Residents of West Springfield, Massachusetts will be voting on a plan to build a municipal fiber utility in their town, operated in partnership with another public provider.
If authorized by voters on November 8th, the town would build a "municipal light plant" to bring fiber optics to every home and business. Under Massachusetts law, a "light plant" is considered to be either a municipal electric or telecommunications utility.
The town would be partnering with Whip City Fiber for operations of the network. Whip City is part of fellow municipal Westfield Gas and Electric. Several other Massachusetts communities have built fiber over the years, including CBAN provider member Shrewsbury Electric and Cable Operations (SELCO).
CLICK HERE for more details on the West Springfield, MA project.
The Community Broadband Action Network (CBAN) has been awarded a grant in the amount of $380,591 through the National Digital Inclusion Alliance (NDIA) to provide digital equity education and resources to communities in rural Iowa.
The grant is part of a $10 million investment from Google.org to establish a national Digital Navigator Corps. It supports the hiring and establishment of 18 community-based digital navigators across the country for three years, through August 2025. CBAN was chosen from dozens of applicants nationwide.
“The NDIA and Google understand that areas with lower population density are the most vulnerable to being left on the wrong side of the digital divide,” said Jon Anne Willow, CBAN co-founder and President. “This program is a great start in terms of closing that gap.”
NDIA sub-grantees, including CBAN, will receive programmatic and technical support to further develop NDIA’s digital navigator model for rural and Tribal communities. The program will help thousands of Iowa residents to gain much-needed access to the internet, devices, and digital skills training.
“The grantors have been very helpful,” said Todd Kielkopf, CBAN co-founder and Treasurer. “The NDIA is providing great programmatic support while still allowing us to work the way that’s best for our local communities.” Kielkopf will serve as Program Manager for Iowa’s Digital Navigator program.
Digital navigators are trusted guides who assist community members in internet adoption and the use of computing devices. Iowa’s digital navigator will provide one-on-one assistance with affordable internet access, device acquisition, technical skills, and application support, including for the Affordable Connectivity Program (ACP) broadband service subsidy.
“There are so many ways we’ll be able to help people, and having the program funded for three years shows Google and NDIA’s commitment to its success,” said Curtis Dean, CBAN co-founder and Vice President. “We are equally committed as CBAN expands its ability to educate, support, and serve communities across our nationwide member base."
CBAN is working to finalize the communities where the program will be enacted and hire a Digital Navigator. It is expected that Digital Navigator services will begin being offered in the target communities in January 2023.
The voters of Waterloo, Iowa have spoken, and by an overwhelming margin they have given the green light to a key financial component for their planned municipal fiber utility.
At issue in yesterday's referendum was whether or not the City of Waterloo should issue $20 million in general obligation bonds to help finance the planned $110 million fiber-to-the-home network. The City had already committed $9 million in funds from their American Recover Plan Act (ARPA) allocation toward the project. 84% of the voters in Tuesday's referendum said YES to the bond issue, which required 60% to pass. As a result, the network will lower overall interest costs by using some GO bonds, although city leaders say taxes will not need to be used to make those bond payments as revenues from the sale of services will be sufficient. City leaders say the project would still have proceeded even with the bond issue passage, but would have raised interest costs over the term of the financing.
The remainder of the funding for the project - approximately $80 million - will come from the sale of revenue bonds backed by the Waterloo Communications Utility.
Waterloo, Iowa will be the 29th city in Iowa to build a municipal communications utility. It will also become the largest city in Iowa served by municipal communications.
Iowa communities with municipal telecom (in alphabetical order)
Registration is open and the agenda has been finalized for the IAMU Fall Broadband Forum on October 24 and 25, 2022. This fall's event will be held in Waverly, home of Waverly Utilities.
Activities will begin at 3:30pm on Monday, October 24th when attendees can participate in a tour of the Waverly Utilities facility. A second tour opportunity will take place on Tuesday, October 25th. A member meet-up will take place after the tour at approximately 5:00pm at a Waverly restaurant to be determined.
On Tuesday the 25th, a series of informational sessions will be held in the Waverly Room at Waverly City Hall.
8:00am - Registration
8:30am - The Waverly Utilities Story
9:20am - Break
9:30am - Digital Inclusion
10:20am - Break
10:30am - 10G PON and Beyond - Preparing for the Future
11:20am - Break
11:30am - Smart Cities: Grids, Transportation, and Big Data
12:20am - Lunch featuring new ACA Connects Director Grant Spellmeyer
1:00pm - Broadband Funding in Iowa
1:45pm - Waverly Utilities Tour #2
Registration is $50 for IAMU members and $75 for non-members. You can register at www.iamu.org or by filling out the registration form in the flyer (CLICK HERE to download, PDF)
Broadband Bytes News
Presented by the Community Broadband Action Network and curated by Curtis Dean.