CLIC heartily congratulates Matthew Rantanen, Director of Technology at the Southern California Tribal Chairmen’s Association, and CLIC Board Advisor, for being selected as a winner of the Internet2’s 2020 Rose-Werle award. Matt is known as the Cyber warrior for Tribal broadband.
In receiving this award, Matt was recognized for his leadership in extending high-speed broadband services and advanced technology to community anchor institutions on tribal lands. Under his leadership, the Tribal Digital Village Net has resulted in more than 650 miles of internet connections to 105 key tribal community and administration buildings, EPA departments, fire stations, law enforcement facilities, utility departments, libraries, schools, Head Start programs, and tribal homes. Matt also recently facilitated the connection of 14 Native American tribes in Southern California to the state-of-the-art research and education international Internet exchange, Pacific Wave, via CENIC. This new connection enables their tribal libraries, scientific research facilities, and cultural preservation institutions to collaborate with partners around the world.
The Rose-Werle Award is
named in honor of Richard Rose (1947-2007) and James Werle (1971-2018), early leaders
in the national Internet2 K20 Initiative, now part of the Internet2 Community Anchor Program (CAP), who tirelessly advocated for extending the Internet2
Network and advanced technologies to students, libraries and community
institutions. The Award is given annually based on criteria such as commitment
to the vision of the Internet2 Community Anchor Program, recognized innovation
in the community, and leadership and mentoring qualities.
This, I believe, is our broadband moment: a hinge of history that will
determine whether today’s residential broadband is fit for the changed world in
which we inhabit or whether its limits work to disadvantage those that are not
equipped to use it.
For the good of all, each of us has been asked to stay at home as much
as possible. Broadband makes that bearable, connecting us to entertainment, to
family, to friends. Broadband also makes it possible for us, if we are lucky,
to continue to work and to learn. Most importantly, it connects us to health
services and vital information so we can stay safe in what feels like a very
But what about the millions of Americans for whom broadband does not
And what about those for whom broadband may not be affordable like
newly-unemployed workers, low-income students, and at-risk seniors?
And, of course, as we emerge into a changed world, what about our
ability to re-start the economy and reduce unemployment without setting off yet
We are facing a digital chasm that will emerge if we do not act and the
cluster of digital divides gets larger, longer-lasting, and harder to close.
The challenges are diverse – from connecting rural homes to providing
affordable service for low-income families, from people (of any age) seeking to
gain skills to enter the workforce to patients relying on telehealth, to
students receiving online instruction.
This is the time to invest in, plan for, and engineer High-Performance
Broadband for every person in America.
Three enduring principles should guide us:
1. Everyone in America should be able to use High-Performance Broadband by the end of the decade.
2. To do that requires a multifaceted and comprehensive broadband agenda.
3. State and local leadership are critical.
As Congress considers how best to recover from the COVID-19 pandemic
and jumpstart our economy, the multifaceted broadband agenda must address, I believe, four key areas: deployment, competition, affordability & adoption,
and community anchor institutions. (I hit the highlights here. More detail will follow in subsequent articles.)
To encourage broadband deployment that
finally reaches everyone, Congress should:
Fund the buildout of High-Performance Broadband (think 100/100 Mbps networks fit for the future) to all of America. Estimates are that this will cost $60-$100 billion.
Enlist the U.S. Department of Agriculture to help rural areas that lack broadband service today to formulate their own broadband plans.
To ensure communities reap the benefits of competition, Congress should:
competitive entrants, for example, rural electric cooperatives and
broadband providers accessing open-access middle-mile networks. Institute
public-policy that empowers competition in multi-tenant facilities.
Pre-empt states laws
that hinder the ability of municipalities to experiment with their own
Broadband networks become more valuable as more people use them, as the
recent health crisis proves. To make broadband service affordable and encourage adoption, Congress should:
For the first time, establish a targeted subsidy for fixed-broadband subscriptions, aimed at connecting low-income households and the newly-unemployed.
Fund job-related, digital skills training, with emphasis on middle-skills jobs and other jobs that will be key to our recovery.
