From a Need to a Necessity

by Stan Olochwoszcz, Coordinator, South Amboy Television

Once upon a time, on the banks of Raritan Bay in Central New Jersey, South Amboy Televison (SATV) was created to keep the residents of the City informed about what was happening in town.  The Government channel was a side-of-the-desk task assigned to Senior Services / Recreation. Initially a bulletin board comprising of white words on a blue background – pretty much the default screen configuration of a Videonics Titlemaker 3000 – and recordings of events such as the City’s well-known St. Patrick’s Day Parade and other events produced by volunteers using personal equipment started to appear sporadically.  The ebb and flow of municipal funding allowed for the progression to more sophisticated equipment. Over twenty or so years ago, the station was automated using a Leightronics Mini-T-Net connected to VCRs and DVD players.  That system required much manual manipulation, such as frequent visits to the station location to change tapes and disks.

A small group of folks offered to tend the station in exchange for use of space at the Senior Center to operate an “Internet radio station,” the idea being to offer local students a chance to learn some broadcasting skills.  Although intended as more or less a schools-based recreational club, meeting Board of Education requirements presented too much of a challenge at the time.  Technology and perspectives changing as they are wont to do, SATV was also faced with the reality of a lack of enthusiasm.  They had begun putting much of their own self-produced programming on YouTube, Facebook and the like.

Eventually, the Mini-T-Net outlived its usefulness, and it was replaced with a modest but more modern computerized Tightrope Media Systems Carousel Digital Signage and Cablecast Flex system.  SATV had gone digital! This stood the City in good stead when Superstorm Sandy wreaked havoc.  Although much of South Amboy was without electricity for as long as eleven days, SATV provided news and official information at various locations powered by generators.  For example, residents could simply look at a screen in the lobby of the Senior Center to learn what resources South Amboy had available.  The value of SATV as a community asset was amply demonstrated for that brief shining moment.

As the first TRMS system aged out, the Cablecast Flex-Lite 340 and Carousel Digital Signage Player 340 currently in use were purchased.  Space has been dedicated to a studio and control room at the Senior Center and a concerted effort has been made to obtain cameras and other equipment so local programs could be produced. SATV has also benefitted from hand-me-down equipment as a result of upgrades in the Council Chambers / Municipal Court.  Keeping  the various technological jimcraws and doodads acquired over the years talking to each other has been interesting, but programming efforts look promising.

Over the course of the years, The Mayor’s State of The City addresses have been broadcast, as have countless dedications, groundbreakings, fireworks and festivals.  We had always thought about putting recordings of Council and Agency meetings on the channel and it came to pass to some extent during the pandemic as experimental Zoom meetings were broadcast.  Of late, the channel is presenting video of popular non-profit organization events such as the Music at St. Mary’s Concert Series and the SA Arts Alliance’s Acoustic Fridays.  A staple of SATV has been Spooky Thriller Mystery Theatre, an admittedly cheesy nod to bygone Saturday matinees cobbled together from public domain short subjects, cartoons, and movies.  STMT has been well-received by other PEG channels since SATV joined JAG Online and started distributing it through the Media Exchange. The fifth “season” is currently in production.

As the second Tightrope system nears its end-of-life, changes in the City Administration have South Amboy TV adjusting its perspective in order to better define its capabilities.  A small but enthusiastic group of new volunteers is stepping forward.  New programming ideas are being encouraged.  Renovation of the studio space is proceeding.  SATV is still largely a Public Service Bulletin Board, only prettier. It is hoped that the momentum of the past several decades will propel South Amboy TV on Optimum 15 & Fios 35 toward the viable and useful community service that those involved have always hoped it would grow to be.

Federal Communications Commission Nominee – Take 2

by Dave Garb, Legislative Committee Chair

President Joseph Biden has renominated Gigi Sohn to serve as 5th FCC Commissioner.

Sohn, who was first nominated in October of 2021, had been opposed by certain corporate Democrats targeted by telecom lobbyists who pushed them to oppose her from joining the regulatory panel. and thus, Sohn did not have enough support the first time around.

Gigi Sohn

After the President’s re-appointment, digital and consumer rights advocates called on the U.S. Senate to swiftly confirm Sohn, a lawyer, public advocate, and longtime net neutrality defender to the Federal Communications Commission.

With the current 2-2 FCC makeup, the panel has been unable to vote on the protections.  This has undermined the agency’s ability to effectively address the Biden administration’s telecommunications priorities.  Sohn’s confirmation would give Democrats a 3-2 majority at the FCC, allowing them to challenge issues, such as reinstating the net neutrality rules, that the Republican-led FCC voted to repeal in 2017. 


