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Thanks to Jeff Hoel for providing the transcript for the Episode 66 of the Community Broadband Bits podcast with Ed Stern on wireless mesh pilot program in Poulsbo, Washington. Listen to this episode here.
Ed Stern: And these networks can be owned directly by the user, the people, rather than by a central, for-profit model that lends itself to legal challenge.
Lisa Gonzalez: Hi there. This is Lisa Gonzalez from the Institute for Local Self-Reliance with a Community Broadband Bits Podcast.
This week, Chris visits with Ed Stern. Ed is a Councilman from Poulsbo, Washington, and on the Board of Directors at the Association of Washington Cities. He's also a member of the Board of Directors of the Puget Sound Regional Council. Ed's been instrumental in the development of a pilot project from the Kitsap Public Utility District to offer free wireless services in Poulsbo. The project uses a mesh network, in which local businesses and neighborhoods band together to extend the network out by linking their own networks. This model allows local people to participate in achieving better connectivity, rather than hoping and waiting for incumbents to create the necessary infrastructure for them. Like many other communities we encounter, Poulsbo has some unique geography. While its residents enjoy a high quality of life, getting to work is a challenge. The Kitsap PUD's project encourages telework in an area known for its high concentration of tech companies. Poulsbo has supported the project with local measures to assist the PUD and by jumping into the role of guinea pig. Here are Chris and Ed.
Chris Mitchell: Welcome to another episode of the Community Broadband Bits Podcast. Today, we're heading out to the West Coast. We're talking with Ed Stern, a City Council member for the city of Poulsbo, Washington. He's on the Board of Directors for the Association of Washington Cities, and he's on the Board of Directors for the Puget Sound Regional Council. Welcome to the show.
Ed Stern: Good morning, Christopher.
Thanks to Jeff Hoel for providing the transcript for Episode 89 of the Community Broadband Bits podcast with Earl Comstock on the history of the 1996 Telecommunications Act. Listen to this episode here.
Earl Comstock: The fundamental goal was to modernize the Communications Act, to recognize the fact that we were now entering an era where video, voice, and data were all going to be able to run over the same network.
Lisa Gonzalez: Hello. You are listening to the Community Broadband Bits Podcast, from the Institute for Local Self-Reliance. I'm Lisa Gonzalez.
Recently, the DC Circuit Court interpreted Section 706 of the Telecommunications Act of 1996. Section 706 is one small piece of a complex and voluminous piece of legislation. Earl Comstock, Principal at Comstock Consulting speaks with Chris this week. He's a former congressional staff member who helped craft the bill and move it through the legislative process. In addition to participating in the development of the act, Earl has had a chance to see how it has been interpreted by past administrations, the FCC, and the courts. Here are Chris and Earl.
Chris Mitchell: Welcome to another edition of the Community Broadband Bits Podcast. Today, I'm speaking with Earl Comstock, the Principal at Comstock Consulting. Welcome to the show, Earl.
Earl Comstock: Nice to be here, Chris.
Chris: So, Earl, I want to get into some of your expertise, and we're going to be talking about the 1996 Telecommunications Act. But first, I want you to explain to our audience why they should think that you know anything about the Act. And I'll introduce you by way of saying that you and first met at a Freedom to Connect event, near Washington, where I sort of thought of you as being more of a cowboy. So, what experience do you have with the '96 Act?
Thanks to Jeff Hoel for providing the transcript for Episode 65 of the Community Broadband Bits podcast with Tim Haas on broadband services in western Massachussetts. Listen to this episode here.
Tim Haas: The mantra of the Municipal Light Plant is to improve the quality of life for the community they serve. That's really the whole point.
Lisa Gonzalez: Hi there. This is Lisa Gonzalez from the Institute for Local Self-Reliance. Welcome again to the Community Broadband Bits Podcast.
