Community Broadband Initiative

What are we doing?

Joint Venture’s Community Broadband Initiative (CBI) is a coalition between academia, residents, local governments, businesses, and the communications industry. Together, we are working to improve affordable gigabit broadband infrastructure in under-served Silicon Valley neighborhoods. CBI will pioneer a new partnership-driven model for financing, installing, and operating open source broadband networks and services.

Focus areas

The Community Broadband Initiative is working with the community to:

  • Provide open source hardware & software
  • Empower rural and under-served communities
  • Champion digital inclusion, including public wireless, point-to-multipoint, and community-owned broadband

Our strategies

  • Expand coalition by encouraging dialog between local governments, businesses, residents, and academia. Create coalitions to help build human-centric, smart city systems that solve problems and create efficiencies. Determine areas where scale can be realized through partnerships. Lead those partnerships in tactical ways.
  • Utilize open-source hardware and software to drive down deployment costs by leveraging accessible low-cost solutions via commodity and readily-available hardware
  • Facilitate participation and reuse by everaging efforts of early adopters to learn and teach a wider community.
  • Build for sustainability by driving long-term success through the encouragement and participation of invested users and customers. Avoid creating systems that result in "digital welfare." Train users to self-support, and encourage small businesses.

Why are we doing it?

Despite massive investment in broadband, many areas of Silicon Valley remain under-served, creating a broadband gap. As the region's economic boom continues, people seeking housing are forced to move away from city centers, but in doing so they often must give up access to fast and reliable connectivity. Recent developments in hardware and software will enable neighborhood and community groups to obtain and deploy their own broadband networks.

Who's involved?

Joint Venture Board Champion: Susan Ellenberg, Santa Clara County Board of Supervisors

Our project is guided by a Steering Committee consisting of:

  • County of San Mateo - Ulysses Vinson (Dir, SMC Labs), Benny Lee (Dir, Public Wi-Fi)
  • City of San Leandro - Tony Batalla (CTO & Head of IT), Richard Brennan (HOA President)
  • City of East Palo Alto - Kamal Fallaha (Dir Public Works), Jerry Chang (FUSE Executive Fellow )
  • Town of Woodside - Kevin Bryant (Town Manager)
  • Telrad Networks - Yishai Amsterdamer (GM Broadband)
  • Next Level Networks - Darrel Gentry (CEO)
  • Purdue University - David Broecker (CIO Purdue Research Foundation), Jonny Park (CEO WHIN)
  • Sectigo - Damon Kachur (VP, IoT Solutions)
  • SBA Communications - Piyush Raj (Managing Dir, Connected Venues)
  • Facebook - Moe Motamedi (Telecom Infra Project)

What are the latest developments?

  • Supported the City of East Palo Alto's CBRS + Wi-FI deployment with SmartWave LLC. CBRS network completed in August 2020. Analytics platform completed in September 2020.
  • Identified Ballast Networks to support the Heron Bay (San Leandro CA) HOA broadband and security solution. Initial walkthough and analysis is completed.  Project was presented to community.
  • Ongoing: Co-chair the Agriculture-Rural SuperCluster for Global City Teams Challenge (a NIST-led project) with planning and focus on: Smart Agriculture, Farm Field Mapping, Rural Broadband, and Telehealth. 
  • Advised the Town of Woodside and residents on bringing broadband to their community via discussions with potential partners Next Level Networks, AT&T, and Crown Castle.
  • In conjunction with the Wireless Communications Initiative, released two concept papers in June 2020:
  • In conjunction with the Wireless Communications Initiative, developed a proposal for the Santa Clara County Office of Education to provide strategic action planning for implementation of broadband networks to underserved communities for distance learning, telehealth, and digital inclusion.  First year project completed in August 2021, extended contract for one year to serve additional schools and districts.

What are the next steps?

  • Pursue additional funding through grant opportunities.
  • Expand on success model of work completed in County of San Mateo, City of East Palo Alto, Town of Woodside, Santa Clara County, and others.
  • Continue work with the Rural/Agriculture Supercluster via NIST's Global City Teams Challenge.

Where do I find out more?

To learn more about the Community Broadband Initiative, to request a briefing, or to inquire about membership please contact:

Dr. Mohammad Shakouri

Community Broadband

Joint Venture's Community Broadband Initiative is focused on enabling local community and neighborhood groups in un-served and under-served regions of the Silicon Valley.

Community Broadband Partners

  • County of San Mateo
  • City of San Leandro
  • City of East Palo Alto
  • City of Morgan Hill
  • Telrad Networks
  • Next Level Networks
  • Purdue University
  • Microsoft
  • Sectigo
  • SBA Communication

Community Broadband Drivers

81% of US residents live in urban areas, and this will rise to 87% by 2050. (Source: United Nations Department of Economic and Social Affairs, 2014)