Finally, our community anchor
institutions play a special role in ensuring everyone has
access to broadband. Recognizing this, Congress should:
Facilitate, at separate
expense, buildout of broadband networks linked to community anchor
anchor institutions to use their spare broadband capacity for communities.
The sooner we start to build a comprehensive broadband agenda the
sooner we will reap the benefits of building broadband networks.
Because, after this crisis, life will be changed. Already, 74% of
businesses plan to permanently shift to more remote work post-COVID-19. We must make sure we all can make that, and similar shifts, as well.
Let us be up to our moment, our broadband moment.
*Jonathan Sallet is a Benton Senior Fellow. He works to promote broadband access and deployment, to advance competition, including through antitrust, and to preserve and protect internet openness. He is the former-Federal Communications Commission General Counsel (2013-2016), and Deputy Assistant Attorney General for Litigation, Antitrust Division, US Department of Justice (2016-2017)
As the nation continues to ride out a pandemic that will persist for months, the need is acute for fast and inexpensive broadband rollout. Many communities have thrown up their hands because there are no LTE hotspots to be found on the market (the supply delay is many months at this point) and because network construction seems like it could take years.
But it’s important to know that you have options to deploy new facilities – options that can be exercised in days or weeks, not years. Earlier, we shared some ideas for using fiber, mmWave, and Wi-Fi to get services to the unserved. Today, we’d like to share more detail for how you can connect 1,000 or more households in a town or city for less than $500,000, possibly considerably less.
These rapid deployments would be engineered to provide broadband speeds (at least 25 Mbps download/3 Mbps upload) using backbone fiber, point-to-point wireless, and Wi-Fi solutions.
Every building or development will require custom analysis and design, but here we generalize for three development scenarios: small multi-family buildings, closely spaced single-family homes, and large apartment buildings.
Scenario 1: Free connectivity to small multi-family buildings
Let’s say you wanted to serve a collection of buildings of around two to four floors each. Each floor has four to six units and a shared hallway or other central area, which could be either outdoor (as will be typical in the South) or indoor.
We’ll assume that a lead stakeholder (perhaps the city or county, a local university, or a utility) has fiber to a location within a half-mile of this development. We’ll also assume that the lead stakeholder will take responsibility for installation, maintenance, and operations. And we’ll assume that the service will be delivered for free – so as to remove all barriers to use – thus also keeping operating costs low by eliminating the need for marketing, billing, and other back-office tasks.
The new facilities would include mmWave wireless equipment to bring bandwidth from the fibered location to the buildings to be served, as well as Wi-Fi access points on each floor, one for every four units, installed in the hallways so as not to require installers to enter private homes.
Our budgetary cost estimate for equipment and deployment (including installation labor but not including operating costs) is $500 to $750 per household, though the number could be considerably lower depending on where the fiber is located and the costs of labor locally.
Scenario 2: Free connectivity to single-family homes in a neighborhood
In a scenario where the residences are detached single-family homes, we will assume there is fiber and bandwidth available within one mile of central or “anchor” locations in the neighborhood. These central locations will, in turn, need clear lines of sight to the homes.
We further assume that each home is 300 feet to one mile (depending on the obstructions between the antenna on the building and the end user home) of the central anchor locations. If the home is more distant from the anchor, a community mast will need to be erected, increasing costs.
As before, we assume the municipality or other stakeholder is willing to do installation, maintenance, and operations and that the service will be delivered for free.
Here the network will consist of mmWave wireless equipment to bring bandwidth from the fibered building rooftop to the rooftops of the central anchor sites, at which, in turn, the bandwidth is distributed to Wi-Fi access points at each home.
A conservative budgetary cost estimate for equipment and deployment (including installation labor but not including operating costs) would be $500 to $1,000 per household – again with the potential for significant savings depending on local considerations.
Scenario 3: Free connectivity to larger multi-family buildings in an urban area
This scenario involves a large apartment building such as a high-rise public housing site. As before, we assume there is fiber and bandwidth available from a point-of-presence to a building within a half mile of the locations to be connected or, even better, to the building itself.
We also assume each building to be served is high-rise and that the rooftop is available and accessible to place mmWave equipment. As before, we assume the municipality or other stakeholder is willing to do installation, maintenance, and operations; and that the service will be delivered free.