This week, Chris visits Holyoke, Massachusetts, and talks with Tim Haas. Tim is a Senior Network Engineer from Holyoke Gas & Electric. HG&E has provided telecommunications services through its fiber network for over 15 years. The network began in 1997, saving public dollars, and encouraging economic development ever since. Holyoke's sense of purpose comes from heart of the community. Shareholders are citizens. Profits are measured by how the network improves the quality of life. The team that runs the network is directly accountable to the people and businesses of Holyoke. Their "mantra," as Tim described it, guides the utility in the decision-making process. Holyoke remains one of the communities others try to emulate. Here are Tim and Chris.
Chris Mitchell: Welcome to another episode of the Community Broadband Bits Podcast. Today I'm speaking with Senior Network Engineer Tim Haas, from Holyoke Gas & Electric. Welcome to the show, Tim.
Tim Haas: Thank you very much, Chris.
Chris: So, I just met you. We had lunch together with a group of other folks up there in Western Mass., when I was coming through the region, which, I was very glad to get to know people, see you face-to-face. Maybe you can start by describing that area of the country for our guests.
Thanks to Jeff Hoel for providing the transcript for Episode 132 of the Community Broadband Bits podcast with Blair Levin on ownership of next generation networks. Listen to this episode here.
Blair Levin: If you and I were on the FCC, we would vote the same way. If you and I were at the state legislature, you and I would vote the same way. But if you or I were at the city council level, we might well vote differently.
Lisa Gonzalez: Hi, again. You are listening to the Community Broadband Bits Podcast, from the Institute for Local Self-Reliance. And this is Lisa Gonzalez.
We last spoke with Blair Levin on the Community Broadband Bits Podcast in the spring of 2013. He's back again, to engage in a friendly debate with Chris on public versus private investment in broadband infrastructure. The two compare notes on the pros and cons of each approach this week, as a way to eventually achieve universal access. Blair is currently a Senior Fellow with the Brookings Institute Metropolitan Project, and is running the Gig.U project. He's also the former Executive Director of the National Broadband Plan, and was Chief of Staff to the FCC during the Clinton Administration. We certainly are lucky to have him as a guest.
Each week, the ILSR produces the Community Broadband Bits Podcast in order to share information on publicly-owned networks and related telecommunications issues. We hope you'll consider contributing to our advertisement-free efforts. Please visit ILSR.org and click on the orange "donate" button. Here are Chris and Blair.
Chris Mitchell: Welcome to another edition of the Community Broadband Bits Podcast. I'm Chris Mitchell. And today, I'm back with Blair Levin. Blair is now with the Brookings Institute Metropolitan Project, but you may also know him from his work with Gig.U, and as the Executive Director of the National Broadband Plan. Welcome to the show.
Blair Levin: Thank you very much.
Thanks to Jeff Hoel for providing the transcript for the Episode 64 of the Community Broadband Bits podcast with Dan Olsen on WindomNet's benefit fot southwest Minnesota. Listen to this episode here.
Dan Olsen: You can have broadband -- I mean true, you know, fiber-fed broadband.
Lisa Gonzalez: Hi again. This is Lisa Gonzalez from the Institute for Local Self-Reliance. Welcome to the Community Broadband Bits Podcast.
This week, Chris talks with Dan Olsen, General Manager of WindomNet in southwestern Minnesota. WindomNet has served the local community with fiber service. In addition to the town of Windom, the network serves nearby communities, creating a regional effort. Farmers, manufacturers, government, education, business, and even residents depend on the affordable fiber service. Over the years, Dan has collected numerous stories of economic development directly related to the presence of the network, and he shares those with Chris. Regardless of the stories we are about to hear from Dan, WindomNet is often viewed skeptically, and sometimes its success is questioned. In the interview, Dan and Chris touch on the concept of success for publicly-owned networks. Should munis be judged on the same criteria as Comcast, AT&T, or CenturyLink? Or is there more to success than profitability and the bottom line? Here are Chris and Dan, to talk about how WindomNet has defined its own success in rural Minnesota.
Chris Mitchell: Welcome to another episode of the Community Broadband Bits Podcast. I'm Chris Mitchell. And I'm here today with someone I've been trying to get on this show since we first launched it: Dan Olsen, General Manager of WindomNet in Windom, Minnesota, and incredibly interesting municipal network in a small community in southwestern Minnesota. Welcome to our show.
