In exchange for obtaining a valuable license to operate a broadcast station using the public airwaves, each radio and television licensee is required by law to operate its station in the “public interest, convenience and necessity.” This means that it must air programming that is responsive to the needs and problems of its local community of license. In addition, how other media facilitate community discussions.
Gov Evers’ broadband veto riles rural Wisconsin Republicans
A disagreement over who should get free access to high speed internet in some parts of Wisconsin likely means no one is getting a new connection anytime soon. Gov Tony Evers (D-WI) last week vetoed SB 365, which would have expanded high speed internet service in rural parts of the state. The governor said expanding broadband access is one of his top priorities, but scuttled the plan because he doesn’t like how Republican lawmakers were going about it.
Engaging State-Level Offices
Previously, US Ignite provided an overview of funding opportunities and highlighted a sample of current state projects. Here we explain the role of state broadband offices, where to find them, and how to initiate a successful partnership. Here are four suggestions we think will guide you in engaging your state broadband officials:
Broadband for Communities
When talking about the benefits of broadband, it’s easy to overlook how broadband has become the glue that brings people and communities together. This is becoming particularly important for rural communities but matters to people everywhere. Rural communities have been rapidly losing other forms of media that were the focal point in the past. 2004 was the peak of the newspaper business in terms of readership and revenues. Since then, the number of journalists has been cut in half.
Broadband Now or Later?
It is my firm belief that counties that form partnerships with regional internet service providers (ISPs) to build fiber networks--funded by both Broadband, Equity, Access and Deployment (BEAD) Program grants and local matching grants--will be the ones to win BEAD grants. But this is not an easy choice. For an area that doesn’t have broadband today, the BEAD grants sound like a far distant opportunity. It’s hard to think that any recipients of BEAD grants will be constructing networks any sooner than 2024 – assuming by then that they’ll be able to get the needed fiber and electronics.
NTIA Funds Public-Private Broadband Partnerships
The Benton Institute for Broadband & Society previously highlighted the National Telecommunications and Information Administration's (NTIA) Broadband Infrastructure Program awards given to 5 states and 1 US territory–Maine, Mississippi, Missouri, North Carolina, Washington, and Guam.
South Lake Tahoe, California, focuses on broadband for all
As the city of South Lake Tahoe (CA) grows and tries to develop new economies, officials are focusing on improving broadband access for all the residents and businesses. The Centers for Disease Control classified access to broadband as one of their social determinants to health, which are “conditions in the places where people live, learn, work, and play that affect a wide range of health risks and outcomes.” The City is no different in recognizing the importance of broadband. Before the city can provide broadband to all, it must take stock of what it currently has.
Sterling, Massachusetts, is a community controlling its broadband destiny
Sterling, a town of about 8,000 in Worcester County (MA), has become another example of a community controlling its broadband destiny. The Sterling Municipal Light Department (SMLD) is building the Local Area Municipal Broadband (LAMB) network, which will bring fiber-based internet to Sterling’s residents and businesses. Set to be fully completed in the fourth quarter of 2024, SMLD will proactively notify residents as construction begins in their neighborhoods.
Opposing Local Broadband Projects Is Anti-Competitive
The pandemic brought all kinds of innovative approaches to stubborn challenges: Small towns in Grafton County (NH) saw opportunities for business development, innovative school programs, and upgrading the way the local government functioned. But political will didn’t prevent the county from making these changes; poor internet service did. A lot of hard work, political capital and local and federal funding has been committed to improving Grafton County’s connectivity, resulting in the launch of broadband service in the Town of Bristol (NH) in September 2021.
Summit County starting $75 million fiber internet project
Summit County, Ohio, is planning to spend $75 million on a fiber internet project that will include building a 125-mile fiber optic ring to connect public safety entities in all 31 county communities and help expand internet access for residents and businesses. There are also plans in the works to work with private internet service providers, who could spend up to $300 million on the project, making the total figure for a potential public-private project nearly $400 million.
Michigan Moves to Limit Federal Funds for Municipal Broadband
With an unprecedented amount of federal funds to build broadband networks flowing into individual states, lawmakers in some states are doing the bidding of the big monopoly Internet Service Providers and potentially blowing a once-in-a-generation chance to invest in the locally-accountable infrastructure that offers the best chance to bridge the broadband gap for millions of families once and for all.