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Decoding the Emergency Broadband Benefit – Episode 8 of Connect This!

One component of the Consolidated Appropriations Act of 2021 was the Emergency Broadband Benefit, a $3.2 billion program designed to get families connected to available service that they otherwise might not be able to afford. The program provides a subsidy of up to $50/month for service (or $75 for tribal lands) as well as up to $100 for a device (with a household contribution) for as long as the money lasts.

On Episode 8 of Connect This!, hosts Christopher Mitchell and Travis Carter (USI Fiber) are joined by Angela Siefer (National Digital Inclusion Alliance) and Olivia Wein (National Consumer Law Center) to talk about how it will work and what their expectations are, including who will be able to take advantage of the program and what problems there might be for both the people who need it and the small ISPs that would like to participate. 

During the course of the discussion the panel talks about: eligibility requirements; the challenge of standing up a program quickly and making it available to the widest number of people possible; USI Fiber’s experience so far in becoming an eligibile provider; the device benefit available, and how providers can forge partnerships with groups like PCs for People to get hardware into homes; the need for digital navigators to help guide community members navigate the process of getting and staying online; and the long-term prospects for renewal of the program.

Mentioned during the episode was a recent study by Professor Lloyd Levine from the School of Public Policy, University of California, Riverside, California, on outreach programs (paywall).

Watch via this link, or watch below.

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Email us at broadband@muninetworks.org with feedback and ideas for the show. 

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Overbuilding and the Value of Real Competition – Episode 7 of Connect This!

This episode, co-hosts Christopher and Travis Carter (CEO, US Internet) are joined by Deb Socia (President/CEO, The Enterprise Center), and Brian Worthen (President, Visionary Communications and CEO, Mammoth Networks) to talk about overbuilding. 

The group talks about the importance of reclaiming the term as what it really is: plain old competition. They discuss the economics of building competitive broadband infrastructure in rural and urban areas, pending and related Washington Public Utility District legislation, and why we don’t see more small, competitive fiber builders around the country.

We also get the first installment of a recurring segment during the episode, wherein Christopher asks Travis to identify a picture of random piece of wireless infrastructure from the area around his house.

Referenced during the discussion was Benton Institute for Broadband and Society Senior Fellow John Sallet’s recent paper “Broadband for America’s Future: A Vision for the 2020s.”

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Email us with feedback and ideas at broadband@muninetworks.org

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Building Business and Community Goodwill Through Marketing – Episode 6 of Connect This!

This week on Connect This! Christopher and Travis Carter (CEO, USI Fiber) are joined by Kim McKinley (Deputy Director and Chief Marketing Officer, UTOPIA Fiber) and Kyle Hollifield (VP of Business Development, Magellan Advisors), both veterans with years of experience.

Marketing means more that a logo with a snappy slogan, and it can be hard to quantify the value in taking precious dollars and applying them to tasks other than fiber in the ground and the supporting electronics.

The group emphasizes how important it is to get right from the start, and the impact it can have on take rates, positive word-of-mouth, and a sense of goodwill. They discuss why marketing should be both a budget priority and a central part of any business plan, and what it means for everyone from installation subcontractors to CEO to play a role. Travis, Kyle, and Kim share some of their favorite marketing success stories. 

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Email us broadband@muninetworks.org with feedback and ideas for the show.

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Where to Next From the Federal Government on Broadband? – Episode 5 of Connect This!

On Episode 5 of Connect This! Christopher is joined by Travis Carter (CEO, US Internet), Sarah Morris (Director, New America’s Open Technology Institute), and Doug Dawson (President, CCG Consulting) to discuss what we might expect from the federal government on broadband next year.

The group talks about what a Biden administration might do, whether we’ll see federal legislation to overturn restrictive state laws which prohibit municipal broadband, and the prospective future of the Accessible, Affordable, Internet for All Act which passed the House in June and currently sits stalled in the Senate.

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Email us broadband@muninetworks.org with feedback and ideas for the show.

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Open Access Networks – Episode 4 of Connect This!

On Episode 4 of Connect This! Christopher is joined by Jeff Christensen (President, EntryPoint Networks), Dane Jasper (CEO and Co-Founder, Sonic), and Travis Carter (CEO, US Internet) to talk about open access models, and the challenges and opportunities they present. During the discussion they discuss barriers to entry, differentiation, dark fiber, and why we don’t see more cities pursuing projects like this. They also have a little fun sharing what they think the FCC has gotten right and wrong over the last 4 years, and what Comcast’s recent announcement about bandwidth caps will mean for users and competing Internet Service Providers (ISPs).

Mentioned during the episode was Chris’ conversation with NetEquity Networks’ Isfandiyar Shaheen and Althea Networks’ Deborah Simpier about innovating financing models for expanding fiber networks.

Read the transcript for this episode.

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Digital Inclusion – Episode 3 of Connect This!

On Episode 3 of Connect This!, Christopher is joined by Angela Siefer, Executive Director of the National Digital Inclusion Alliance, Deb Socia, President of The Enterprise Center in Chattanooga, Tennessee, and Travis Carter, CEO of US Internet to talk about digital inclusion and solving the broadband gap.

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5G, CBRS, and Urban WISPs – Episode 2 of Connect This!

Host Christopher Mitchell speaks with Mason Carroll (Monkeybrains), Deborah Simpier (Althea Networks), and Travis Carter (US Internet) about urban wireless solutions, including 5G, Citizens Broadband Radio Service, and how cities can help WISPS.

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Satellite Internet Access, the Future of Cable, and Small Fiber ISPs – Episode 1 of Connect This!

Host Christopher Mitchell speaks with Doug Dawson of CCG Consulting, Monica Webb of Ting, and Travis Carter of US Internet. Their conversation touches on LEO, Voting, Future of Cable, and Challenges for Small FISPs.

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Episode 0 – Pilot

Despite repeated reminders from the rest of us that Hollywood will only ever give the late night slots to guys named James, Stephen, or Conan, Christopher is determined that if he just hosts enough things he’ll be able to break into the business and leave us all behind. In that spirit comes a new series here at the Community Broadband Networks initiative within the Institute for Local Self-Reliance: Connect This!