Dan Olsen: Good morning, Chris.
Thanks to Jeff Hoel for providing the transcript for the Episode 63 of the Community Broadband Bits podcast with Jim Baller on second part of the History of Municipal Networks. Listen to this episode here.
Jim Baller: It is the code of omerta within the cable industry that you don't compete with an existing system.
Lisa Gonzalez: Hi there. This is Lisa Gonzalez, from the Institute for Local Self-Reliance. Welcome again to the Community Broadband Bits Podcast. Large corporate providers enjoy lack of competition within the status quo. Unfortunately, those same providers often refuse to build in communities without the potential for large enough profits, or where they would encounter competition. What is a local community to do when existing providers see no reason to serve their community? Several weeks ago, we brought you Jim Baller, President and Senior Principal of the Baller Herbst Law Group. Baller Herbst has worked with local communities for years, as they have found ways to provide connectivity to residents, businesses, and government. During episode 57, Jim and Chris discussed some of Jim's experiences with early legal battles, as publicly-owned networks began to pop up across the country. This time, Jim and Chris continue to explore the history of publicly-owned networks. As momentum builds, and more communities consider the pros and cons, past experiences can mold future decisions. Here are Jim and Chris with more on the early days of the municipal network movement.
Chris MItchell: Welcome back to another episode of the Community Broadband Bits Podcast. This is Chris Mitchell. And once again I'm speaking with Jim Baller. Jim, welcome back to the show.
Jim Baller: Thank you, Chris. I'm happy to be here.
Thanks to Jeff Hoel for providing the transcript for Episode 61 of the Community Broadband Bits podcast with Sanjay Jolly on community radio and Internet. Listen to this episode here.
Lisa Gonzalez: Hi, and welcome again to the Community Broadband Bits Podcast, produced by the Institute for Local Self-Reliance. This is Lisa Gonzalez.
In this episode of our podcast, Christopher Mitchell introduces us to Sanjay Jolly, Policy Director for the nonprofit Prometheus Radio Project. The group advances the work of lower power radio stations across the U.S. Sanjay describes how legislative changes in the 1990s threatened the existence of local radio. Prometheus and its network led the charge to fight back and regain footing for local radio through intense grassroots efforts. Chris and Sanjay also discusses the parallels between local radio and local broadband networks. Here's Chris and Sanjay.
Chris Mitchell: Welcome to another edition of the Community Broadband Bits Podcast. Today, we're going to change it up a little bit and talk about different forms of media. We have Sanjay Jolly, the Policy Director at the Prometheus Radio Project with us today. Welcome to the show.
Sanjay Jolly: Thanks, Chris.
Chris: Can you, just briefly, tell us what Prometheus is?
Sanjay: Yeah. The Prometheus Radio Project is an organization -- we're based in Philadelphia. And we help support and build community radio stations.
Chris: And how long has Prometheus been active in these issues?
Sanjay: Prometheus has been around, oh, going on 15 years -- 1998. And before that, you know, the folks who started Prometheus were doing pirate radio out of West Philly. So they've been involved -- sort of in the struggle a long time.
Thanks to Jeff Hoel for providing the transcript for Episode 60 of the Community Broadband Bits podcast with John Bowcut on the success of Spanish Fork Community Network. Listen to this episode here.
Lisa Gonzalez: Hi, and welcome again to the Community Broadband Bits Podcast, from the Institute for Local Self-Reliance. This is Lisa Gonzalez.
In this episode of our podcast, Christopher Mitchell introduces us to John Bowcut, Director of Information Systems and Network Director of the Spanish Fork Community Network in Utah. Spanish Fork began working on its publicly-owned network in 1999, when both business and residential customers expressed their need for better telecommunications. Since then, it has saved substantial public dollars and brought more reliable and affordable connectivity to the community. Spanish Fork also uses its network to share local live and recorded events via its local station. The community programming has proved to be one of the most popular features of the Spanish Fork Community Network. Here are Chris and John, talking about the network and its place in the community.
