competition

Content tagged with "competition"

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Building Frontline Digital Equity Tools at Education Superhighway - Episode 543 of the Community Broadband Bits Podcast

This week on the podcast, Christopher is joined by Evan Marwell (CEO) and Jenny Miller (Director of Government Affairs), from the nonprofit Education Superhighway. Begun as an organization aimed at improving Internet access for schools, today Education Superhighway focuses its efforts on leveraging data and on-the-ground work to bring solutions for the more than 18 million households with basic broadband infrastructure available to them but for whom the price of connectivity is too high. 

Evan and Jenny share more than a decade of work in working at the national, state, and local level to build tools like www.getacp.org, which simplifies the monthly subsidy application process, and their LearnACP program, which aims to train frontline workers signing individuals up. Finally, they talk with Chris about Education Superhighway's work to collect and publicize eRate contracts, which has helped create a more vigorous marketplace for school campus connectivity, dramatically lowering the price and increasing speeds for k-12 education centers.

This show is 30 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.

Lewis County Pushes Forward with Open Access Fiber Plan

Lewis County, Washington and the Lewis County Public Utility District (PUD) are making progress with their plan to deploy an open access fiber network that should dramatically boost broadband competition—and lower prices—county wide by 2026.

In November 2019, Lewis County PUD received a $50,000 grant from the Community Economic Revitalization Board (CERB) to study the county’s broadband shortcomings and determine whether taking direct action to address them made sense. In early 2020, the PUD formed the Lewis County Broadband Action Team (BAT) to further study community needs.

Those inquiries found what most U.S. communities know too well: concentrated monopolization had left county residents overpaying for substandard, expensive, and spotty broadband access unsuitable for modern living.

In response, the Lewis County PUD announced in 2021 it would be building an 134-mile-long fiber backbone and open access fiber network for around $104 million. Around $23.5 million of that total will be paid for by a recently awarded grant by the Washington State Department of Commerce, itself made possible by the American Rescue Plan Act (ARPA).

Summit County, Ohio Building $75 Million, 125-Mile Fiber Ring

Summit County, Ohio says it’s making progress on a $75 million, 125-mile fiber-optic ring made possible courtesy of American Recovery Plan Act (ARPA) funds. The project will start by providing gigabit connectivity to all county first responders, after which county leaders say they’ll focus on shoring up lagging broadband access to long-neglected communities.

A 2017 report by an outside consultant found that Summit County, like so much of America, struggles with a dearth of affordable broadband access thanks to a heavily monopolized U.S. broadband market. The county’s fixed-line broadband market is dominated by two major incumbents, Centurylink and Comcast, and wireless access remains spotty across large swatches of the county’s more rural territories.

Introduced last year, Summit County Executive Ilene Shapiro noted the network will first connect all 31 city, village and township governments to gigabit speed broadband and a data center. The network is expected to cost as much as $75 million. $35 million of that total will be pulled from the $105 million in ARPA funding received by the county.

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Summit County Ohio police vehicle

Summit County’s interest in more affordable broadband extends back years. County leaders played a key role in beating back monopoly efforts in the state legislature to effectively ban publicly-owned broadband networks. Once those efforts were defeated, county leaders began formulating their broadband expansion plans in earnest.

Powering Up With BrightRidge in Johnson City, Tennessee - Episode 542 of the Community Broadband Bits Podcast

This week on the show, Christopher is joined by Stacy Evans, Chief Broadband and Technology Officer at BrightRidge, the municipal network for Johnson City, Tennessee. When last we spoke, the electric utility-powered network had just passed its first dozen homes. Three and a half years later, the municipal network has passed more than 10,000 premises. It returns more than $5 million per year to local goverment via payments in lieu of taxes (PILOT) (not to mention keeping electric prices low), and has driven both of the incumbent providers to increase speeds and lower prices. Christopher and Stacy talk about the value that's returned to the region, and how BrightRidge is only gaining steam - it's two years ahead of its build schedule, and using grants and Rescue Plan funds to reach thousands of households not accounted for in the original design, ensuring that as many people will get access to affordable, locally owned fiber as quickly as possible.

This show is 32 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.

NYC Co-op Told To Pull Free Service From Affordable Housing After City’s Reversal On Open Access Fiber

Last November we noted how New York City had scrapped its longstanding plan to build a promising open access fiber network. Not only did that stark reversal leave many partner ISPs high and dry after years of planning, some local community-run ISPs now say the city is forcing them to remove existing free service to affordable housing developments.

People’s Choice Communications, a small NYC cooperative cobbled together by striking Charter Communications workers, was one of several ISPs left in a lurch by the sudden reversal by the Adams administration.

Adding insult to injury, the ISP is now being told by the city to pull existing service provided for free to marginalized communities in The Bronx.

New York City’s original master plan was poised to be a game changer when it was first introduced back in 2020. The plan not only included a pilot program designed to bring affordable broadband to 450,000 residents of New York City Housing Authority (NYCHA) buildings, but a plan to spend $156 million on a pilot open access fiber network.

The proposal was to showcase the real-world benefits of the open access model, which data suggests results in significantly lower costs and higher quality service thanks to increased competition. If successful, the city would have then considered a bigger $2.1 billion plan to deploy such a network citywide, providing a template for major metropolitan areas nationwide.

New Mayor, Old Playbook

With the election of a new mayor, everything changed.

IN OUR VIEW: City Cast Provides Good Lessons for Covering Broadband

City Cast Las Vegas recently aired back-to-back podcast episodes about Internet access in the region, "Why Does Our Internet Suck?" followed by "Who Can Fix Our Internet?" As an organization that both produces stories like that as well as stars on them, as our own Sean Gonsalves did in the first episode, we wanted to share why we think these are well done and should serve as good lessons for others covering these issues.

