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Transcript: Community Broadband Bits Episode 49

Thanks to Jeff Hoel for providing the transcript for the episode 49 of the Community Broadband [no-glossary]Bit[/no-glossary]s podcast with Sarah Morris and Ana Montes on the Federal Lifeline Program. Listen to this episode here.



Lisa Gonzalez:  Welcome again to the Community Broadband Bits Podcast, from the Institute for Local Self-Reliance.  This is Lisa Gonzalez.

This week, Chris Mitchell looked into the Lifeline program.  The program offers credit toward landline and wireless phone service for those who would not be able to afford it otherwise.  The Lifeline program has come into harsh scrutiny from elected officials.  Members of Congress have repeatedly called for more restrictions on enrollees, alleging fraud, waste, and abuse.  Their media assault portrays participants as young women with purses full of phones.  We wanted to know more about the Lifeline program.

Chris first touched base with Sarah Morris, Policy Counsel for the Open Technology Institute at New America Foundation, and she provided some background, and talked about qualifications for eligibility.

Then Chris spoke with Ana Montes, the Organizing Director for TURN, The Utility Reform Network.  Ana works directly with consumers, and sees the impact of the program in the trenches.

Here are Chris, Sarah, and Ana.


Chris Mitchell:  So, Sarah Morris, what are the qualifications for the Lifeline program?


Sarah Morris: So, the baseline criteria, as of 2012, is that consumers are required -- consumers who want to use the program are required to have either a household income at or below 135 percent of the federal poverty guidelines, or they have to participate in at least one of a number of federal assistance programs.  These included things like Medicaid, the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program, among many others.


Chris:  So, I can't just wander down the street and find an area to sign up and just sign up, willy-nilly.


Transcript: Community Broadband Bits Episode 26

Thank to Jeff Hoel for providing the transcript for the episode 26 of the Community Broadband [no-glossary]Bit[/no-glossary]s podcast with Josh Wallace on the municipal utility dark fiber business in the city of Palo Alto, California. Listen to this episode here.


Lisa Gonzales:  Hello, and welcome to the Community Broadband Bits podcast, brought to you by the Institute for Local Self-Reliance.  This is Lisa Gonzales.

In our 26th episode, we talk to Josh Wallace.  He works for Fiber Optics Business Development for the city of Palo Alto, California.  Josh and Christopher discuss the community's extensive fiber network, and how the city uses dark fiber to offer reliable, high-capacity infrastructure to local businesses.

Josh and Chris review how the city became involved in the business of dark fiber, and Josh describes the resulting commercial relationships, and the process.

Here are Chris and Josh.


Chris Mitchell:  Josh Wallace, thank you for coming on Community Broadband Bits.


Josh Wallace:  Thank you very much.  I appreciate your inviting me, Chris.


Chris:  So I've known a little bit about Palo Alto.  I know that you have a dark fiber network.  I've worked with -- or, I've talked with some people from Palo Alto previously, as you've considered making other investments.  But let's start at the very beginning and get a sense of why -- how you came to have a dark fiber network.


Josh:  Well, in the late '90s, there was a question about whether or not we would be able to renew some of our electric contracts in an optimal way we had originally had in the late '50s.  So the big search for revenue.  And it was thought that maybe we would have to shore up some revenue from some renewed contracts that might not be quite as good as we hoped.

So, you know, we looked around, and we realized that at the same time that we could connect all of our SCADA system -- our electric network control system -- with fiber optics, we could actually jump into the fiber optics business.