In this case the network will start with a point-to-point wireless solution using mmWave equipment to bring bandwidth from the fibered building to the rooftop of the building to be served. From there, cabling from the mmWave radio on the roof will reach a switch in a secure closet in the building.
From there, bandwidth can be distributed within the building in one of two ways. The first uses existing wiring to each unit (which requires installation in each unit). The second uses Wi-Fi access points on each floor, one for every four units, installed in the hallways so as not to require installers to enter the residences.
The budgetary cost estimate for equipment and deployment (including installation labor but not including operating costs) would be $500 to $750 per household, with significant savings possible if the fiber directly reaches the building or based on other factors.
Benjamin J. Fineman, President, Michigan Broadband Cooperative
In a recent article from the Mackinac Center for Public Policy, titled “Bill Would Let Townships Impose Property Tax Hikes for Broadband Projects, author Dawson Bell reiterates incorrect talking points about House Bill 5673 that are designed to undermine the need for municipal broadband, all the while failing to mention that this bill is designed to enable public-private partnerships in rural areas through special assessments. The areas where broadband special assessments would be useful have a low population density such that incumbent providers will not build due to low returns on investment. Special assessments would enable residents to finance broadband infrastructure themselves, and partner with a private service provider to operate the network. This is not anti-competitive with private service providers. On the contrary, it enables them to provide service in areas where doing so was previously infeasible due to their return on investment requirements.
In his article, Mr. Bell
states: “A Washtenaw County lawmaker is renewing efforts to authorize
local tax hikes to finance government-owned high-speed internet infrastructure
projects, despite concerns that they may saddle taxpayers with losses.”
In reality, the special
assessment mechanism has very little risk of any “losses,” since funding of the
infrastructure is not dependent upon revenue. The author is confusing this
financing mechanism with revenue bonds, internal loans, and other vehicles that
require a certain take rate for the project to be solvent. The use of the
terminology “government-owned infrastructure” is intentional to evoke negative
reactions, as opposed to “municipal infrastructure”.
The article continues: “Theodore
Bolema, director of the Institute for the Study of Economic Growth at Wichita
State University, said that local governments can either use their regulatory
powers to favor their own projects or rework regulations to help private
companies. ‘Governments have no sustainable advantage in offering broadband, as
compared to private companies that bring far more experience from other
communities where they operate,’ said Bolema, who is a member of the Mackinac
Center for Public Policy’s Board of Scholars. ‘So the only way governments can
compete is by giving themselves regulatory advantages or by arranging for
taxpayer subsidies for their operations. Instead of building government-run
systems that drive off private alternatives, local governments could help
private companies obtain regulatory approvals and access to rights-of-way.’”
In reality, the main barrier to broadband deployment in rural areas is not government regulation but simple economics. Rural areas with low population densities cannot provide fast enough returns on investment to satisfy the requirements of for-profit companies. Local governments, such as townships, have little to no control over any regulations that would have any effect on broadband deployment costs. The assertion that local governments would “favor their own projects” implies a competitive scenario that does not exist in rural areas, and ignores the fact that the local governments in these rural areas want to partner with private companies to provide broadband, not compete with them.
The author continues: “Publicly
funded broadband initiatives have a poor record of success. A 2017 study
conducted at the University of Pennsylvania found that only 2 of 20 such
projects reviewed nationally earned enough to cover the projected costs over the
life of the network.”
In truth, this 2017
study has been widely debunked by industry experts (see here,
and here). The
study has been criticized for using limited and cherry-picked data,
erroneous assumptions, and flawed methodology to support pre-conceived
conclusions. As one example, the study claims that the municipal network in
Chattanooga, TN would take 412 years to “turn positive”. In reality, since the
publication of this study, the Chattanooga fiber utility has already paid off
its entire debt and extra revenue from the fiber service helps to keep electric
Such assertions also
conveniently ignore the significant community benefit of such projects, which
is the entire reason that municipalities undertake them, as opposed to the
profit motive of private companies. For example, a
2018 Harvard study found that in
Chattanooga residents could subscribe to Comcast’s service and receive 25 Mbps
download / 3 Mbps upload for $66.95/month, or they could subscribe to the
municipal service and receive 100 Mbps download / 100 Mbps upload for
$57.99/month. Residents now have access to a municipal service more than four
times faster than the private option, all while saving more than $100/year.
