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Regional Broadband Conference in Connecticut on Thursday, November 8

NEW BRITAIN, Conn., November 2, 2018 – Consumer Counsel Elin Swanson Katz is pleased to announce a broadband conference entitled, Connected New England: A Regional Broadband Convening at the Legislative Office Building in Hartford, Connecticut, (300 Capitol Ave.), Room 2C, on November 8, 2018, from 9:00 am – 4:30 p.m.

Registration is required, but the event is free for government, academic, and non-profit employees to attend, while the registration fee for others will be $150. Press are invited to attend. The event is being co-hosted by Next Century Cities, a non-profit coalition of innovative municipalities that recognize the importance of leveraging gigabit level internet to attract new businesses and create jobs, improve health care and education, ensure civic participation, and connect residents to new opportunities.

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Regional Broadband Conference on November 8 to Feature Prominent Speakers Discussing the Status and Future of Broadband Access and Technology

NEW BRITAIN, Conn., November 2, 2018 – Consumer Counsel Elin Swanson Katz is pleased to announce a broadband conference entitled, Connected New England: A Regional Broadband Convening at the Legislative Office Building in Hartford, Connecticut, (300 Capitol Ave.), Room 2C, on November 8, 2018, from 9:00 am – 4:30 p.m.

Registration is required, but the event is free for government, academic, and non-profit employees to attend, while the registration fee for others will be $150. Press are invited to attend. The event is being co-hosted by Next Century Cities, a non-profit coalition of innovative municipalities that recognize the importance of leveraging gigabit level internet to attract new businesses and create jobs, improve health care and education, ensure civic participation, and connect residents to new opportunities, as well as the Office of Consumer Counsel (OCC), the State of Connecticut’s utility consumer advocate, and the Connecticut State Broadband Office within OCC, which works to facilitate the availability of broadband access to every state citizen, including by working with municipalities on community broadband efforts.

The conference keynote speaker Gigi Sohn is one of the nation’s leading public advocates for open, affordable and democratic communications networks. Sohn served as Counselor to the former Chairman of the Federal Communications Commission, Tom Wheeler, from 2013 to 2016, and is credited as one of the prime architects of the Wheeler FCC’s net neutrality rules, which have since been repealed by the current FCC. Sohn is currently is a Distinguished Fellow at the Georgetown Law Institute for Technology Law & Policy and a Benton Senior Fellow and Public Advocate.

The event will begin with a welcome address from State Representative Josh Elliott (D-Hamden), and then feature a panel including the Honorable Toni Harp, Mayor of New Haven, the Honorable David Martin, Mayor of Stamford, and the Honorable Marcia Leclerc, Mayor of East Hartford, moderated by Senator Beth Bye (D-5th District), discussing the current status in their respective cities and their goals and initiatives for additional broadband development.

Following that, prominent speakers from across industry, government, and broadband policy experts will discuss: successful models for community broadband development; the continuing problems with lack of internet access in parts of the region; the status and potential of the 5G wireless network and the implementation of small cells (wireless transmission systems) in communities throughout the region; financing for broadband development projects; and other topics.

Consumer Counsel Katz noted, “This conference, Connected New England: A Regional Broadband Convening, will provide excellent information for use by municipal governments, state and local elected officials, broadband industry representatives, those interested in broadband policy and technology, and others, as well as opportunities to hear from many who are working daily to bring high-speed internet access to citizens and businesses in Connecticut, the New England region, and the nation as a whole. This is an ever-changing field, and it is great for Connecticut to be hosting an event that will discuss the future of and recent developments in what has been called the essential ‘Utility of the 21st century,’ broadband internet access.”

The conference agenda and registration information can be found here or at https://nextcenturycities.org/event/new-england-connect/.

(Photo of Connecticut capitol by Dannel Maloy used with permission.)

Broadband Breakfast is a decade-old news organization based in Washington that is building a community of interest around broadband policy and internet technology, with a particular focus on better broadband infrastructure, the politics of privacy and the regulation of social media. Learn more about Broadband Breakfast.

Infrastructure

Utilities Coalition Warns Against Shifting Cost of Replacing Poles

‘Utilities have been willing to perform these voluntary pole replacements because they have been compensated for it.’

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Photo of linemen on a pole from 2015 by Lisa Meiman

WASHINGTON, January 23, 2023 – A coalition consisting of 37 electric utility companies serving 31 million households is warning the Federal Communications Commission that shifting the cost burden of replacing wood poles to house communications equipment onto utilities will make them less likely to take voluntary action to help telecoms expand.

The Coalition of Concern Utilities said in a letter Thursday that the FCC’s current study into whether it should order utilities to share in the cost of replacing poles should factor what those utilities have been doing on a voluntary basis – “prematurely” replacing their poles for telecoms despite it diverting resources from “system reliability, grid modernization and clean energy initiatives.

