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Broadband Breakfast Announces Digital Infrastructure Investment as a Physical/Virtual Event on August 10, 2020

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Illustration by ItNeverEnds via Pixabay used with permission

WASHINGTON, April 28, 2020 – Breakfast Media LLC, the publisher of Broadband Breakfast, on Tuesday announced that its Digital Infrastructure Investment mini-conference at the Broadband Communities Summit will be a Physical/Virtual event.

Visit Broadband Breakfast’s event page for the most up-to-date information about the Digital Infrastructure Investment mini-conference.

Originally announced in February as part of the Broadband Communities Summit in Houston, Digital Infrastructure Investment will take place on August 10, 2020, from 1 p.m. ET to 7 p.m. ET (or 12 Noon CT to 6 p.m. CT, for those located in Houston).

It will feature programming on “Last Mile Digital Infrastructure,” “The Experience of Infrastructure Investment Funds,” “Federal Funds and Opportunity Zones” and “The Neutral Host Infrastructure and Small Cell Deployments.”

Register, for FREE, for Digital Infrastructure Investment.

With Tuesday’s announcement, in addition to taking place live in Houston, Digital Infrastructure Investment event will also take place Live Online. It will join Broadband Breakfast’s growing #broadbandlive series of programming, including “Broadband and the Coronavirus.”

“This exciting program will continue in person and online,” said Drew Clark, Editor and Publisher of Broadband Breakfast, a 12-year old news organization based in Washington building a community of interest around broadband policy and internet technology.

Broadband Breakfast’s motto is “Better Broadband, Better Lives,” and strives to put in place its belief about the vital importance of broadband communications.

“Uncertainty surrounding the recovery from the coronavirus pandemic means that many who are interested in enhancing broadband networks are concerned about travel,” he said. “At the Digital Infrastructure Investment Physical/Virtual Event, panelists and attendees alike will be able to participate either in person or online and be on an equal footing.”

Those who plan to attend Digital Infrastructure Investment in person should also use this link to register for the summit. The in-person version of Digital Infrastructure Investment is free to all registered Broadband Communities Summit attendees. Those who are unable to attend the summit in person can still register for Digital Infrastructure Investment.

“We’ve heard a lot recently about the dynamism of open-access networks, particularly in this time of the coronavirus,” said Clark. “High-capacity symmetrical fiber networks are more important now that ever before.”

“But there remain several crucial questions about how the digital infrastructure builds of today scale beyond municipal-level deployments,” he said. The Digital Infrastructure Investment event aims to gather the infrastructure investment fund managers, institutional investors, private equity and venture capitalists, and senior leaders from fiber, mobile, and data center solutions providers to bring clarity on the next business model for advanced internet infrastructure.”

“The Broadband Communities Summit is the leading event for community leaders, multifamily property owners and network builders and deployers interested in the building, managing, marketing and monetizing of high-speed broadband technologies and services,” said Barbara De Garmo, CEO of Broadband Communities. “It is focused on the successful delivery of high-speed broadband networks to communities – from multifamily properties and planned developments to the city or town where you live.”

On March 17, Broadband Communities and the Rural Telecommunications Congress announced that Broadband Communities Summit and its rural broadband track, which were previously scheduled for late April, have been postponed until August 10-13, 2020 because of concerns associated with the coronavirus.

The event remains at the Marriott Marquis Houston, Texas. For those who have already paid the registration fee, Broadband Communities will roll registrations over to the August dates.

For more about the summit, visit the home page, and learn more about the Summit Chairmen.

Digital Infrastructure Investment Topics Areas

  • TOPIC 1: Last-Mile Digital Infrastructure
    Ownership models are evolving. Who will play the lead role in constructing? What entities, including cities, will own digital assets? Who will manage the networks?
  • TOPIC 2: Infrastructure Investment Funds
    Infrastructure financing is available for broadband. Will it dwindle or accelerate with the coronavirus pandemic? What is the experience of institutional investors?
  • TOPIC 3: Federal Funds and Opportunity Zones
    The FCC is making $20.4 billion available for rural broadband. The U.S. Treasury’s Opportunity Zones help urban projects. Can these funds make a difference?
  • TOPIC 4: Shared Infrastructure and Small Cell Deployments
    Cellular towers were once proprietary, before carriers partnered with infrastructure owners. Will the neutral host infrastructure also take over small cells and 5G?

Register, for FREE, for Digital Infrastructure Investment.

Editor’s Note: The original post on the Digital Infrastructure Investment conference was published on February 27, 2020; This post was updated on April 28, 2020, and on May 17, 2020.

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.

Open Access

Financing Mechanisms for Community Broadband, Panel 3 at Digital Infrastructure Investment

Panel 3 video. Join the Broadband Breakfast Club to watch the full-length videos from Digital Infrastructure Investment.

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Video from Panel 3 at Digital Infrastructure Investment: Kim McKinley, Chief Marketing Officer, UTOPIA Fiber, Jeff Christensen, President & CEO, EntryPoint Networks, Jane Coffin, Chief Community Officer, Connect Humanity, Robert Wack, former Westminster Common Council President and leader of the Open Access Citywide Fiber Network Initiative, and moderated by Christopher Mitchell, Director, Community Broadband Networks, Institute for Local Self-Reliance

For a free article summarizing the event, see Communities Need Governance Seat on Broadband Builds, Conference Hears: Communities need to be involved in decision-making when it comes to broadband builds, Broadband Breakfast, November 17, 2022

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Open Access

In Video Session, Christopher Mitchell Digs Into Community Ownership and Open Access Networks

The conversation dealt with open access networks, and whether cities are well-suited to play a role in developing them.

