How Do We Keep Burlington Telecom Local?

Posted on CCTV.org on 9/19/14.

Many Burlington residents and activists are concerned about the City of Burlington’s plans to sell Burlington Telecom to a private entity by 2017. While the City is committed to BT as a driver for economic and community development, it currently has no specific plans to retain a meaningful ownership stake in the new entity. In an effort to jump start the discussion and engage the wider community, Burlington’s Access Management Organizations, Code for BTV and Keep BT Local will host a lunchtime presentation and discussion on Friday September 19th with Christopher Mitchell Director of the Community Broadband Networks Initiative for the Institute for Local Self Reliance. The talk is part of an on-going series of community discussions on how to maintain the public benefits of Burlington Telecom and preserve a meaningful public stake as the City of Burlington prepares BT on or before 2017.

Christopher Mitchell’s work focuses on telecommunications — helping communities ensure the networks upon which they depend are accountable to the community. He is a leading national expert on community broadband networks and speaks at conferences across the United States on the subject, occasionally to directly debate opponents of public ownership.

He was honored as one of the 2012 Top 25 in Public Sector Technology by Government Technology, which honors the top “Doers, Drivers, and Dreamers” in the nation each year. That same year, the National Association of Telecommunications Officers and Advisors named ILSR the Broadband Organization of the Year. In 2011, that organization also honored Mitchell for his policy work.

On a day-to-day basis, Mitchell runs MuniNetworks.org, the comprehensive online clearinghouse of information about community broadband. In April, 2012, he published three in-depth case studies of citywide publicly owned gigabit networks, called “Broadband at the Speed of Light.” In April 2011, Mitchell released the Community Broadband Map, a comprehensive map of community owned networks.

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