While a few tweaks are expected to be made over the next week or so, the agenda for the 2019 IAMU Municipal Broadband Conference is set.
Wednesday, March 13, 2019
Day 1 of the Conference will feature all concurrent (breakout) sessions. A total of 10 sessions on a variety of topics will be held in the Minnesota and Wisconsin Rooms on the lower level of the Holiday Inn and Suites. Day 1 also features our annual Vendor Show. As of this writing, 24 vendor tables have been reserved. A special thank you to our Presenting Sponsor, Power & Tel and our Gold Sponsors, Calix, Bear Communications, and ADTRAN.
Wednesday also features our Customer Service Boot Camp, a separate day-long training designed to sharpen the skills of your customer contact personnel. It's a great training at a great price...don't miss out on this opportunity to help your team improve their customer relations' skills!
Thursday, March 14, 2019
Day 2 of the Conference features a mixture of general and concurrent sessions. A highlight is the presentation of the 2nd Annual IAMU Broadband Vanguard Awards, recognizing persons or organizations that have worked to make municipal broadband in Iowa a reality. The Awards will be presented during lunch on March 14th.
Don't Delay...Register Today!
Save us a bit of heartburn and register early for the Conference. It really helps to have firm numbers at least a week ahead of time to make final arrangements with the hotel for food and beverage. Plus, if you wait you might miss out on the amazing $65 per night room rate we have with the IAMU room block at the Holiday Inn & Suites. We had attendees who registered late last year and had to pay the normal rate of over $100, so take advantage of the discounts that we've arranged for.
Registration is available exclusively on the IAMU Events page of the website.
Arkansas's status as one of the states with tight restrictions on municipal broadband is coming to an end. A bill lifting the a prohibition on municipal networks is headed to Governor Asa Hutchinson's desk after passing the state's House of Representatives and Senate this week. Hutchinson is expected to sign the bill into law.
The move in Arkansas is a refreshing change of pace from efforts over the past several years (supported, of course, by entrenched incumbent providers) to ban or severely restrict municipal networks.
You would think that a state capitol with a population of over 200,000 people would be among the "haves" when it comes to superior broadband. Well, that's apparently not the case in Boise, ID.
As this article in the Idaho Statesman outlines, Boise suffers from the same type of duopoly that many medium-sized cities do. A single incumbent phone company (CenturyLink) and a single incumbent cable company (CableOne) have few incentives to upgrade their facilities to meet the community's needs.
Fortunately Boise has an example to follow in its own state. Ammon, Idaho has invested in a community-owned fiber network that's bringing consumer choice in advanced services for the first time in that much smaller community.
CBAN Provider Member ALLO Communications has finished primary construction of its fiber-to-the-home network in Lincoln, Nebraska. The project began in March 2016 and was made possible in part by a partnership with the City of Lincoln, which gave ALLO access to the city's existing network of fiber and conduit.
“ALLO, in partnership with the City, has made Lincoln a national leader in internet speed, which makes our great city even more attractive to those looking to live and do business here. I want to again thank ALLO for this tremendous investment, which truly represents an investment in the future of Lincoln.” -- Lincoln Mayor Chris Beutler
ALLO President Brad Moline will be sharing his company's experiences during the CBAN Community Broadband Summit on March 12, 2019. He will be on a panel discussion, "Partnering for Progress", along with Dave Fyffe with ImOn Communications. That session will be held at 11:00am at the Summit.
Hint hint: Register to attend the CBAN Community Broadband Summit. Admission is FREE but registration is required. CLICK HERE to order your tickets!
In a recent guest opinion published several newspapers around the state, former Iowa legislator Chip Baltimore used several tired (and untrue) arguments against municipal broadband. Baltimore, who did not run for re-election in 2018, is now a Senior Fellow for the Taxpayers Protection Alliance. That group has been running anti-municipal editorials and opinion pieces around the nation this year, including one criticizing plans for a municipal fiber network in Traverse City, Michigan.
In a fantastic response, Osage Municipal Utilities Manager Josh Byrnes countered Baltimore's claims and dispelled many of the myths that the Taxpayers Protection Alliance has been promoting. Here's an excerpt from Byrnes' guest column:
"There are significant advantages community-owned utilities have when implementing rural broadband access. Community-owned utilities already have established relationships with their customers and can communicate with them directly and in a timely manner. The employees are the friends and neighbors of the community and serve with a sense of purpose." -- Josh Byrnes, Osage Municipal Utilities General Manager
Brynes' insight on the issue of municipal broadband comes not only from his experience as manager of a community-owned utility. He also served in the Iowa Legislature prior to taking on the manager position at Osage.
