Charter Spectrum

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Destination Crenshaw Breathes Life Into 'Open Air Museum' and Emerging ‘Digital Equity Zone’

On a map, the Crenshaw District is a 2.9 square-mile neighborhood in South Central Los Angeles, home to nearly 30,000 mostly black residents.

In the popular imagination, Crenshaw is the backdrop for the Oscar-nominated movie "Boyz In the Hood" – the real life neighborhood that cultivated the likes of former Los Angeles Mayor Thomas Bradley; rappers-turned-actors Ice Cube and Ice T; and the late rapper/entrepreneur Nipsey Hussle.

But on the streets of Crenshaw, a transformative vision is unfolding – an initiative local leaders describe as “a reparative development project.”

The idea is to inspire and empower neighborhood residents with strategic investments rather than displace them through gentrification. The effort is being led by Destination Crenshaw, a nonprofit community organization established in 2017 to celebrate the history and culture of Black Los Angeles.

The most visible part of the vision is to create the largest Black public art project in the nation along Crenshaw Boulevard, the 1.3 mile spine of the neighborhood – or what Destination Crenshaw describes as an “open air museum” centered around “pocket parks” and a “comprehensive streetscape design” that will feature commissioned murals and sculptures from local Black artists.

Yellow Springs, Ohio Eyes Next Steps After Successful Fiber Trial

Yellow Springs, Ohio has been thinking about a city-owned fiber network since 2016, when the municipality issued its first white paper discussing its potential benefits.

Since then, the city has made steady inroads on making those plans a reality, recently culminating in a fiber pilot project currently being used by 100 local homes and businesses.

Launched in 2022, the pilot project currently offers locals two tiers of fiber access: A “standard tier” at a symmetrical 300 megabits per second (Mbps) for $45 a month, and a “premium” tier offering symmetrical gig speed service for $65 a month. There currently are no usage caps, long-term contracts, or installation fees.

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Downtown Yellow Springs

“Final pricing will be determined after the pilot project, and could be higher or lower depending on the ‘take rate,’ customer service offerings, and other knowledge gained from the pilot,” the project FAQ states.

Currently the fiber network covers roughly 600 potential homes around Yellow Springs, and was funded entirely via a $300,000 grant from Broadband Ohio. The city also provides free Wi-Fi via 12 Wi-Fi access points spread throughout the city’s downtown business district.

Like so many U.S. communities, Yellow Springs sees a dearth of meaningful broadband competition, resulting in spotty access, high prices, and substandard service.

Charter Communications (Spectrum) enjoys a monopoly over next-gen broadband access across the majority of the city. Some areas are peppered with sluggish and expensive AT&T DSL.

Schoharie County, NY Eyes New Fiber Network On Back Of $30 Million Grant

Schoharie County, New York officials have applied for a $30 million New York State ConnectALL grant with the hopes of eventually building a $33 million, county-wide fiber network.

The shape and scope of the network has yet to be determined, but the county hopes to build a network that brings affordable access to the rural, agriculture-heavy county.

“Schoharie County applied for the grant under the NYS MIP program on April 19th, in an attempt to bring high speed broadband access to every premise in the county,” Deputy County Administrator Jim Halios told ILSR.

Notoriously over-optimistic FCC data currently states that Schoharie County enjoys 92 percent broadband coverage county-wide. In reality, broadband access in the county is largely dominated by a monopoly enjoyed by Charter Spectrum, which was nearly kicked out of the state entirely in 2019 for misleading regulators and failing to evenly deploy access.

Anti Muni Broadband Budget Amendment Gets Nixed in New York

Advocates for better Internet access are breathing a sigh of relief in New York as the State Assembly passed a budget bill yesterday that did not include an amendment that would have undermined the state’s municipal broadband grant program.

As we reported last month, buried in language near the bottom of the Assembly budget proposal was a Trojan horse legislative sources said was being pushed by lobbyists representing Charter Spectrum.

