Community Broadband Bits Podcast

Community Broadband Bits is a weekly audio show hosted by Community Broadband Networks Initiative Director Christopher Mitchell featuring interviews with people building community networks or otherwise involved with Internet policy. You can listen to episodes below or download via Apple, Google, or Spotify. Alternatively if you know what to do with it, copy the feed here.

We also produce a semi-regular video show called Connect This! that has its own site. Find other podcasts from ILSR here.

We also have an index of all episodes and links to transcripts. Keep up with new developments by subscribing to our one-email-per-week list sharing new stories and resources. We’d love to hear your feedback! Email us.

The Burden of Proof - Episode 574 of the Community Broadband Bits Podcast

Mapping is hard. You know it, and so do we. Despite that reality, it looks like the FCC has spent the entirety of this decade avoiding the hard decisions necessary to make sure precious federal dollars are wisely used and the data that drives our policy is easily accessible and faithful to reality. This week on the podcast, Christopher is joined by Tom Reid to talk about what his firm has been doing to help local governments get around this persistent problem.

West Des Moines, Iowa is a Model for Open Access Conduit Networks - Episode 573 of the Community Broadband Bits Podcast

A little more than three years ago, the city of West Des Moines, Iowa announced that it would build a citywide open access conduit system to lower the cost of new broadband deployment to facilitate better connections at lower costs for residents. With four providers licensing space and a portfolio of smart-city and governmental uses planned, the city's forward-thinking investment looks to be paying dividends already.

Wading Through Federal Funding Streams - Episode 572 of the Community Broadband Bits Podcast

This week on the podcast, Christopher speaks with Brent Christensen, President and CEO of the Minnesota Telecom Alliance (MTA). The MTA is a trade association that currently represents 41 holding company members operating over 70 companies across the state, including cooperatively-owned, family-owned, and publicly-traded Internet Service Providers. Most are rural broadband providers. The two discuss the challenges and complications of the various federal broadband moneys coming into Minnesota (focusing on the Enhanced Alternative Connect America Model), how they interact with one another, and how these collective funding opportunities might be efficiently leveraged to connect the most Minnesotans to high-quality broadband.

Net Neutrality and the Regulatory Theater of the FCC - Episode 571 of the Community Broadband Bits Podcast

This week on the podcast, Christopher is joined by Karl Bode, a returning guest who has long covered tech and the telecommunications industry. They talk about the history of net neutrality, the landmark decision by the Commission in 2015, the states that stepped in to fill the void, and the likely consequences of a return in 2023.

Hope and Change (Redux) - Episode 570 of the Community Broadband Bits Podcast

This week on the podcast we bring back a fan favorite that feels particularly relevant. Christopher is joined by Harold Feld, Senior Vice President at Public Knowledge. The show takes on a reflective nature, as they talk about theories of change in the context of doing broadband policy today.

A Scattering of Wonks - Episode 569 of the Community Broadband Bits Podcast

This week on the podcast, we bring over a conversation from our Connect This! Show, where Christopher is joined by a ground of policy experts to talk about why we don't see more cities doing deals with entities like Google Fiber, what we can expect now that Anna Gomez has been confirmed to the FCC, and what it means for BEAD grantees if the Affordable Connectivity Program goes away.

A Stately Tour of BEAD Plans - Episode 568 of the Community Broadband Bits Podcast

This week on the show, Christopher is joined once again by Sean Gonsalves. After a short stop to talk about the establishment of a new municipal network in Timnath, Colorado, Christopher and Sean get down to talking about the BEAD 5-Year Plans that states are filing with NTIA to get their hands on the first tranche of what will be an historic pot of federal funds for new broadband investment. Some states, like Maine and Vermont, Sean shares, are doing lots right. Others, like Pennsylvania, seem written with the intent to waste public money and leaves tens of thousands of households stranded with poor or no service - in other words, exactly what the monopoly cable and telephone companies want.

Mona Thompson Reflects on a Career of Visionary Work in Tribal Telecommunications - Episode 567 of the Community Broadband Bits Podcast

This week on the podcast, Christopher speaks with Mona Thompson, General Manager at the Cheyenne River Sioux Tribe Telephone Authority (CRSTTA). CRSTTA serves the Cheyenne River Sioux Reservation in North Central South Dakota, which includes 20 communities dispersed across nearly 3 million acres. After 27 years with CRSTTA, Mona soon plans to retire, and during this episode sheds light on the important leadership roles she and other passionate women like her have played and will continue to play in the Tribal Telecommunications space.

Loveland’s Municipal Network is Scrappy and Driven to Serve its Community - Episode 566 of the Community Broadband Bits Podcast

This week on the podcast, Christopher speaks with Brieana Reed-Harmel, Municipal Fiber Manager for the City of Loveland, located in Colorado’s Northern Front Range about an hour north of Denver. The city is home to over 80,000 residents as well as a municipal fiber broadband network called Pulse. Chris and Brieana discuss Loveland’s population expansion over the past few years and Pulse’s resulting plans to extend beyond city limits into the “urban fringe,” which is more difficult to receive grant funding to serve. Brieana stresses the importance of having a solid business model and great project management, as well as the scrappiness and ongoing investment needed to ensure a municipal network is sustainable and can bring residents quality connectivity at the best value.

Digital Equity Starts in Our Cities and Towns - Episode 565 of the Community Broadband Bits Podcast

This week on the show we're featuring an episode of our Building for Digital Equity podcast, with Brandon Forester - the National Organizer for Internet Rights at Media Justice - joining Christopher to talk about helping communities build more agency over how technology shows up in their neighborhoods and among the digital communities they create for themselves.