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Gigi Sohn on the fight for public broadband

Gigi Sohn, executive director of the American Association for Public Broadband (AAPB), explains why more communities are choosing municipal broadband networks, where they're succeeding and how AAPB is fighting opponents.

Diana Blass

February 1, 2024

At a Glance

  • Why communities opt for the municipal model (04:36)
  • How opposition to public broadband is playing out and who's behind it (07:54)
  • Examples of municipal and community broadband success stories (13:10)

In this interview with Light Reading, Gigi Sohn, executive director of the American Association for Public Broadband (AAPB), discusses municipal broadband networks in the US, including why and where they're popping up and which are most successful.

Sohn, a telecom policy veteran who withdrew her nomination to become an FCC commissioner last summer after a contentious confirmation battle, also explains how her organization is working to defend against efforts by incumbent service providers and "dark money" groups to derail community networks.

"What I find somewhat galling about some of the advocacy against public broadband is that it's not only a matter of 'I don't want you to compete with me.' It's like, 'I don't even want you to serve the places I don't want to serve'," says Sohn.

Here are some topics we cover:

  • What the AAPB does (02:10)

  • Why communities opt for the municipal model (04:36)

  • How opposition to public broadband is playing out and who's behind it (07:54)

  • Examples of municipal and community broadband success stories (13:10)

  • Sohn's reaction to those claiming municipal broadband is a failure (15:58)

  • How public broadband factors into the federal government's Broadband Equity Access and Deployment (BEAD) program (21:03)

  • How to join the AAPB (24:34)

Related:What you need to know about the municipal broadband debate

For a lightly edited transcript, click the caption button on the video player.

About the Author(s)

Diana Blass

Light Reading Contributor

Diana Blass is an investigative journalist whose work has been featured across a variety of television and digital platforms, including CBS News, Fox News, Fox Television Stations, Discovery Channel, Informa media brands, CRN (owned by The Channel Company) and The Six Five. She previously co-founded a documentary service (Kurrant Insights, now “Kurrant”) that catered towards professionals within the IoT enterprise market.

Diana has a unique background that combines production (in-front and behind the camera) and executive experience, which together have given her a deep understanding into the evolution of the broadcast market and the rise of digital platforms.

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