit up for service within 18 months of the start of construction, scheduled to begin this month.

Dark Money Looks to Torpedo Project

A dark money campaign spearheaded by the Utah Taxpayers Association (UTA), however, is threatening to derail the project. The group, whose annual conference is sponsored by Comcast and CenturyLink/Lumen, is backing a “Gather Utah” initiative to obtain signatures for a petition that would stop the city from building the network.