Chris Mitchell: Welcome to another episode of the Community Broadband Bits Podcast. Today, we're talking with John Bowcut of Spanish Fork, Utah. He's the Director of Information Systems and the Spanish Fork Community Network Director. Welcome to the show.
John Bowcut: Thank you.
Chris: So, I've been in Utah -- mostly southern Utah. And I flew through Salt Lake City once. It's incredibly beautiful. I don't know how anyone gets any work there done. But perhaps you can tell us a little bit about where Spanish Fork is located and the size of the town.
John: We're about 50 miles south of Salt Lake City. And it's a nice little community. You know, it started out really as a farming community, and it's grown into a lot more than that. And so, we have about 35,000 residents. And there's about 10,000 homes in Spanish Fork.
Thanks to Jeff Hoel for providing the transcript of Episode 124 of the Community Broadband Bits podcast with Hannah Jane Sassaman on using the franchise to organize against Comcast. Listen to this episode here.
Hannah Jane Sassaman: Internet Essentials is a really important example of why letting big companies like Comcast own all of the infrastructure that lets us communicate and determine the policies that let us communicate is exactly the wrong idea for the next generation.
Lisa Gonzalez: Hello there. Welcome again to the Community Broadband Bits Podcast, from the Institute for Local Self-Reliance. This is Lisa Gonzalez.
Hannah Jane Sassaman, Policy Director for Media Mobilizing Project, joins Chris today. The project is centered in Philadelphia, where a significant amount of the population is trapped in the digital divide. As most of our listeners know, Comcast offered Internet Essentials a few years ago to sweeten their NBC merger proposition. The program was supposed to get more lower-income people online, but it has had dismal results. In this interview, Hannah describes how the Media Mobilizing Project discovered Comcast's immense political clout in Philadelphia that went far beyond exposition as a cable TV and Internet provider.
As the community discovered how the multibillion-dollar corporation was taking advantage of them, animosity grew, and they decided it was time to hold Comcast's feet to the fire. Philadelphia's franchise agreement with Comcast is coming to an end, and the Media Mobilizing Project saw this is an opportunity to demand Comcast finally pay its fair share. They have begun a grassroots movement to pressure local officials to require any new agreement to include more affordable services for local citizens, a requirement that Comcast pay its fair share in taxes, and that Comcast employees should receive the benefits they deserve. The Media Mobilizing Project provides more detail on the platform at its website capcomcast.org. Here are Hannah Jane Sassaman and Chris, discussing efforts to tell Comcast to support its home town.
Thanks to Jeff Hoel for providing the transcript for Episode 119 of the Community Broadband Bits podcast with Senator Schmit, Representative Simonson, and Danna Mackenzie on State of Minnesota's Border to Border Broadband Fund. Listen to this episode here.
Danna Mackenzie: What we wanted to do was figure out what is the appropriate and right role for a state to enter into this conversation, and to incent the construction and build into areas of the state where it's currently -- no other incentives have worked to date.
Lisa Gonzalez: Hi, and welcome once again to the Community Broadband Bits Podcast, from the Institute for Local Self-Reliance. This is Lisa Gonzalez.
During the last legislative session, lawmakers in the state of Minnesota appropriated $20 million to a grant program to encourage the deployment of broadband infrastructure. The state is now taking applications for that program until October 28th. As part of the measure, the legislature also created the State Office of Broadband Development. In this podcast, Chris visits with two of the lawmakers that were instrumental in passing the measure, Senator Matt Schmit and Representative Erik Simonson. He also visits with Danna Mackenzie, the Executive Director for the State Office of Broadband Development.
In order to get the initiative adopted, it was important to show need, desire, and support for the appropriation. Senator Schmit and Representative Simonson, both from greater Minnesota, explained how they reached out to Minnesota communities, how they took public opinion back to their colleagues, and what they hoped they can accomplish with this modest state investment. In order to learn more about the grant program, Danna helps explain the details about eligible applicants, expectations for its distribution, and some of the requirements for funded projects. When crafting the requirements for the program, the authors wisely chose to include specs that ensure a long-term solution. Here's Chris, visiting with Senator Schmit, Representative Simonson, and, last of all, Danna Mackenzie.