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For years, Palo Alto residents have patiently waited for the city to move forward on building a citywide municipal Fiber-to-the-Premises (FTTP) network. In recent months, local supporters have started pushing harder for progress, noting recent successes in other communities, and by launching Muni Fiber Palo Alto.
In early July, they invited Christopher to give a presentation on municipal broadband and answer questions from community members. Christopher discussed the importance of high quality connectivity, different network models available, and success stories from communities around the country. He shared the many potential benefits of municipal broadband in Palo Alto and addressed some of the challenges cities can face when pursuing broadband projects, including competing with incumbent providers:
“When I hear people in Palo Alto sometimes being concerned about AT&T and Comcast, it’s a good concern to have. You have to have a good business plan, you have to take marketing very seriously, but you should not be intimidated from going into business against them, because frankly, sometimes I hear people say… there’s nothing better than competing against Comcast. Because people really don’t like having Comcast as their provider.”
He also gave an overview of how the Institute for Local Self-Reliance Community Broadband Networks Initiative works to champion community broadband projects, and pointed attendees toward the many resources available on MuniNetworks.org.
Watch Christopher’s presentation in full here:
Learn more about the movement in Palo Alto at MuniFiberPaloAlto.org, and show your support by signing the online petition in favor of a municipal fiber optic network.
A few of us from the Community Broadband Networks Initiative recently attended the BBC Community Toolkit Program & Economic Development conference in downtown Minneapolis. On the first day, Gigi Sohn, Special Counselor for External Affairs for Chairman Wheeler at the FCC received the award from the Coalition for Local Internet Choice for the Local Internet Choice National Champion. The Obama administration’s FCC, under the guidance of Chairman Wheeler and the sage advice of Gigi, has become enlightened to the positive potential of community networks.
To their credit, the agency has dealt with a number of issues, including network neutrality and a number of other consumer centric matters. We have reported on some of them, but the most central to our work has been the issue of state laws that restrict the deployment and expansion of municipal Internet networks. Gigi, as one of Chairman Wheeler’s top advisors on this matter, played a pivotal role in helping the agency pursue municipal networks as a critical aid to local control, competition, and the ultimate national goal of ubiquitous Internet access.
Gigi reflected on the court battle that reversed the FCC ruling from 2015 preempting state barriers that prevent North Carolina and Tennessee municipal utility Internet networks from serving nearby communities. She noted that advocates shared truths about community networks with data about economic development, competition, and quality of life. The benefits of local authority became clear but, unfortunately, the courts showed us that this is not a battle to be fought on the federal level. The court may have agreed with the fact that municipal networks are beneficial, but they did not believe the FCC had the authority to preempt state laws, even if they are counter-productive.
In other words, in order to obtain local Internet choice, the fight has to also be local:
A North Carolina regional tech news publication will host a program on Greenlight, the publicly owned and built fiber optic network of Wilson, North Carolina (pop. 50,000) whose gigabit Internet service has helped transform the community’s economy.
WRAL TechWire’s next Executive Exchange event titled “Building a gigabit ecosystem” will look at how Wilson built its fiber optic system, "turning the one-time tobacco town into North Carolina’s first Internet ecosystem." The event begins at 8 a.m. Friday, Nov. 4 at the Edna Boykin Cultural Center; broadband expert Blair Levin is scheduled to give the keynote address. Levin is former chief of staff at the Federal Communications Commission.
Besides Levin’s keynote speech, the TechWire program also will include a live "fireside chat" about Greenlight with Wilson City Manager Grant Goings and panel discussions.
You can find out more about the program and reserve a spot online.
The Iowa Association of Municipal Utilities (IAMU) is presenting the 5th Annual Broadband Conference on March 30 & 31 in Des Moines. This year, the organization is adding the Municipal Broadband Explorers Track to provide information for communities seeking more information as they consider the publicly owned option.
Our own Chris Mitchell will lead the Expedition and will be accompanied by a number of community leaders who know a thing or two about municipal broadband. Some of the presenters will be:
- Jim Baller, Baller, Herbst, Stokes & Lide
- Vincent Turner, Longmont, CO
- Paul Scott, Decorah Fast Fiber, IA
- Mark Erickson, Sibley County, MN
- Mike Litterer, Waverly Utilities, IA
- Eric Lampland, Lookout Point Communications
The Municipal Broadband Explorers Track offers specialized conversations that community leaders seek as they consider whether or not a muni is right for their town, city, or county. You can view the full agenda here to plan your visit.
You can also register for the conference at the IAMU website.
Over the past year, New England has been a hotspot for broadband initiatives, legislation, and experimentation. The trend will continue into September when Next Century Cities and the National Telecommunications and Information Administration (NTIA) host Digital New England: A Summit for Regional Broadband Leaders on September 27th and 28th in Portland, Maine.