This same scenario plays out in the overwhelming majority of municipal fiber
Bell then falsely asserts:
“This poor record is probably due to the same local market realities that
cause officials to perceive a need for taxpayer funding in the first place.
Specifically, less-densely populated communities might not have enough
potential subscribers to justify the cost of installing high-speed fiber
networks. If there were, private internet service providers would install
Beyond this false assertion
that municipal networks have a “poor record”, Mr. Bell stumbles upon the exact
reason why municipal financing, such as special assessment districts, is a
helpful tool: private service providers motivated by profits will never make
the capital investments to build broadband in these areas.
Bell continues: “According
to the U.S. Census Bureau, nearly 9 of 10 Washtenaw County residents (88.6%)
subscribed to high-speed internet in 2017. But local elected officials there
have persistently sought to expand that number in the county’s rural areas. The
county commission has an active group called a ‘broadband equity subcommittee’
that seeks government-led solutions to a perceived deficit of broadband options
in rural areas.”
The implication from Mr.
Bell’s language is that this “perceived” deficit is not a real problem. Even
using the U.S. Census Bureau statistic cited, this would mean that 41,909
residents in Washtenaw County do not have access to broadband. It’s not clear
why the author implies that it is not important for these residents to have
access to broadband.
Mr. Bell then attempts
to criticize a township which has taken proactive steps to deploy its own
modern broadband infrastructure: “In 2017, voters in Lyndon Township, a
rural outpost north of Chelsea, approved $7 million in bonded debt to finance
universal local broadband access. The average taxpayer in the township has been
paying $22 per month for the system since 2018. Both users of the service and
those who do not use it are responsible for this amount. According to the
Lyndon broadband committee, by 2020, about 850 households have signed up for
the service (at an additional cost of $35-$70/month). Construction of the
network is scheduled to be completed later this year, a forecast clouded by
uncertainties related to work stoppages caused by the COVID-19 coronavirus
What Mr. Bells fails to
mention is that Lyndon Township residents will have access to 1 Gbps symmetric
broadband service for $70/month (or lower speeds for lower costs) where
previously most had access to nothing. Even when including the average millage
cost, gigabit broadband service for $92/month compares favorably to Comcast’s
gigabit service available in the neighboring City of Chelsea for $113/month. Also,
Comcast’s service is not symmetric, and includes only 35 Mbps upload speed as
opposed to Lyndon’s 1,000 Mbps upload speed. Comcast’s service has a 1 TB data
cap, while Lyndon’s service is uncapped. Again, this comparison is illustrative
only since almost no Lyndon Township residents had access to Comcast or any other
The article then attempts to persuade with herd mentality: “In 2018, voters in Sharon Township, also in Washtenaw County, resoundingly rejected a similar broadband property tax proposal of $4.9 million from a levy of 3.25 mills over 20 years. Lasinski said she believes the negative vote in Sharon Township was a consequence of many voters, who already had broadband service, rejecting the idea of subsidizing a broadband build out for their neighbors. Creating a special assessment district, in which only those within the prospective service area are required to pay for it, would obviate that concern, she said.”
What the article should have mentioned is that the main reason for the broadband defeat in Sharon Township was due to the political influence and disinformation campaign of a few large property owners, but it is correct that special assessment districts would be very helpful for townships that have significant areas with existing service, and is a good reason why this bill should be supported.
In conclusion, this article reiterates industry talking points that are not grounded in fact and fail to mention the value of using special assessments to increase broadband access. Special assessments would enable residents to finance broadband infrastructure themselves, and partner with a private service provider to operate the network. This is not anti-competitive behavior. On the contrary, it enables local communities and private service providers to provide service in areas where doing so was previously not feasible due to the private sector’s return on investment requirements. Now more than ever it is critical to enable more tools for broadband financing rather than artificially limit communities’ choices on working locally to close the broadband gap.