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Screenshot of Christopher Mitchell, director of the Community Broadband Networks Initiative at the Institute for Local Self-Reliance.

September 29, 2022 – Community-owned, open access networks protect communities against irresponsible network operators and stimulate innovation, said Christopher Mitchell, director of the Community Broadband Networks Initiative at the Institute for Local Self-Reliance, at a Broadband.Money Ask Me Anything! event Friday.

“AT&T, Frontier, these companies have a history of failing to meet community needs,” said Mitchell. “If I had a choice between open broadband fixed wireless and fiber from AT&T, I’d be really, you know, checking it out.”

“[AT&T] is a company that will sell your data at the first opportunity, it’s a company that will raise your bill every chance it gets,” Mitchell added.

ILSR’s director said that in communities in which local ownership isn’t possible, such as in a town with a deeply corrupt government, there still exist contractual provisions that can maximize local control.

A right of first refusal, for instance, gives communities the option to purchase their local network if the original provider chooses to sell. Mitchell also suggested communities write performance-based contracts that institute penalties for network partners who fail to meet clearly outlined performance benchmarks.

Conversation entered realm of open access discussion

The wide-ranging conversation also dealt with the issues of open access networks, and whether cities are well-suited to play a role in developing them.

 “The cities are the custodians of their rights of way – they need to be, they must be,” said Drew Clark, editor and publisher of Broadband Breakfast. Because of the cities inherent role as custodians of their rights of way, Clark said that open-access networks provide cities with the opportunity to own the infrastructure portion of their broadband networks, while still offering private companies the ability to serve as network operators or application service providers.

Mitchell agreed that open access networks can be critical to broadband innovation. “We need to have millions – ideally tens of million – of Americans in thriving areas that have open access to kind of see what we can do with networks,” he said.

“Maybe a lot of those ideas won’t work out, but I think we don’t want to foreclose that path.”

In addition to overseeing digital infrastructure projects, communities can promote digital equity by utilizing established, trusted community-based institutions – such as food pantries or faith groups – to boost digital literacy and distribute devices, Mitchell said.

Mitchell added that these efforts must be ongoing: “This is more about building connections now.”

Broadband.Money is a sponsor of Broadband Breakfast.

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Funding

Anticipating Launch, Yellowstone Fiber to Seek Federal Funds for Rural Broadband

With service beginning in late September, non-profit fiber ISP aims to serve rural Gallatin County

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Photo of Greg Metzger in July 2022 from Yellowstone Fiber

BOZEMAN, Montana, July 27, 2022 – Officials at the non-profit internet entity Yellowstone Fiber announced Thursday that they would pursue federal broadband funding to expand network construction in rural areas of its footprint in Montana.

Because every state is poised to receive a minimum of $100 million to expand broadband infrastructure under the bipartisan Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act, officials at Yellowstone Fiber believe they are well-suited to obtain funding to connect homes, businesses, farms, and ranches to high-speed fiber internet in the sections of the Montana’s Gallatin County north of Bozeman.

Although Yellowstone Fiber is just going live with its first customers in September – and began offering pre-sales in late July – the new fiber entity believes that the availability of funding through the Broadband Equity, Access and Deployment program of IIJA offers a unique opportunity.

As with all states, Montana will receive a minimum of $100 million to expand high-speed broadband infrastructure to the nearly one-third of state residents who currently lack access.

Speaking about the impending launch of services on Yellowstone Fiber, CEO Greg Metzger said, “This is an important milestone for Yellowstone Fiber and we’re enormously excited to announce we’ll have the network live in a matter of weeks.”

“For decades, people in rural Montana have been limited by slow and expensive internet service and empty promises by cable providers. Today’s announcement signals we’re serious about connecting rural Gallatin County to high-speed fiber and the limitless possibilities that it brings,” he said.

Yellowstone Fiber is building an open access network, which means that Yellowstone builds, owns, and operates the fiber infrastructure, then leases space on its high-speed fiber to service providers, including Blackfoot Communications, Skynet Communications, Global Net, TCT and XMission.

In an interview, Metzger touted the role that open access networks play in enabling free market competition, including better prices, service, and reliability.

Metzger, an entrepreneur who previously manufactured plastic deposit bags for banks, sold that business and bought a furniture company in Montana.

Although he said he would rather be playing golf, when he stumbled across a new funding mechanism, he decided to create a non-profit entity designed to serve his community with fiber optic network services.

Yellowstone Fiber was formerly Bozeman Fiber, and was created in 2015 as an economic development initiative to address the lack of true high-speed broadband in Gallatin County, Montana.

A group was formed including the City of Bozeman, Gallatin County, the Bozeman School District and business leaders and funded by eight banks with a Community Reinvestment Act-designated loan.

This $4,000,000 was used to create a fiber ring connecting anchor tenants including the city, county and the school district, and also servicing the Cannery district and downtown Bozeman.

Anchor operations began in the fall of 2016, and commercial operations in February 2017. In 2020, the network formed an operational partnership with Utah-based UTOPIA Fiber to bring fiber-to-the-home services to every address in Gallatin County.

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