  WASHINGTON, January 3, 2023—Federal Communications Commission 

Chairwoman Jessica Rosenworcel made the following statement at the start of the 118th Congress as President Biden nominated Gigi Sohn to serve as a Commissioner at the agency:

“I’m proud of the work the Commission has accomplished in the last two years.  Closing the Homework Gap, broadband access and affordability, telehealth, mapping, and network security are top priorities and we’ve acted accordingly.  Gigi is a knowledgeable nominee with a long record of commitment to the issues before the FCC and I congratulate her on nomination as a Commissioner at the agency.  I look forward to the day we have a full complement of five commissioners.”


WASHINGTON, January 4, 2023—FCC Commissioner Geoffrey Starks issued the following statement on President Biden’s nomination of Gigi Sohn to serve as Commissioner:

“As I said during the last Congress, Gigi Sohn is an accomplished leader whose talent, expertise, and experience will invigorate our work at the FCC.  I continue to hold that view.  Whether we’re protecting consumers, securing our networks, or bringing the promise of new technologies.

Sohn’s confirmation to the agency would help to push one of the campaign pledges made by the President: to reinstate the rules requiring that internet service providers treat all online traffic equally. 

Update on the Protecting Community Television Act

The Protecting Community Television Act did not get acted on during the last Congress even though it had the support of large contingent of Congressional members on both the Senate and the House sides.

This important legislation would have ensured that community television operations would have continued to receive the resources they needed to inform and educate their viewers in all the cities and municipalities where they operate.

Currently, as part of cable franchise agreements, local governments are permitted to require cable companies to meet community needs by providing in-kind contributions that benefit public, educational, and government channels (PEG), as well as schools and public safety buildings.

However, the FCC voted in August of 2019 to permit cable companies to assign a value to these contributions and then subtract that amount from the franchise fees they pay.

As a result, local governments were forced to make a hard decision between supporting their PEG stations in cable franchise agreements or supporting other important services.

Since its beginnings, community television has been a critical part of our local lives.  It has given a voice to artists, governments, nonprofits, and other community members who otherwise would have a difficult task in being heard.

The Protecting Community Television Act would have clarified that the franchise fees that cable companies provided to local governments would have only included monetary assessments and not in-kind contributions.

It will now have to be reintroduced in the new Congress and be re-sponsored in order for it to be bought up for action to have it voted on.

Lighting….. The Easiest Part of Creating an Alternative Media Space

by Paul Distefano, Northeast Regional Sales Manager, I Light USA Corp – DeSisti & Coemar USA

A few years ago, while still with a lighting system integration company, my boss introduced a new term to me….. the “Alternative Media Space”.  Basically, this was a place…. an office, a lobby, a conference room, a newsroom, a foyer…… anyplace that could be lit and used to record media.  These were rarely permanent installations.  Crews could come in, set up a couple of chairs, one or two cameras, shoot an interview or some other content, and leave…. closer to an ENG shoot than a studio production.  Given the choice, the one thing that our customers wanted to be somewhat permanent was the lighting.  This made sense.  If there were no need for stands and cabling, the overhead lighting was clean, efficient, and would allow a crew to come in and shoot on battery power and leave without even unspooling a cable.

Mini-LEDko Fresnel

I always thought this would be a great time saver for the PEG community.  If a space such as this could be set up in your municipal building, or other appropriate locations, would it make it easier to record announcements or interviews with your town’s administrators in a central location, rather than needing them to come to the studio or setting up and breaking down a remote?  I know that some of your studio facilities are in the municipal building, but I know that some are in a different location….. and some may not even have a studio! 

Mini LEDko Spot

Also, in the past, I had been asked about providing entertainment-type fixtures to record outdoor events.  More often than not, these took place regularly, and in a single location…… such as a park, in something like a band shell or gazebo.  Outdoor venues were always a challenge.  There were usually limited power sources requiring lots of cabling, creating trip hazards.  Lighting stands on uneven ground are always risky, especially tethered to power cables.  Add to this the crowds of people, especially children, and there are plenty of things to worry about on top of the quality of your production!

