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Institute for Local Self-Reliance Seeks Intern

The Institute for Local Self-Reliance, a nonprofit organization in Minneapolis, seeks an intern for September-January. Focus is on providing preliminary research and support to our telecommunications and energy initiatives. Our organization has worked with communities for 40 years to strengthen local economies and retain strong decision-making at the local level.

Requirements:

  • Interest in Energy and/or Telecommunications policy
  • Strong computer literacy skills, comfort with online content management system
  • Willingness to try new ventures and to occasionally fail, with grace

We anticipate approximately 20 hours per week, with a flexible schedule. This is a paid position. Our office is in the Seward neighborhood in South Minneapolis, close to the U of MN East bank campus. Tasks include, but are not limited to:

  • Research selected energy and telecommunications topics online and via phone
  • Research journalists, administrative agencies, elected officials and relevant organizations for targeted outreach
  • Create, organize, or edit content for our websites including graphics
  • Update ILSR page on a weekly or bi-weekly basis
  • Help create email and social media templates for sharing our Energy and Telecommunications reports, graphics, etc.
  • Bill tracking

Please email info@ilsr.org with a resume and short cover letter.

Introducing David Collado

You will soon start seeing some stories by David Collado, under the byline "dcollado." David has been researching community owned networks with ILSR for the summer and will continue for a few more months. Here is some background biographical details on David.

David Collado is currently a JD candidate (2014) at Benjamin N. Cardozo School of Law. He is also working with ILSR as a research consultant on a project aiming to measure the economic impacts of municipal broadband networks.

David proposed this research project to ILSR after taking a telecommunications law course taught by Susan Crawford in which he wrote a paper titled "Overcoming Obstacles to Municipal Fiber Networks" which focused on debunking the policy rationales behind the many state laws restricting municipal broadband.

Through his school research, David became invested in the cause of municipalities' rights to provide critical infrastructure for their communities. In researching the state laws restricting municipal broadband, he found the type of injustice he went to law school to learn how to fight. David also believes that promoting municipal broadband can solve a host of problems including the digital divide, net neutrality, and monopolization of communications infrastructure, as well as spur entrepreneurship and innovation, his other main interests.

David's research with ILSR focuses primarily on exploring the various cost savings to governments, schools, businesses and residents that result from community owned broadband networks.

Our New Report Now Available for Your E-Reader

Our most recent joint effort with the Benton Foundation, Broadband At the Speed of Light: How Three Communities Built Next-Generation Networks, is now available for your e-reader:

On Amazon's Kindle

Barnes and Noble's Nook

Google Play

You can even find it for your iPad in the App Store

Each format is priced in the neighborhood of $2.99. As always, you can also find the report in PDF at no charge here.

We encourage you to support our work here at Muninetworks.org, save a tree, and get a copy of this compelling report.

Community Broadband Networks is Back Up

We apologize for the last week of glitches and errors you have been having in trying to use our site. Our thoroughly incompetent web hosts have been sacked and we have transitioned to a different hosting provider, which should be much better.

Some glitches are still being worked out, but we hope the site is generally around. For all your hosting needs, whoever you go with, don't make it Westhost.com

Government Technology's Top 25 Doers, Dreamers, and Drivers

We are honored to be named by Government Technology to be among the Top 25 Doers, Dreamers, and Drivers in the nation. We are passionate about the role local governments can play in expanding affordable, reliable, and high capacity connections to the Internet.

Perhaps that is too clinical. We love helping communities to solve their broadband problems locally.

We love finding new communities that have developed innovative solutions and then helping other communities learn from that approach.

We love finding ways to help schools and libraries get better broadband connections at lower prices.

We love seeing local businesses flourish because the community built infrastructure for itself that big cable and DSL companies neglected to provide.

Thank you, Government Technology and all the others who have helped us to be effective in this space. We look forward to continuing our efforts and building better networks.

Introducing Becca

Sharp-eyed readers may have noticed a new byline this week starting with the OpenCape post - ILSR welcomes back Becca Vargo Daggett. Becca is doing some research and writing for us that will show up on MuniNetworks.org and in upcoming publications.

Her bio:

Becca joined ILSR to work on American Voice 2004, then stayed on to develop the telecommunications initiative. After a detour into motherhood, eldercare, and financial services (she passed the coursework and exam for the CFP designation), she is delighted to be back and focused on the financial and economic considerations behind municipal broadband efforts.

Without's Becca's work, MuniNetworks.org would not be here. We are lucky to have her back!

Beyond Access: Owning Community Broadband Audio Discussion

Two weeks ago, I joined a conference call hosted by the Media Action Grassroots Network discussing community ownership of broadband networks.

