National Community Wireless Summit



Robert W. McChesney - U of Illinois


Harold Feld

Changing the World on Five Minutes a Day

Policy discussion on FCC

Dinosaurs die hard. Similar to mid 90s. Tragedy of the 90s...

Technology doesn't want anything.

Tools for good or whatever.

It could go either way in Washington DC

Licensees have adopted new strategy.

There side... lots of lobbyist..

What do we have?

Changing the world on 5 minutes a day.

We have full time jobs.

1) Recognition that we have to work together.

It's not one person, one conversation. Meeting with FCC people on a regular basis. Everybody has to comment on open FCC proceedings. Free up spectrum for community wireless. Each comment builds a record at the FCC. Our silence has an impact as well. The biggest fear our friends at the FCC is if there's a party and nobody shows up.

Find our voice.

It's *great* to have industry allies, but they can't be allowed to speak for us. If they do... then the backroom with Intel and Microsoft deal won't help except as an afterthought.

Find our voice. Here, Local, National. How to tell that story well? How to reach the people on the Hill. Policy makers are very open when people have something to say.

Leaders who should be part of this movement shrug their shoulders when the FCC does something we don't like.

Jim Baller

Community Broadband: The Struggle for Local Choice

Reminds him of the 1890s

Recognizing the importance of electrification

3000 communities developed their own electrical system.

Roughly 1000 communities sold their systems to private sector.

2000 are left in small, rural communities.

10K or less.

Some large public power SEATTLE, LA, JACKSONVILLE, ETC. Public could provide for themselves. Municipalized private power.

Fast forward a century.

Electrical utilities are massive uses of communication systems. Remote meter reading. As massive users they have infrastructure, relationships, ethics.

Bandwidth Comparisons By Jonathan Moore formerly GC PUD, WA Chart

600k - 3Mbs Telco/Cableco

Things get interesting at 100Mbs

Public utilities with fiber are at Gig-E

We need to be there. Not going to get there if we wait for the private sector to get there.

Where are we today in community broadband?

Surge of interest over the last few years. Lots of models.

Fiber, wireless where fiber is not feasible.

Birdseye View of Legal Issues

Federal law does not authorize communications. That's in the states and local governments. Laws very different from state to state.

The Missouri Case

No effect in most states

Existing barriers stay in effect (bur read them with care!)

New proposed state laws and challenges before PSCs

Vicious local campaigns (

New federal legislation?

"The very fact that a community can, by vote of the electorate, create a utility of its own, will, in most cases, guarantee good service and low rates to its population. I might call the right of the people to own and operate their own utility a birch rod in the cupboard, to be taken out and used only when the child gets beyond the point where more scolding does any good." --Franklin D. Roosevelt, Portland, OR (1932)

Cable investing $85 billion Telecoms invested billions for DSL. To improve the copper plant.

Yesterday's technology, tomorrow.

Fiber systems are where we need to be to compete internationally.

But, community wireless systems can now be built to give as much bandwidth as like the private sector invested to do the same in their copper plant.

As this movement takes shape will the private sector say... this is OK with us?

Will just having a justification for community wireless get us that far? Nah.

It's not that difficult for people to understand that what we're trying to do is good for the public. It's not hard for them to understand that when a local government looks at a fiber system it looks like a public utility. It'll pay for itself over time. An infrastructure project that doesn't have to have a 20 year period. The private sector can't look that far ahead.

Education, opportunity, quality of life... Last 100 years... we have an ideological divide. The private sector says we're built on private enterprise... Profit based country... it's unfair for the local governments to do private sector stuff. A 100 year argument.

No rational argument.

We get mileage when we say "economic development, jobs, sectors of city not being served, ending the digital divide. Life long occupational opportunity. Narrowing the educational divide.

Private sector wins arguments with legislators when enterprise is unfair competition from public.


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