Ben Fineman is an advanced networking professional and community broadband advocate. Some years ago, Ben realized that many people in the U.S. do not have access to internet connections that allows them to participate in the most basic of online activities, let alone emerging technologies. This led Ben to co-found the Michigan Broadband Cooperative, where he volunteers as President and leads the organization toward the mission of achieving ubiquitous broadband in Michigan. Ben was also a key member of the team that led Lyndon Township through a community initiative that took this rural township from the limited choices of spotty DSL, cellular, and satellite services to in a township-wide municipal fiber network offering symmetric gigabit service. Since then Ben has served on county and state broadband task forces. He can be reached at: firstname.lastname@example.org. More on the Michigan Broadband Cooperative can be found at:http://www.mbcoop.org
by Jonathan Sallet, Senior Fellow, Benton Institute for Broadband & Society
I was General Counsel of the Federal Communications
Commission when it sought the preemption of state laws in Tennessee and North Carolina
that limited the ability of municipalities to promote broadband. We failed in
that effort, but the case laid out the key facts.
The FCC found that the provision of municipal broadband in
Chattanooga, Tennessee, led to lower rates, increased investment, and improved
service from an incumbent broadband provider.
Similarly, in Wilson, North Carolina, when faced with a municipal
broadband entrant, an incumbent cable company held rates flat even as it raised
rates in nearby geographic areas by up to 40 percent for comparable offerings.
By the FCC’s calculation, new competition saved Wilson’s approximately 50,000
residents more than $1 million per year.
This is a familiar story, known to the members of CLIC but not given sufficient attention generally. The Benton Institute’s “Broadband for America’s Future: A Vision for the 2020s” calls for an ambitious goal. That every person in America have the ability to use High-Performance Broadband by the end of this decade. To achieve that goal requires success in each of four building blocks: more deployment, greater competition, emphasis on affordability and adoption, and empowerment of community institutions.
The competition story needs to be told: We can expect people
with only one choice to pay monopoly prices, and people with only two choices
to pay the higher prices typically charged by duopolies. People with three or
more choices typically pay less. Clearly, people who can barely afford to pay a
competitive price, say, low-income Americans, are particularly vulnerable to
artificially high prices.
In fact, new FCC data (which we all know systematically
overstates the presence of fixed broadband competition) shows that, at the
typical speed of 100/10 Mbps, 80% of Americans have either no choices in
broadband providers (monopoly) or only two choices (duopoly). That’s very
Local communities should have the freedom to help their
people fully participate in a broadband world: learning, getting jobs, obtaining
healthcare online. This is not to say that one-size fits all; there are many
variations of public-private broadband partnerships. It is to say that empowering
local leadership and action is imperative.
Here’s a recent example: Alexandria, Virginia, has only one high-speed, fixed-broadband provider. As Alexandria Mayor Justin Wilson explains, lack of competition leads, he believes, to an inferior product. Moreover, small-business owners say that lack of broadband competition limits investment and makes Alexandria a less attractive location for businesses. One small-business owner, whose business requires the transfer of large data files, told Mayor Wilson that he sends his employees who live in other places home to send and receive files where their broadband is better than it is at work.
After confirming that the local telecommunications company
would not be expanding its fiber footprint, this past November, the City of
Alexandria issued an invitation to bid for the construction of a municipal
The idea is to build a fiber backbone that brings broadband
to community anchor institutions – including public safety, schools, and
libraries – but that will also lease capacity to private companies wanting to
serve residential and small-business customers. That’s an important strategy
because the network is, in effect, dual-use: providing immediate value for
community institutions and longer-term possibilities for residential service.
As Mayor Wilson explains, just serving the government buildings
with municipal fiber makes financial sense; the ability to serve residential
and small-business customers is a bonus.
Academic research tells us that more broadband competition
matters: pushing rivals to up their game, saving money for consumers,
increasing the quality of service.
The actions of so many other CLIC members and communities gives voice to the need to promote competition.
We’ve learned a lot from talking with CLIC and local communities. But we’re eager to gain new insights and I would appreciate hearing from communities (you can reach us at email@example.com) who have learned how to improve the broadband choices of their people. This is a story that must be told and it is rightly told emphatically by community leaders who understand their communities and the importance of broadband to their communities. And the Benton Institute will do our best to help tell that story as well.
