Connections Blog

Chris Mitchell (ILSR) receives CLIC’s 2019 “Indispensable Contributor” Award

Jim Baller, President of CLIC, honoring Chris Mitchell, Director
of ILSR’s Community Broadband Networks Initiative, with CLIC’s
“Indispensable Contributor” award

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.

Jon Sallet (Benton), Vint Cerf (Google) and Jim Baller (CLIC) address a New Vision for America’s Broadband Future for the 2020s

(L to R) Jon Sallet, Jim Baller and Vint Cerf address a new vision for America’s broadband future

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 remembering. 

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 Report:

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. 

Overbuilding:

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.

Register Now for the Broadband Communities Conference in the Nation’s Capital from October 30-31st

Mark your 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.

Gail Roper, Director, National Initiatives, Knight Foundation
Vint Cerf, VP and Chief Internet Evangelist for Google

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 Decadein 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.

Jon Sallet, Senior Fellow,
Benton Institute for Broadband
& Society

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.

CLIC Announces Recipients of 2019 Local Internet Choice Awards

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.

In a Partisan Era, Local Broadband Transcends Partisanship: Join CLIC in Austin April 8

Join us April 8th in Austin for CLIC’s half day strategy session that includes an in-depth discussion on how partisanship seems to disappear at the local level when building broadband infrastructure.

During our half day focus detailing An Action Plan for Local Internet Choice in 2019 and Beyond, we will first widen the lens to federal and state policy levels, where partisanship seems stark, as we uncover legislation and regulations that could help or hurt local broadband choice. We will hear from Netflix on why local internet choice matters to their disruptive company, and the day then finishes by narrowing the lens to the local level.

From 4:30-5:30 p.m., “In a Partisan Era, Local Broadband Transcends Partisanship” will feature community broadband experts including Will Aycock, General Manager for Wilson Greenlight; Bill Vallee, State Broadband Policy Coordinator for Connecticut; Nathan Watkins, City Manager and Dwight Thomas, Director of IT and Broadband, Mont Belvieu, Texas, who will tell us their stories on what it took to build this critical infrastructure in their communities. Hear the refreshing stories on how local businesses and residents came together with a common cause. Hear the challenges they faced; but how they overcame them.

CLIC members can attend our April 8 event and all three days of the BBC “Putting Your Gigs to Work” conference at a deeply discounted rate, by registering here by March 29 and using the code CLIC410. Or become a CLIC member. It’s free!


Join CLIC in Austin April 8 to Discuss Our Action Plan for Local Internet Choice for 2019 and Beyond

Join us on April 8 in Austin as CLIC hosts a half day session on An Action Plan for Local Internet Choice in 2019 and Beyond. CLIC panel discussions will include strategic policy discussions at the federal and state levels, featuring national experts, Angelina Panettieri, Principal Associate, Technology and Communications, for the National League of Cities; Nancy Werner, General Counsel of the National Association of Telecommunications Officers and Advisors; and Deb Socia, Executive Director, Next Century Cities.

Panettieri, Werner, and Socia will join CLIC officers Jim Baller & Joanne Hovis for a focused discussion on Washington 2019: Challenges & Opportunities for the Local Broadband Future. Recent conversations emerging from Washington reaffirm what the CLIC community has always known: the opportunities and challenges of local broadband exceed geographic boundaries. We’ll review the impact of a new Congress and the Trump administration placing local broadband under the national spotlight, whether new local network options are available as the USDA rolls out its new $600 million in rural broadband funds, and whether the FCC will continue to intrude upon traditional local powers. Our state and local panel speakers can be found here.

CLIC Members can attend our April 8 event and all three days of the BBC “Putting Your Gigs to Work” conference at a deeply discounted rate, by registering here and using the code CLIC410. Or become a CLIC member. It’s free!

Dr. Robert Wack Joins CLIC Board of Advisors

CLIC is delighted to announce that Dr. Robert Wack, a renowned pioneer in community broadband, has joined the CLIC Board of Advisors.

Robert currently directs a regional strategy to leverage technology and broadband in the delivery of health care services. He serves as medical director of the continuum of care at Frederick Memorial Hospital in Maryland and previously served the hospital as director of the pediatric unit.

Robert is president of the Westminster, MD Common Council, where he championed and led development of the renowned Westminster fiber network. He also serves as board chair of MAGIC, the Mid-Atlantic Gigabit Innovation Collaboratory, an economic development non-profit with the mission of realizing the transformative potential of the community-wide gigabit fiber network. 

Robert Wack earned his MD from Georgetown University and completed his pediatric internship and residency at Tripler Army Medical Center as an officer of the United States army.

CLIC welcomes Robert to our board of advisors and thanks him for his many years of effort on behalf of local internet choice and better broadband.

Netflix to be a Featured Speaker at CLIC’s Event in Austin, April 8

Peter Cohen, Netflix Partner Engagement Manager

CLIC is proud to announce that Peter Cohen, Partner Engagement Manager at Netflix, will be a featured speaker during our CLIC half day event on April 8 in Austin. Peter will be speaking on “Why Disruptive and Innovative Companies Support Local Internet Choice” at 4pm, following two sessions which will address the challenges and opportunities for local internet choice presented by a new Congress and varied state legislative dynamics.