“Despite these disincentives to prematurely replacing poles for communications companies, utilities for four decades have been willing to perform these voluntary pole replacements because they have been compensated for it,” the letter said.

Traditionally, pole owners can invoice to a telecommunications company the cost of replacing the entire pole if it feels the equipment to be attached would warrant it.

The coalition added that submissions to the commission to “modify this longstanding, carefully balanced and successful cost reimbursement mechanism would cause many utilities to reconsider, for the first time in four decades, whether dropping everything to perform voluntary and premature pole replacements is worth the time, effort and expense.”

Shifting even some part of the cost to the utilities would likely be absorbed by them, the coalition argues, because the utilities will be “hard-pressed” to justify to state utility commissions “how pole replacements solely necessitate by communications attacher requests is a benefit to electric rate payers.”

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Broadband Mapping & Data

NTIA Working on State Guidance for Further Map Challenges After BEAD Allocation: Official

An agency official said states have asked for guidance on how to handle local challenges.

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Photo of NTIA Senior Policy Advisor Sarah Morris at the U.S. Conference of Mayors

WASHINGTON, January 19, 2023 — A senior advisor to the National Telecommunications and Information Administration said Thursday that the Commerce Department agency is working on crafting guidance for states about how to approach local map challenges after it allocates the $42.5 billion from its flagship broadband program. 

The NTIA is preparing to allocate money to the states from the Broadband Equity, Access and Deployment program, following the closing of the deadline Friday to challenge the Federal Communications Commission’s maps on which that funding is dependent. The agency, which has already decided on a base of $100 million for each state, has said it expects to allocate all remaining funds by June 30. 

Sarah Morris, a senior advisor to NTIA head Alan Davidson who was expected to appear at the Conference of Mayors Thursday but could not – said the agency has fielded questions from state officials about how to handle local challenges to the underlying data – including areas that are served and unserved – that props up the FCC’s map. 

“The states have had a lot of questions about how to do this and we are working on guidance for them,” Morris said to a conference room containing mayors from cities across the country. “So we appreciate your [mayors] input as well as we’re thinking through how much guidance and what type of guidance…as states come up with their own state challenge process.” 

Morris added that the NTIA knows there are a lot of other data sources that determine served and unserved areas and that the states will have “more flexibility” in the challenge process, as the FCC is generally constrained by legislation for mapping data. 

What cities can do now for BEAD preparation

Morris also advised cities on what to do now to prepare for when the BEAD allocations are made. 

“Document the connectivity challenges in your communities…we want to make sure those needs are reflected in the five-year plan,” she said, alluding to the applications for BEAD funding. 

She also urged, as many before her have, for the mayors to meet with their state broadband offices, which she called the “center of gravity” for federal broadband funding.  

Finally, she also asked for the mayors help “spread the word. It’s not easy reaching the unconnected and we want to make sure that folks understand the good work that is possible within these programs and that people feel connected, not just the leaders and politicians in the state, but really the folks on the ground in communities, that they understand what’s happening and feel connected to these programs.” 

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Funding

Mayors Urged to Get Moving on State Conversations for Federal Broadband Funding

Time is running out to have cities’ voices heard at state broadband roundtables.

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Photo of Scott Woods (left) and Jase Wilson

WASHINGTON, January 18, 2023 – Representatives from a company that helps internet service providers and local governments get federal broadband money urged mayors of cities across the country Wednesday to quickly get involved in the process by actively engaging their state broadband offices or get left behind.

Scott Woods and Jase Wilson, vice president for community engagement and strategic partnerships and CEO, respectively, at Ready.net told the 91st United States Conference of Mayors in Washington that time was running out to have their voices heard at state roundtables.

Woods noted that the current version of the Federal Communications Commission’s maps are “overstated,” meaning there are inaccuracies in it. But if cities don’t have a plan or don’t come to the state broadband offices and plead their case for better connectivity, they will be left out.

The pair asked the packed conference hall at the Capitol Hilton whether they had conversations with their state broadband offices, but the vast majority did not raise their hands.

“The opportunity is now,” Wilson urged, adding the company’s Broadband.money has created a site and a broadband audit allowing mayors to get them up to speed. Broadband.money is a sponsor of Broadband Breakfast.

The National Telecommunications and Information Administration, which administers the $42.5 billion Broadband Equity, Access and Deployment program, has said that the accurate delivery of the money to connect the underconnected will be contingent on the readiness of the FCC map, which had a deadline to challenge its contents on January 13, 2023.

Each states is expected to be allocated at least $100 million by June 30, with many states receiving much, much more. After the June 30 kickoff, entities, including cities, can apply for a piece of the pie.

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