This guest blog is co-published with the Benton Institute for Broadband and Society
We will be devoting three hours to a focused discussion
on actual partnership solutions between local communities and private partners
to solve our local broadband needs. Session 1: Models for Successful
Public-Private and Public-Public Partnerships will feature CEOs, business
development managers and innovation officers from Point Broadband, FACEBOOK,
Lexington, Kentucky. Session 2: Identifying and Selecting your Partner, includes
recognized private partners such as TING and Google Fiber.
And Session 3: Broadband P3s and Federal and State Incentives: A Force
Multiplier draws on federal
broadband experts, and state grant experts from Maryland and Virginia.
A number of years ago, CLIC established its national awards to honor individuals and organizations for extraordinary contributions to the preservation and protection of local decision-making in critical broadband infrastructure matters. This year, CLIC honored Chris Mitchell of the Institute for Local Self Reliance with its “Indispensable Contributor” award during the Broadband Communities conference in Alexandria, VA in late October.
CLIC conveyed this sentiment in a letter to Chris: “You have been chosen for this singular award in recognition of the indispensable contributions you have made to local internet choice during the last decade, for your tireless opposition to barriers to local decision-making, and for your creation of a huge and immensely valuable body of knowledge about community broadband initiatives.”
Widely known across the country for his passion for local internet choice, Chris’ name is typically one of the first to be recommended to a community seeking information on how to drive the process for improving broadband access to its local businesses and residents.
As Jim Baller, CLIC’s President, recently noted: “If
Chris Mitchell and his team at ILSR did no more than tell the evolving story of
community broadband in real time, their work would be invaluable. But that
is far from all they do. They often write high-quality analyses and reports.
They address countless audiences in person and through electronic means. They
participate actively in our fights against state barriers to public broadband
initiatives. They communicate regularly with the media to debunk industry myths
and falsehoods. This list could go on and on. Chris and his colleagues have
truly earned CLIC’s recognition for their indispensable work.”
CLIC honors Chris and his team for their hard work and national accomplishments.
A packed audience
in Alexandria, Virginia, listened intently during CLIC’s afternoon event on
October 31, as CLIC’s President, Jim Baller, led a fascinating discussion on a
new vision for America’s broadband future for the 2020s. This is a moment worth
Setting the tone was Gail Roper, Director of National Initiatives for the Knight Foundation, who noted how the Knight Foundation emphasizes the importance of access, and equity as new internet applications unfold. Gail then introduced Jim Baller, who guided Jon Sallet (Senior Fellow at the Benton Institute for Broadband & Society) and Vint Cerf (Vice President and Chief Internet Evangelist at Google) through a spirited discussion of the key components of Jon’s special report for the Benton Institute for Broadband and Society, entitled “Broadband for America’s Future: A Vision for the 2020s.”
As the report notes: “Leaders
at all levels of government should ensure that everyone is able to use High-Performance
Broadband in the next decade, by embracing the following four building blocks
for a National Broadband Agenda: 1) Advancing Broadband Deployment, 2)
Promoting Broadband Competition; 3) Ensuring Affordability and Adoption; and 4)
Supporting Community Anchor Institutions. The full report can be found here.
CLIC welcomes you to view the full video of this powerful workshop here and provides below a few highlights of this engaging exchange. (Note: The following are not exact quotations but represent our best recollection of what the speakers said.)
The Goal of the
Jon Sallet: Our report has a very simple goal. By the end of the next decade, everyone in America should be able to have affordable access to high-performance broadband and the ability to use it. Consumers should have robust, competitive choices, over networks that are fit for the future and readily scalable to meet demand that we can’t predict.
Jon Sallet: If governments are going to spend large sums of money on capital investments in new networks, the best way to ensure that they get the biggest bang for their bucks is to invest in networks that will last—in other words, that are scalable as we look to the future. When we talk to experts, they say that networks capable of providing 100/100 Mbps can typically be upgraded as demand requires. We don’t think it makes sense to make capital expenditures in networks that might become obsolete. For example, in the past, the FCC has put money into networks with lower capacities–say 10/1 Mbps–and then found that such networks cannot meet the FCC’s current minimum definition of broadband—25/3 Mbps.