In the last few years local communities, governments, non-profit organizations and neighborhood residents from across the U.S. have successfully launched community broadband initiatives. 54 U.S. cities own citywide fiber networks and another 79 own citywide cable networks. These local initiatives, in rural and urban areas alike, have served as community scale infrastructures that are sustainable and allow participation and decisionmaking on the most local level.

Community Broadband Research Position Available at ILSR

The Institute for Local Self-Reliance (ILSR), a small non-profit based in Minneapolis seeks a full-time employee to conduct public policy research in broadband/telecommunications. The position involves research, including conducting telephone interviews, writing, and creating online materials including charts/graphs, web pages, videos, infographics, etc.

Candidates need to be strongly self-directed, have a background in policy and economics, and have excellent communication skills. Candidates should be comfortable with graphic design or web design.

Interested candidates should submit a letter of interest, a resume, and three references with contact information to info@newrules.org. Applications received by January 27 will be given priority.

Salary: $28,000, plus benefits.

The Institute’s mission is to provide innovative strategies, working models and timely information to support environmentally sound and equitable community development. To this end, ILSR works with citizens, activists, policymakers and entrepreneurs to design systems, policies and enterprises that meet local or regional needs; to maximize human, material, natural and financial resources; and to ensure that the benefits of these systems and resources accrue to all local citizens.

The Telecommunications as Commons mission is to encourage broadband networks that are directly accountable to the community they serve. In order to ensure such accountability, we encourage ownership structures such as public ownership, cooperative models, and other nonprofit approaches.

Community Broadband Networks Launches New Theme

We're cleaning up our act with a new theme designed by Eric James. We hope you find the site more pleasant to use and will notify us if you find something amiss. Thank you.

Welcome, Mitch Shapiro

MuniNetworks.org is happy to welcome a new contributor to the site, Mitch Shapiro.  Mitch will author pieces from time to time, the start of our efforts to broaden the contributions to and reach of MuniNetworks.org.  If you are interested in contributing on a one-time or semi-regular basis, please let us know at broadband@muninetworks.org.

Mitch Shapiro has been an analyst, author and consultant in the telecom, media and broadband industries for more than 25 years. His interest in community-controlled networks dates back to his graduate school days at Michigan State University, which included two internship in Washington DC, the first helping to draft a manual for local communities wanting to deploy a cable TV cooperative, the second working for Intelsat, a cooperatively organized global satellite network. That interest remains strong today, and is informed by more than two decades of experience analyzing broadband technologies, business models, competitive dynamics and economic impacts.

Mitch currently serves as CEO of Broadband Market Analysis, a research and consulting firm, and Rural Fiber Works, which supports cooperative and municipal utilities in developing strategies for open-access community fiber networks. He is also a consultant with Strategic Networks Group, a leader in helping public and private entities understand and maximize the economic benefits of broadband networks.

Throughout his career, Mitch has been a leader in recognizing and projecting the impacts of key industry developments. In the mid-1980s, as Research Director of the Michigan Citizens Lobby, he managed a statewide study of the impacts of the AT&T divestiture on Michigan’s low-income households. In the late 80s and early 90s, as lead technology analyst for Paul Kagan Associates, he was early to recognize the significance of the cable industry’s migration to the “hybrid fiber coaxial (HFC)” architecture, which enabled it to expand from a TV-only service to today’s “triple-play” of voice, video and Internet. Shortly after passage of the 1996 Telecom Act, Mitch authored a 375-page report published by Probe Research, which projected the financial impacts of the legislation on cable and telephone companies, including the role of then-emerging broadband and “triple-play” services, and the potential role of electric utilities in the changing communication market.

Mitch was also early to recognize the potential for bringing fiber to small towns and rural areas, as reflected in a 2001 column he wrote in Lightwave magazine entitled “Fiber to the Farm,” which examined the improving economics of rural fiber deployments and a pioneering open-access FTTH network in Washington state. 

In 2006, Mitch authored a 105-page report entitled Municipal Broadband: The Economics, Politics and Implications, which was published by Pike & Fischer. Two years later he co-authored the Municipal & Utility Guidebook to Bringing Broadband Fiber Optics to Your Community, published by the Public Technology Institute. Describing it as “the first comprehensive guide written for city, county, and utility officials,” PTI’s Executive Director Alan Shark highlighted the guidebook’s value in an opening preface:

This guidebook helps government leaders build a strong case for investing in an infrastructure that brings fiber-to-the-home services, through thorough analysis, interviews, and painstaking research. It sets forth strategies that, if followed, will help American communities whose broadband needs are not being met by current market dynamics to prosper in the information age.

Mitch holds a B.A. in Economics from the University of Michigan and an M.A. in Telecommunications from Michigan State University. His recent publications are listed here.