The amendment, which did not survive the budget reconciliation process, proposed to limit Municipal Infrastructure Program grants to projects that targeted “unserved and underserved locations only” – a restriction that would have made municipal broadband projects in the state less likely to become financially viable.

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New York State Capitol Empire State Plaza

Created as part of New York’s billion dollar ConnectALL Initiative, the MIP is specifically designed to support municipal broadband projects. Such projects are routinely targeted by lobbyists for the big monopoly providers intent on preventing any competition to their often spotty, high-cost service offerings.

Chicopee Massachusetts Takes ‘Fiberhood’ Approach To City Fiber Rollout

The city-owned utility in Chicopee, Massachusetts has adopted the “fiberhood” approach to broadband deployment as it expands affordable access to city residents under the Crossroads Fiber brand.

Frustrated by a lack of affordable broadband access, the city tabbed Magellan Advisors in 2015 to conduct a feasibility study into city-provided broadband access. After a survey showed a majority of city residents would support such an initiative, Chicopee Electric Light launched Crossroads Fiber in the summer of 2019 in a small pilot area.

Since then, the utility has been expanding access steadily to the rest of the city – joining a growing roster of city-owned utilities that are responding to broadband market failure by taking matters into their own hands.

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Chicopee MA downtown

Planners have broken down the city into 144 different fiberhoods, where user interest gleaned from the project website dictates which parts of the city see deployment priority. It’s an approach some communities adopt to finance network construction without having to rely on tax revenues or loans. For Chicopee the estimated cost to build a fiber network that reaches all 55,000 residents is between $30 and $35 million.

Selma, 17 Other Alabama Communities Will See Construction of $230 Million Open Access Fiber Network

Selma, Alabama – and parts of 16 other communities in eight different counties – will soon be connected to a new, $230 million open access fiber network that aims to bring affordable broadband to historically marginalized sections of the Yellowhammer State.

The deployment comes courtesy of a public private partnership (PPP) the city has struck with Meridiam Infrastructure and Meridiam-owned YellowHammer IT, an agreement that will expand fiber access across Alabama’s Black Belt region on the back of a $5.1 million Capital Projects Fund (CPF) grant.

At a March 2 press conference, Selma Mayor James Perkins Jr. said the partnership with Meridiam and Yellowhammer should result in fiber access being deployed to 85 percent of city homes and businesses, regardless of residents’ income levels, with $45 million of the $230 million investment dedicated to bring fiber service to Selma, the “Queen City of the Black Belt.

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Selma Mayor James Perkins Jr.

“High-speed reliable broadband is no longer nice to have. Today, it’s as important as gas, water, and electricity,” Perkins stated at the event. “In our increasingly digital society, cities without access to fiber broadband risk falling behind. It’s critical that the City of Selma makes fiber broadband accessible citywide by building utility-like infrastructure that serves our residents’ needs today and for generations to come.”

Trojan Horse To Cripple Muni Broadband in New York Slipped Into State Assembly Budget Proposal

Language added to a New York State budget bill is threatening to undermine a municipal broadband grant program established by Gov. Kathy Hochul’s office earlier this year.

Known as the Municipal Infrastructure Program, it was designed to provide grant funding for municipalities in the state eager to build publicly-owned, locally controlled broadband infrastructure as a way to ensure ubiquitous, affordable access to high-quality Internet after decades of frustration with expensive, spotty and uneven service from the regional monopolies.

Currently, New York state lawmakers are in the midst of budget proposal season in which the Governor’s office and both legislative chambers (the state Senate and Assembly) have until April 1 to reconcile and complete a final budget for the upcoming fiscal year.

Buried near the bottom of the Assembly budget proposal (A8805B) is a Trojan horse legislative sources say is being pushed by lobbyists representing Charter Spectrum, the regional cable monopoly and 2nd largest cable company in the U.S. that was nearly kicked out of New York by state officials in 2018 for atrocious service.

One Year After Launch, Dryden, NY Muni Network Making Steady Progress

One year after launching a municipal fiber network, Dryden, NY officials say they’re making steady progress in their quest to expand affordable fiber broadband to the entire town of 14,500.