From a description of the event:
Broadband is emerging as a critical driver of economic growth and prosperity in New England. The “Digital New England” broadband summit will bring together state, local and federal officials, industry representatives, community leaders and other key stakeholders to share real-world broadband success stories and lessons learned from across the region. The summit will also examine the gaps that remain and strategize on what still needs to be done to expand access to and adoption of high-speed Internet services for the benefit of all citizens.
The event will start with a welcome reception on Sunday evening. Monday's day-long summit will include discussions on numerous topics that cover investment, access, and adoption. Come listen to some panel discussions and participate in some break-out workshops.
The welcome reception will be held at the Gulf Maine Research Institute at 350 Commercial St. in Portland. Monday's summit will be at the Holiday Inn by the Bay, 88 Spring St. in Portland.
Take a look at the schedule for this free event and register online at the Eventbrite page.
Cambridge, Massachusetts has established a Broadband Task Force and is looking for ways to better its local connectivity. In order to educate the public about the advantages of broadband, the local community CCTV channel will televise presentations and sit-downs between local leaders who can describe how it will impact Cambridge.
The first episode of Cambridge Broadband Matters recently aired and is now available to view. It runs approximately 30 minutes long and features Georgiana Chevry of Cambridge Community Learning Center, Susan Flannery of Cambridge Public Library, and Jay Leslie of the Cambridge Housing Authority.
One of the topics they address in this episode is the connection between broadband and adult education and workforce development. The issue is critical in Cambridge and many communities as we transition to an information based economy.
The community of Lafayette voted 10 years ago this month to create its own municipal FTTH network. In doing so, they created a standard that other communities have tried to emulate. On Tuesday, July 14th at 1:30 p.m. CDT, City-Parish President Joey Durel and LUS Fiber Director Terry Huval will host a Reddit Ask Me Anything about the initiative.
This is a great opportunity to learn about the community's vision, mobilization efforts, and the way it overcame challenges to create a highly successful municipal fiber network.
Prepare your questions and join the conversation at http://reddit.com/r/iama
Here is your video invitation from Terry Huval:
On May 5th, Christopher participated in a panel conversation presented by the City of New Haven and the Connecticut Office of Consumer Counsel. Video of the event, Moving Towards A Gigabit State: Planning & Financing Municipal Ultra-High-Speed Internet Fiber Networks Through Public-Private Partnerships, is now available.
You can watch it from the Connecticut Network website. The final panel has, in order of appearance, Bill Vallee, Joanne Hovis, Christopher, Monica Webb, and Jim Baller. It begins around 3:18 and Christopher begins his presentation at 3:36. The entire video is approximately 4 hours, 30 minutes.
The event included a number of experts from the industry. From the event announcement:
A conversation on the “Nuts and Bolts” of Internet Fiber Networks targeting municipal officials and other public officials to provide information for municipalities interested in creating ultra-high-speed networks. The networks would be created via public-private partnerships through Connecticut to enable innovations in areas such as health care, education, business development and jobs creation, and public safety.
On Tuesday, May 5th, Chris will speak at an open meeting to provide information on municipal fiber networks. The community is in the process of exploring the possibility of investing in infrastructure to improve local connectivity.
The city formed its task force in 2014 and are in the process of establishing a relationship with a consultant to help them move forward.
The presentation will be at the Harvard Information Center, 1350 Massachusetts Avenue in Cambridge. The event starts at 5 p.m.
On Friday, April 24th, make plans to attend the Utah and Broadband Breakfast Club Luncheon Event. If you can't make it in person, attend the webcast. The topic: Gigabit Networks in Utah.
From the announcement:
In announcing in late March that Google Fiber will expand to Salt Lake City (its eighth metropolitan area nationwide), the broadband world turned its envying eyes on Utah. With Google Fiber in Provo and now Salt Lake -- and with Gigabit Networks available in the 11 cities served by the Utah Telecommunications Open Infrastructure Agency, or UTOPIA -- Utah is poised to be the first state where a substantial portion of its residents have access to the fastest-possible broadband internet services.
What does Google's investments say about the economic health and technology-savvy nature of Utah? What do cities and citizens get from Google Fiber that they haven't gotten from traditional telecom companies? And, for cities and states seeking to get a Gig, what are the best options to build and enhance Gigabit Networks?
A panel of experts will discuss what Google and Gig networks mean to Utah and its citizens. The webcast is free and the event is $25 for Nonmembers of the Utah Breakfast Club or $15 for Members. Lunch will be served at the Utah State Capitol at 11:30 a.m. MT and the panel discussion will and webcast will start at 2 p.m. ET/Noon MT.
As a bonus, you may now obtain a free three-month trial membership to the Utah Breakfast Club.
Panelists will be:
- Devin Baer, Head of Fiber Business, Salt Lake, Google
- Paul Cutler, Mayor, City of Centerville, Utah
- Justin Jones, Vice President, Public Policy and Communications, Salt Lake Chamber
- David Shaw, Shareholder, Kirton McConkie; Chair, Government and Utilities Practice Group
- Moderated by Drew Clark, Of Counsel, Kirton McConkie; Founder, Utah Breakfast Club
Register online for the webcast or buy tickets for the live event.