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Featured Article, ILSR Press Room filed under Broadband | Written by Lisa Gonzalez | No Comments | Updated on Jan 15, 2015

National Press Follows President Obama to Cedar Falls, Iowa

The content that follows was originally published on the Institute for Local Self-Reliance website at http://ilsr.org/national-press-president-obama-cedar-falls-iowa/

On January 14th, President Obama visited Cedar Falls, Iowa, to share his strategy to expand high-speed connectivity to more Americans, encourage competition, and galvanize economic development. Obama’s plan centers around community networks and he announced that the next step will be eliminating barriers in 19 states that usurp local authority to invest in publicly owned infrastructure.

From his remarks [C-SPAN Video below]:

Today, I’m making my administration’s position clear on community broadband. I’m saying I’m on the side of competition. And I’m on the side of small business owners… I’m on the side of students and schools. I believe that a community has the right to make its own choice and to provide its own broadband if it wants to. Nobody is going to force you to do it, but if you want to do it, if the community decides this is something that we want to do to give ourselves a competitive edge and to help our young people and our businesses, they should be able to do it.

The Obama Administration, through the Department of Commerce, recently sent a letter [PDF] to Chairman Wheeler to request the FCC use its authority to end state barriers that block local public investment. The Hill noted the letter and the President’s speech together put gentle pressure on the FCC to take steps to restore local authority. The Hill also gave space to the cable industry, naturally opposed to restoring local authority after millions of lobbying dollars invested in passing anti-competitive legislation.

InfoWorld also pointed out cable industry opposition to the Obama proposal, noting that they were ready to mount a strong offense and will likely join Congressional Republicans to fight any roll-back of state barriers. A decision from the FCC on whether or not to change state laws in North Carolina and Tennessee is expected in February.

As for the incumbents, there was no love lost between the President and the big players, asMultichannel News reported:

He said in many places big companies are “doing everything they can to keep out new competitors.”

…they were at the whim of whatever Internet service provider happened to be around, and and when they had problems they got stuck on hold watching a spinning icon, waiting and waiting and waiting and wondering why rates keep getting “jacked up.” Ouch.

Other national outlets that covered the speech included the New York Times, the Washington Post,Ars Technica, Fierce Telecom, and NexGov. We came across so many stories we stopped counting.

Local coverage included stories from the Sioux City Journal, the Quad City Times, the Gazette, and the Waterloo Cedar Falls Courier. Mayor Jon Crews told the Courier:

“This is good for attracting companies that have higher wages for technical positions,” Crews said. “Obviously to be recognized by Google and the president of the United States in two months time is pretty awesome.”

As the President noted in his speech, Google named Cedar Falls the best city in Iowa for e-commerce due to its municipal fiber optic network.

Marc Reifenrath, local business owner of a web design, development and digital strategy agency called Spinutech introduced the President:

In our early years it would have been easy to move our headquarters to another city, really anywhere. Thanks in part to its high speed internet, Cedar Falls has always made it easy for us to grow our business. Today, Spinutech has clients in all 50 states and eight countries. In talking with these clients, time and again it is proven just how fortunate we are.

Whether or not local authority is restored in the 19 states in question, it is important that local communities remember the role of vision, which the President pointed out in his speech:

Now, in Cedar Falls, things are different. About 20 years ago, in a visionary move ahead of its time, this city voted to add another option to the market and invest in a community broadband network. Really smart thing you guys did. It was a really smart thing you guys did. And you’ve managed it right here at Cedar Falls Utilities. And then a few years ago, you realized that customers were demanding more and more speed. All the movies, all the increased data, Instagram — all this stuff suddenly is just being loaded up, and basically, you guys were like the captain in Jaws, where he said, “We’re going to need a bigger boat.”

 


A Transcript of the script is available at the C-SPAN video page in the transcript box below the video window.

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Featured Article filed under Broadband | Written by Christopher | No Comments | Updated on Jan 14, 2015

President Obama Speaks Against Barriers to Community Networks

The content that follows was originally published on the Institute for Local Self-Reliance website at http://ilsr.org/president-obama-speaks-barriers-community-networks/

When we started to hear rumors that the White House was investigating community owned networks, we were excited but not sure what to expect. I have to admit that seeing President Obama – the President of the United States – saying that Cedar Falls was smart to invest in themselves was much more powerful than… Continue reading

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Featured Article, Resource filed under Energy, Energy Self-Reliant States | Written by John Farrell | 2 Comments | Updated on Jan 6, 2015

The Three Biggest Solar Charts of 2014

The content that follows was originally published on the Institute for Local Self-Reliance website at http://ilsr.org/biggest-solar-charts-2014/

The rise of solar power allows a further democratizing of the electricity system, and these charts illustrate how 2014 was a banner year for solar, but particularly distributed solar power. Apologies for the re-post of these charts, but I wanted to do a year-in-review approach to these solar charts. First, the following chart shows that 2014… Continue reading

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Featured Article, Resource filed under The Public Good | Written by Rebecca Toews | No Comments | Updated on Jan 8, 2015

“The Secret Side of Global Trade” – David Morris, International Forum on Globalization

The content that follows was originally published on the Institute for Local Self-Reliance website at http://ilsr.org/the-secret-side-global-trade-david-morris-international-forum-globalization/

David Morris spoke at Riverside Church for the International Forum on Globalization in 1995 about local self-reliance and global trade. His words still ring true today. You can listen to the audio from the speech below, download it in your podcast player, or watch it on our YouTube channel. David Morris is co-founder of the Institute and… Continue reading

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Featured Article, Resource filed under Energy, Energy Self-Reliant States | Written by Rebecca Toews | No Comments | Updated on Dec 9, 2014

New Report: Beyond Utility 2.0 to Energy Democracy

The content that follows was originally published on the Institute for Local Self-Reliance website at http://ilsr.org/report-energy-democracy/

Exciting changes are on the horizon for our century-old utility structure as solar power, energy storage, and electric vehicles open new avenues for utility customers to produce their own power and control their energy use. Utilities are scrambling to remain relevant in this technological firestorm, and energy wonks are envisioning a new business model –… Continue reading