Thank you to Josh for setting the record straight!
Providers, community representatives, broadband advocates, and solutions providers will gather in Des Moines on March 12th for the 2nd Annual Community Broadband Summit, presented by the Community Broadband Action Network (CBAN).
Registration is free to CBAN members (and CBAN membership is also free for providers, communities, and advocates). CLICK HERE to reserve tickets for the Summit. If you'd like to join CBAN, CLICK HERE.
Program and Agenda
9:00am – 9:30am
Registration and Networking
9:30am – 10:15am
Developing a Community Broadband Strategy
(Moderator: Jon Anne Willow, CBAN. Panelists: Ken Demlow, HR Green; Todd Kielkopf, Kielkopf Advisory Services; Curtis Dean, SmartSource Consulting)
Your community is suffering from inadequate broadband services. Maybe the internet’s too slow; maybe the service is unreliable due to aging infrastructure or neglect. Maybe citizens are fed up with long wait times for repairs and poor customer service. You want something better. You need a strategy for how to get there. During this panel discussion, we will talk about steps your community can take to develop a broadband strategy from people who’ve helped communities in those efforts.
10:15am – 11:00am
Networking and Vendor Tables
11:00am – 11:45am
Partnering for Progress
(Moderator: Curtis Dean. Panelists: David Fyffe, ImOn Communications; Brad Moline, Allo Communications)
During this panel discussion, we’ll talk about some of the potential partnerships that communities may be able to leverage to improve broadband services.
11:45am – 1:00pm
Lunch & Speaker
Rural Economic Development and Broadband
(Bill Menner, The Bill Menner Group)
Economic development leaders in rural areas are faced with many challenges in maintaining economic vitality and growth. For many small towns, inadequate broadband is identified as a key barrier. Bill Menner, former Iowa Rural Development Director for the USDA, will discuss the vital link between broadband and the economy in rural America.
Networking and Vendor Tables
Sustaining Momentum for Community Broadband
(Kurt Karr, iVinton and Monkeythis)
The election to form a communications utility can be challenging, but looking back, it seems like running a sprint at a track meet -the goal is defined and the way is clear. The year, or two, or three it takes to get the utility designed, funded and built is like running a marathon through a jungle full of wild animals. During this session I will share some of the successes, and a few of the mistakes we've made along our marathon journey.
Attendees will break into groups and make the rounds to different topic tables to discuss various aspects of better broadband.
3:00pm – 5:00pm
Networking and Vendor Tables
After years of advocacy by residents and careful study, a community-owned fiber network in Vinton, Iowa is finally moving forward.
On March 12th, the Vinton Municipal Electric Utility Board of Trustees, which also serves as the governing board for the communications utility authorized by voters in late 2015, voted 5-0 to approve bids totalling approximately $6.5 million for the FTTP project. Overall bids came in just under the original engineer's estimates.
Nearly 40 Vinton citizens attended the Board meeting, despite a winter storm that raged outside and closed major roads into and out of town. There were lots of smiling faces when the Board's unanimous vote was cast, followed quickly by excited determination to get started on all of the many tasks needed to bring the network online by the end of 2019 or early 2020.
The bids were accepted contingent to final financing details, which are expected to be wrapped up over the next several weeks. Central Cable Contractors will be the lead contractor for the outside plant. Construction is expected to begin in early summer, with the goal to have most of the feeder & distribution network completed by the end of year.
Feasibility studies have been completed, engineering and design has been conducted, and bids have been received. Now the only thing standing between the citizens of Vinton, Iowa and a community-owned fiber network is action by the Vinton Municipal Electric Utility Board of Trustees.
The VMEU Board meets February 12th to decide whether to accept bids on the nearly $9 million FTTH project. Engineering firm FARR Technologies (a CBAN member) developed the outside plant design in late fall and early winter, and bids were let in January. The low bids came in around $200 thousand below the engineer's estimate, with additional savings possible if VMEU accepts a later completion date.
The VMEU Board established an advisory committee to help with the process. That group has recommended that the bids be accepted so the project can move forward this spring and summer.
Baller Stokes & Lide, the Washington-based legal firm that provides support to many community broadband providers across the nation, has issued its annual compliance memos to provide regulatory guidance for small providers.
Broadband Bytes News
Presented by the Community Broadband Action Network and curated by Curtis Dean.