Join our strategic discussion on April 8 in Austin as CLIC provides An Action Plan for Local Internet Choice in 2019 and Beyond.  CLIC members can attend our April 8 event and all three days of the BBC “Putting Your Gigs to Work” conference at a deeply discounted rate, by registering here and using the code CLIC410. Or become a CLIC member. It’s free!

CLIC Supports Arkansas Republican Women Legislative Caucus Initiative to Remove Municipal Broadband Restrictions: HB150

Arkansas Republican Women Legislative Caucus introduce their Dream B.I.G. agenda

Background:  Twenty-one Arkansas Women Republican State Senators and Representatives wanted it to be clear that Arkansas’ lack of rural broadband was in a state of emergency. As part of their DREAM “B.I.G.” agenda, the Arkansas Republican Women Legislative Caucus sponsored rural broadband legislation on January 23rd, that sought to unleash their rural municipalities to apply for over $1 billion in USDA grants.

As originally written, SB150 would have removed most restrictions on municipalities that do not operate their own electric utilities by putting them on par with municipalities that do operate electric utilities. (Municipal electric utilities in Arkansas already have the right to provide communications services other than traditional local exchange services.)  After SB150 moved from the Senate Insurance and Commerce Committee to the Senate floor, the broadband municipal broadband restrictions were re-imposed on those communities that do not operate electric utilities , and a new provision was added giving them the right, alone or with a private partner, to apply for loans or grants to serve unserved areas and to provide services in such unserved areas pursuant to grants or loans received. 

On February 15, CLIC wrote a letter of commendation and support to the Arkansas Republican Women Legislative Caucus, complimenting their bold and important step to ensure universal broadband availability in Arkansas.

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February 15, 2019

Arkansas Republican Women Legislative Caucus

Senator Breanne Davis, Senator Cecile Bledsoe, Senator Jane English, Senator Missy Irvin; Rep. Deanne Vaught, Rep. Sonia Barker, Rep. Mary. Bentley, Rep. Karilyn Brown, Rep. Sarah Capp, Rep. Frances Cavenaugh, Rep. Carol Dalby, Rep. Charlene Fite, Rep. Robin Lunstrum, Rep. Rebecca Petty, Rep. Nelda Speakes, Rep. Michelle Gray, Rep. Cindy Crawford, Rep. Jana Della Rosa, Rep. Julie Mayberry, Rep. Gayla Hendren McKenzie, and Rep. Laurie Rushing

SubjectCLIC support for Rural Broadband Legislation SB150

Dear Members of the Arkansas Republican Women Legislative Caucus:

We write to thank you and your colleagues for your work to promote local internet and broadband choice and opportunity.

We write in our capacities as women leaders of the Coalition for Local Internet Choice (CLIC), a nonpartisan entity that represents a wide range of public and private interests who support the authority of local communities to make broadband internet choices that are essential for economic competitiveness, democratic discourse, and quality of life in the 21st Century.

CLIC believes that our national interest requires that local communities have the authority to engage in broadband projects through whatever means best suits the local community, as is determined by their elected officials. Such means can include a wide range of options, including partnerships with private entities, public networking, and facilitation of private ISP investment.

We were delighted to see that your Caucus’s “Dream B.I.G.” legislative agenda included SB150: An Act to Amend the Telecommunications Regulatory Reform Act of 2013; to Provide Additional Access to FCC-Defined Broadband Service; to Declare an Emergency. The original version of SB150 would have removed the state’s legal barriers that currently prevent municipalities from doing their part to help deploy broadband in their communities. When that version of SB150 passed the Senate Insurance and Commerce Committee, it sparked hope for a better future for the businesses, institutions, and residents of Arkansas. Unfortunately, the far more restrictive version that passed the full Senate represents a step backward, as it ties the hands of local communities to determine their broadband destinies.

We stand with you in this bold important step to ensure that no child or family is denied access to educational, healthcare, public safety and economic opportunities unleashed by access to broadband because of where they live. We hope to have the opportunity to support your efforts.

Please let us know who we should contact in the near future to work together.

Sincerely,

Join CLIC in Austin April 8, 2019 @BBC’s Broadband Summit

Austin, the Capitol of Texas

Add Austin to your April 2019 travels plans by joining CLIC on April 8, 2019, to discuss our Action Plan for Local Internet Choice for 2019 and Beyond. We’ll be coming together on the first day of the Broadband Communities Annual Broadband Summit, held at the Renaissance Austin hotel. CLIC members qualify for a discount to all three-days of this BBC event.

During our half day CLIC session, national legislative experts and local champions will address the challenges and opportunities for our local broadband future created by a new Congress in Washington and the FCC. We will examine issues ranging from broadband infrastructure funding, to yet more FCC regulatory initiatives that could intrude on traditional local powers. We will then delve into the 2019 state legislative year and discuss how new state proposals have hampered or helped local broadband deployments. Our afternoon will close with bi-partisan success stories from various local communities who will share their strategies on how to manage the politics of local broadband initiatives. See our diverse range of speakers here.

CLIC Members can attend our April 8 event and all three days of the BBC conference at a deeply discounted rate, by registering here and using the code CLIC410. Or become a CLIC member. It’s free.