Vint Cerf: The introduction of high-capacity broadband lifts and enhances everything that you can do with and through the Internet. In other words, anything you can do to increase broadband capacity and accessibility will increase the capabilities and value of all the applications on the net and will open up new opportunities for new ones. So, I wish you every success.
Jon Sallet: When we say in the Report that overbuilding enhances competition, we are emphasizing that the mode of analysis should be a competition analysis. We should be focusing on the ultimate benefits to consumers, including the competitive benefits resulting from pushing incumbents to provide better services and to charge competitive prices. Absent some anticompetitive conduct, we believe in a system based on the principle that “The More Competitors the Merrier.”
Vint Cerf: Monopolies should only be tolerated if they can’t be avoided, and when monopolies are unavoidable, they should be subject to meaningful regulatory checks and balances. More important, suppose that a community is served inadequately or not at all by a monopoly. Why on earth should the community be prevented from investing in a network that serves its needs? If someone is complaining that government shouldn’t compete with the private sector, that’s baloney.
Jon Sallet: The current FCC definition of broadband is 25 Mbps down and 3 Mbps up. So, according to the FCC data, there are something like 10 or 11 million Americans who live in this gap between 10/1 and 25/3… Who are we serving if we don’t use funds available to help bring adequate networks to someone who has say 12/2 service? Who are we helping? The question is, How are citizens going to be best off? They are in a situation where they don’t have what the federal government says is broadband. So, helping them get on a future-proof network seems to be an unalloyed benefit.
Jon Sallet: The FCC measures presence of broadband providers and systematically overcounts the presence of competitors….Over 70% of Americans either have no choice for fixed broadband or a monopoly or one choice—that is to say—a duopoly. I am a competition policy guy. We don’t believe two is enough to be fully competitive.
5G as an Option:
Vint Cerf: This is a very peculiar beast for those of you who have been trying to figure out what 5G means. You may perhaps be as confused as I am about the different faces of 5G. But there is one theme that I do worry about. There are two places, as I understand it, that people are looking at in the spectrum—one in the 28 Gigahertz range and one is down below 6 Gigahertz. The Huawei guys are pushing hard on 6 gigahertz and down, and we in the US seem to be pushing hard on 28 Gigahertz and up.
Now it’s very attractive to grab a big chunk of 28 Gigahertz signal. There’s a lot of bandwidth there. The problem, though, is that the cell towers have to be much closer together in the 28 Gig space, and they still have to be connected to each other, probably by fiber. So, the cost of the 28 Gig solution may turn out to be substantially higher than we would like. If that is true, then we have two problems. One of them is, if we build all our equipment for 28 Gigs, we may not be able to sell it anywhere else in the world. Second, the 28 Gig solution, requiring lots more small cells than the technology the Chinese will be using, will pose many more complex deployment issues. So, I am a little concerned about where we end up from a policy point of view.
The Report’s Recommendations:
Jon Sallet: The Report has pages and pages of recommendations. Many of them were based on what people around the country were doing, sometimes successfully, sometimes not. That’s important because municipalities are serving as what Louis Brandeis called laboratories.” They are trying things out. Sometimes open access middle mile, sometimes retail service, sometimes working with rural electric coops, sometimes working with electric systems, sometimes entering into new forms of partnership between private and public entities. What is important about these recommendations is that they were based on what we saw in operation.
calendar for October 30-31, 2019, in our nation’s capital and come join CLIC and
Broadband Communities for two days of
intense discussion devoted to broadband policies and practices that are impacting
our local economies.
Wednesday morning starts with “The Big Picture: Washington Experts Tackle the Critical Broadband Issues” moderated by Washington, D.C. broadband policy expert Jim Baller, and featuring Joseph Wender, Senior Policy Advisor to Senator Ed Markey, Nicole Turner-Lee, Brookings Institute Fellow at the Center for Technology Innovation, Douglas Kinkoph, Acting Administrator of the National Telecommunications and Information Administration, the U.S. Department of Commerce, and a senior representative of the Federal Communications Commission.