While the effort hasn’t been without obstacles, town leaders say the public response to their foray into broadband has been overwhelmingly positive.

“While there are challenges, we are continuing to make great progress in the buildout,” Dryden Town Supervisor Jason Leifer tells ILSR. “We have support from our residents, who continue to show interest in this project. We also have financial support from Tompkins County in the form of grants–and from neighboring municipalities who are interested in replicating our model.”

The city’s network began with a 50-home trial pilot trial in the southwest part of town. The broader $15 million network will be funded by a combination of bonds, $2 million in federal COVID-19 disaster relief funding, an Appalachian Regional Commission grant, and eventually, subscriber revenues.

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Dryden Fiber map

The town took a phased approach to deployment, first by connecting the backbone of the network in the southeast of the city, followed by a focus on the western and eastern halves of the municipality, respectively. The Dryden fiber website features a build map that helps locals track network progress.

“We have currently passed over 420 addresses with our buildout,” freshly-appointed Dryden Fiber Executive Director David Makar tells ISLR. “This includes over 150 rental properties – mostly single family homes and apartments – as well as many owner occupied homes and businesses. We are still in phase one, and as we move into the village of Dryden and the hamlets of Varna, Ellis Hollow, and Etna, we will be in phase two.”

Cullman Electric Cooperative Launches Next Phase Of Fiber Expansion

Cullman, Alabama-based Cullman Electric Cooperative says it is launching a new phase of fiber deployment after receiving a $7 million grant to bring affordable fiber access to long-neglected Cullman and Winston counties.

The financing was made possible by the Alabama Broadband Accessibility Fund (ABAF), funded by the 2021 American Rescue Plan Act (ARPA). The state has already dedicated more than $82 million in funding for Alabama broadband deployments, bringing broadband access to 72,000 currently unserved residents.

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Cullman Sprout Fiber Internet logo

Cullman’s $7 million portion will bring affordable fiber access to 1,300 families. Known as Sprout Fiber Internet, Cullman currently offers residential customers symmetrical 300 Mbps (megabit per second) service for $60 a month; symmetrical 1 Gbps (gigabit per second) service for $80 a month, and symmetrical 2 Gbps service for $120 a month.

That’s significantly faster and cheaper service than is currently offered by any of the dominant private telecom monopolies in Cullman (predominantly AT&T or Charter/Spectrum), without usage caps, hidden fees, or long-term contracts.

Fort Worth Strikes Public Private Partnership To Set Table for Citywide Fiber Network

Fort Worth, Texas, (est pop. 956,000) has struck a $7.5 million, 34-year contract with Dallas-based Sprocket Networks to construct a new 300-mile fiber optic backbone to shore up city municipal communications needs, expand affordable access to marginalized neighborhoods, and boost local economic development.

City officials say construction crews are expected to begin work sometime in the next three to six months, with the full network construction expected to cost $65 million and take three years to complete.

Services will first be made available to nine target neighborhoods (including Las Vegas Trail, Como, Marine Creek, Stop Six, Rosemont and Ash Crescent) on a rolling basis. Sprocket Networks will own the finished fiber network.  

“This partnership was entered into with Sprocket with the hopes of eventually getting to universal service in Fort Worth,” Fort Worth IT Solutions director Kevin Gunn told ILSR in a phone interview. “We want the gold standard fiber optic connectivity: 100 megabits symmetric and up available at every doorstep, whether that's a senior family, multifamily or commercial.”

Gunn told ILSR that the city’s initial payment of $7.5 million to Sprocket consists of $4.5 million in American Rescue Plan Act (ARPA) funds, and $3 million from the North Central Texas Council Of Governments, which has allocated some of its transportation budget to broadband improvements the agency will benefit from.

In response to COVID era broadband inequities, the city of Fort Worth last year expanded free Wi-Fi access to 40,000 largely underserved city residents. Gunn indicated that those connections will be slowly phased out as the city transitions to fiber.