Spring Assembly: Broadband Everywhere Town Hall Meeting

Carol Barta | NCKLS | Apr 19, 2012

Kaned is going away and there are rural communities in Kansas that do not have ANY commercial providers available.  Senate Bill 2390.  Conference Committee consists of top three advocates and top three opponents.  Senator Apple is from Louisburg – is “wicked awesome” according to Kiersten Allen.

Possibility of losing Kaned funding right away.  Content has already been removed, but money has been put into the State Library Budget to fund databases.  Topic at the Advocacy Council is quality control – NOC calls immediately – but can you get equally good oversight from commercial providers?

Video network will be maintained

Kaned funded through the Kansas Universal Services Fund ($64 million a year) – and Kaned funding went from $10 to $6 million.  The rest goes to the providers across the state by formula (proprietary info)…in part to regulate the cost of providing telephone and internet to very rural areas.  Money is waiting to be spent – will it go to the ISPs or back to the public?

Bottom line is:  Have to budget for the cost of Internet, as Kaned T1s are going away.  The National broadband plan will also change how the federal Universal Services Fund is distributed.  Some companies are worried (rural utilities service) because the funding they receive may change.  New rules – more of the money will go to Urban areas.  Prepare for Change (e-rate may change)…and costs may change for business customers.  Internet is going to COST MORE.  Ugh and we are not in control of the situation.

Budget in the entire amount, if you get refunds from e-rate – great – if not, you are still covered.

What to do?

  • Lobby for Internet Service and Library Services
  • Find ways to involve the community in solving this problem
  • Grant provided to each system to educate/advocate for Broadband – NCKLS worked with KSU Institute for Civic Discourse and Democracyto develop Town Hall meetings
    • Governor’s Town Hall meeting on Childhood poverty (in the news)
    • Opportunity to get together and discuss/solve/learn more about issues

Town Hall Meetings:

  • Start with a video describing the issue and needs
  • Handout with terms, libguide info and key players
  • Send out a press release and work with the Libraries to advertise
  • Ground Rules for Public Discussion – for example:  seek understanding and common ground | Listen respectfully | Stay focused on the issues – and ask for agreement
  • Facilitators and note takers at each table.
  • Questions: How do you use the Internet today? | Are your needs being met? | What do you think you will do with Internet in Five years? | How do we define the Internet?  Is it a utility like Rural Electric or is it a luxury, not a basic service? (ISP’s were the ones to say Internet is a luxury!!!) | How do we pay for it? | So What, Where do we Go from Here??
  • Everyone is given the opportunity to talk
  • Lead to very interesting (and entertaining) conversations – most came to the conclusion that there will need to be a Public/Private partnership…and the public part will need to be more than just the local city budget.
  • Encourage competition in communities, some communities are considering building their own ISP – maybe with a private partnership.  Chanute has done this.  Hillsboro is considering.
  • Some communities have continued and hosted several Town Hall Meetings (Abilene and Marysville)
  • Finish the sentence, “I will…”

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