Two days of workshops will then cover broadband and economic development from multiple angles, including, funding, technology, community broadband, public-private partnerships, the future of work, strategies on how to bring modern internet infrastructure to those without access and much more.
Thursday afternoon closes with CLIC’s seminal event: A Conversation about Local Internet Choice in the 2020s, featuring visionaries in the field. After introductory remarks by Gail Roper, Director of National Initiatives for the Knight Foundation, Jim Baller, CLIC’s President, will engage Vint Cerf, an Internet Pioneer and currently VP and Chief Internet Evangelist for Google, and Jon Sallet, former FCC general counsel and author of the Benton Foundation’s publication, “A Vision for the 2020s: Access to Broadband in the Next Decade” in a penetrating exploration of our broadband future. Through this extensive conversation among Jim, Vint, Jon, and the audience, we will explore the optimal policies and best practices for local broadband decision-making and how these might inform policy making for the coming decade at all levels of government.
CLIC members qualify for the discount rate of $25 off all listed rates, by using the code CLIC-DC19 at the end of the registration form. You can register here. (This rate includes both conference days and meals.) Or become a CLIC member by signing up here. It’s free.
WASHINGTON, DC – The Coalition for Local Internet Choice (CLIC) today at 2 P.M. will announce the recipients of CLIC’s 2019 Local Internet Choice Awards. CLIC established its national awards to honor individuals and organizations for their extraordinary contributions to the preservation and protection of local decision-making in critical broadband infrastructure matters. These awardees will be honored during CLIC’s opening ceremony on April 8, 2019 in Austin, Texas to kick off our program, Action Plan for Local Internet Choice for 2019 and Beyond.
The 2019 Local Internet Choice Award recipients are:
• Local Internet Choice Federal Policy Champion Blair Levin,Gig.U – For his timely, thoughtful, persuasive, and amusing speeches and writings in support of federal policies that would preserve, protect, and, where necessary, restore local internet choice.
• Local Project of the Year Roanoke Valley Broadband Authority – For operating a financially sound, fully transparent, and state-of-the-art open-access fiber system that has been a driver and platform for robust economic development; that has caused commercial internet and data transport service prices in the region to drop by as much as 30 percent; that has attracted many new providers serving public, private and residential customers; and that has enabled businesses across all four of its member communities to report more service options than ever, allowing them to grow, thrive and compete locally, nationally and internationally.
• Local Internet Choice Local Courage Award Jeff Wilson, IT Director, Holly Springs – For his visionary and exemplary leadership and courage in guiding his Town on how develop a fiber to the home network after his community was bypassed by fiber movements in the region. Jeff recommended and advocated for the community to build its own fiber backbone to serve their public institutions, and this ultimately led to a private company (TING) utilizing that fiber and bringing Gigabit fast, fiber to home service to Holly Spring residents and businesses, and far earlier than the same services were offered to neighboring Research Triangle communities.
• Public Partner of the Year Westfield Gas & Electric – For developing a state-of-the-art fiber network in its home town and then putting the knowledge and experience it gained to good use as the public partner in fiber projects in 20 other rural communities in Western Massachusetts. WG&E not only played a leading role in obtaining financial assistance from the state government, but it is also designing, constructing, and operating the systems. In the words of Massachusetts Governor Charlie Baker, “This is big.”
• Private Partner of the Year Ting Internet – For its continuing excellence as the private partner in a growing number of public-private fiber-to-the-premises partnerships in Colorado, Maryland, North Carolina, and Virginia. Ting is proving that all concerned can benefit from a visionary and well-executed business strategies that focus on helping communities meet ambitious goals driven and supported by advanced communications capabilities, that emphasizes excellent customer relations and careful cost management, and that targets reasonable profits and long-term growth.
• Local Internet Choice Vanguard Innovator Award The City of Wilson – For the City’s extraordinary, ongoing leadership in bringing advanced communications services and capabilities to the businesses, institutions, and residents of its community and for being at the vanguard of the development of creative, highly valuable uses of fiber networks. Among many other things, Wilson has spurred its region’s emergence as an innovation economy, featuring advanced skills workforce development and the area’s first Innovation Hub, called the GigEast Exchange.