The interviewer, Dayvid Figler, is on point with questions and the show offers a concise description of the challenge and potential solutions. It turns out that Dayvid also worked as a trial lawyer though, so perhaps not many reporters will be able to simply summon that level of command to shape the conversation. Nonetheless, these two shows are wonderfully informative.

The first episode sets up the second, which is where I want to spend more time. Dayvid's questions help Sean explain what broadband is and why some neighborhoods are left behind - one of the more common questions we see on this subject. They discussed who owns existing networks and what fiber is and why we should care.

Dayvid lays the groundwork for the second show by asking why competition hasn't solved the problem of why people are frustrated with their Internet service and Sean explains that while there is no one-size-fits-all solution, the Institute for Local Self-Reliance believes communities need to take action to improve their service.

The second episode features Brian Mitchell, Director of the Nevada State Office of Science and Innovation. No relation to me, Christopher Mitchell, or my boss, Stacy Mitchell (none of us are related - there are just a lot of Mitchells, ok?).

Developments in Iowa and a Fresh New Look for CommunityNets.org - Episode 541 of the Community Broadband Bits Podcast

This week on the show, Christopher, Sean, and Ry sit down to catch up on a handful of community broadband projects in Baltimore and Iowa. Waterloo had a recent vote to embark on a citywide fiber network, and it's garnering some attention from national providers. Equally exciting is that West Des Moines has taken great strides in the construction of its citywide conduit network, with plans to be done by the end of the year. Christopher, Sean, and Ry end the show by talking about the new CommunityNets.org, and putting a fresh coat of paint on the digital home of the Community Broadband Networks initiative. 

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.

Open Access Conduit in West Des Moines, Iowa Brings Google Fiber, Choice to City Residents

West Des Moines, Iowa is making steady progress on a $60 million open access fiber-optic conduit system to expedite the delivery of affordable fiber citywide. And they’re doing it with the help of Google Fiber, which has slowly started to reverse course after the company’s 2016 decision to lay off hundreds of staff and freeze most meaningful expansion.

West Des Moines is a suburb of Des Moines with a population of 67,000 residents. Like so many U.S. communities, locals have long complained of high broadband prices, spotty coverage, and terrible customer service by the area’s entrenched local monopolies. Iowa studies routinely identify substandard broadband access as a top regional complaint.  

So, as in many communities across the U.S., West Des Moines leaders decided to do something about it, in the form of a new public-private partnership with Google. The $60 million bond-funded project will result in citywide fiber conduit, which will be made available to any Internet service provider (ISP) interested in serving the city in a bid to dramatically boost local broadband competition.

The city is hopeful that ISP access costs ultimately cover the full build cost of the fledgling network. Google Fiber has already committed to pay the city an estimated $16 million to access the city’s new open access conduit system. Other ISPs that have never served the city before, including locally owned and operated Mi-Fiber, have also stated they’ll pay to access the conduit.

Generate City Revenue and Meet Growing Need of Residents

West Des Moines first announced the project in the summer of 2020, noting that it would lay more than a 1,000 miles of conduit alongside city streets, after which Google would come in and deploy its own fiber network to every last city address. In preparation, Google Fiber opened a brick and mortar retail location in West Des Moines in 2021.

Ziply, iFIBER Merger Could Boost Washington State Broadband Access

Ziply Fiber has been increasingly active across Washington State, helping municipalities expand access to affordable, open access fiber networks. Those efforts have received a significant boost with the news that Ziply has acquired iFiber Communications, a Washington state open access ISP that works closely with Washington’s growing public utility districts (PUDs).

According to the Ziply announcement, the acquisition was for an undisclosed sum, but should dramatically help the company’s focus on expanding affordable fiber broadband service to Pacific Northwest customers long unserved or underserved by regional broadband monopolies like Comcast and Frontier Communications.

Ziply Fiber has unveiled new fiber construction projects across more than 90 cities and towns across the Northwest since the company began its fiber expansion plans in the summer of 2020. The iFiber acquisition is the second this year, Ziply having acquired Oregon fiber and wireless ISP Eastern Oregon Net, Inc (EONI) last June.

They’ve been particularly active in Washington state, most recently partnering with the Snohomish county government to leverage a $16.7 million Broadband Infrastructure Acceleration grant to expand affordable fiber access across the county. Ziply’s also been in talks with Whidbey Island, Washington officials on a major fiber expansion push.

Waterloo, Iowa Voters GO Forward with Municipal Fiber Network

After years of consideration and planning, Waterloo, Iowa is finally moving quickly forward with its plan to build a citywide municipal fiber network. Once complete, the network aims to provide the city’s 67,695 residents with an affordable, fiber-based alternative to local monopolized broadband options that have long left regional locals frustrated and disappointed.  

Waterloo expects that it will cost somewhere around $115 million to build the necessary fiber backbone and connect all Waterloo residents and businesses to the fledgling network. City officials expect the first customers to go live sometime later this year at up to gigabit speeds, though it will take roughly three years for the entire network to be built.

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Waterloo Iowa map

Much like the rest of the country, Waterloo leaders and residents received a crash course in the importance of affordable broadband during the Covid crisis, when the country’s spotty, sluggish, and expensive broadband networks were on full display due to a massive rise in telecommuting and home education.

Voters Declare GO Time on Muni Broadband

Fueled by frustration, Waterloo voters in September overwhelmingly approved the city issuing general obligation bonds to fund the start of construction for a city-wide municipal fiber network.