Mini LEDko Profile

Our Coemar line debuted some great solutions in November at the Lighting Dimensions show in Las Vegas.  Our new line of Mini-LEDkos provide great output at very low wattages, and are available in many configurations, including track-mount.  A variety of control options are available, such as on/off, on-board dimmer pot, DALI, Bluetooth, DMX and (soon) wireless DMX.  Inexpensive Smart Track can be easily and, unobtrusively, installed anywhere.  Fixtures can then be mounted anywhere along these tracks and provided with power and control.  These fixtures can be left there, or taken down after the shoot.  We even provide them in white, or in custom colors, to make them more architecturally pleasing.  If more power is needed, the DeSisti 3”, 4.7” Fresnel, as well as our SoftLED1 & 2 can also be track mounted.


For those outdoor venues, we now offer a small, 50W, IP65 rated ellipsoidal, the LEDko EXT-M.  This provides gobo projection, framing shutters, and a zoom optics in a compact, weather resistant housing in a much smaller, and less expensive package, than the full sized LEDko EXT.  All these new fixtures are available in various color temperatures from 2700° – 5000° K and in variable white from 2800° – 6000° K. I look forward to demonstrating these great new lights to you at the January JAG meeting.  My goal is to offer a solution you may not have considered before.  Let’s put our heads together and think outside the box……. Or in this case, outside the studio!

President’s Message: January 2023 – New Year, New Board Members and More

by Bob Duthaler

We are a couple of weeks into the new year of 2023 and it has already been a busy one for JAG, myself and, if I am guessing correctly, for you as well.  You know what they say, “No rest for the weary”.  But I think for all those involved in our industry, we thrive on this fast-paced environment and the lack of sleep as well!

We held our general elections in December 2022, and the JAG Board of Trustees held their reorganization meeting in January 2023. Here are the results of the board’s elections:

            Chair/President of JAG:  Bob Duthaler

            Vice-Chair:  Doug Seidel

            Treasurer:  Linda Besink

            Recording Secretary:  Anthony Pagliuco

            Corresponding Secretary:  Stephanie Gibbons

            Trustees:  George Fairfield, Dave Garb, Rick Gearhart, and Don Smith

During the JAG Board of Trustee’s Re-organization meeting the trustees did the following:

  • Reviewed Trustee Policies and Procedures for meetings and annual calendar
    • Reviewed Trustee Policies and Procedures for JAG Officers and Committees
    • Discussed Trustee Policies and Procedures for JAG Direction for 2023
    • Reviewed Finances, Funding and Budget for 2023.  In addition, the BOT voted to approve the 2023 budget as presented by the Finance Committee and sent it to Executive Board for approval.
    • Reviewed staffing for JAG, job evaluations and goals for 2023
    • Reviewed Policies and Procedures, and the structure for handling complaints
    • Set the tone for 2023 and will meet again in August during the Annual Board Retreat.

Following the adjournment of the JAG Board of Trustee’s Meeting, JAG’s Executive Board met.  Members are listed below:

            Bob Duthaler – President (Chair of Conference Committee)

            Doug Seidel – VP (Chair of Leadership Development Committee)

            Linda Besink – Treasurer (Chair of Finance Committee)

            Anthony Pagliuco – Recording Secretary (VC of Production)

            Stephanie Gibbons – Corresponding Secretary (Chair of Membership)

            Geoffrey Belinfante – Chair, External Relations

            Lee Beckerman – Chair, Production Committee

            Dave Garb – Chair, Legislative Committee

            Don Smith, Co-Chair of Conference Committee

            Rick Gearhart – Conference Committee Member

            George Fairfield, Chair of JAG Awards

During the Executive Board Meeting the following items were discussed:

  • Recruitment of new committee members from the general membership – getting new people involved with JAG
  • Updates from the following committees:  Legislative, Membership, Leadership Development, Conference and JAG Awards.
  • Executive Committee discussed the following:
    • General Meeting Dates for 2023
    • Manager’s Round Table Topics: First one is to be Thursday, February 9th @ 2pm
    • Future Webinars – no dates set yet
    • Commitment of Committees to contribute articles for newsletter
  • Finance Committee
    • Update on JAG 2022 Filing
    • 2023 billing underway
    • Reviewed 2022 Finances, Budget and Spending (All Under Budget!!)
    • Reviewed 2023 Proposed Budget
  • Production Committee
    • Discussed JAG Marketing Videos
    • Discussed JAG YouTube Account and JAG Streaming Channel
    • Discussed Future Projects – Training Videos
  • External Relations Committee
    • Reviewed JAG Website and Membership Only Area
    • Reviewed Vendor Presentations at upcoming meetings
    • Discussed the NJLM Conference Review and Planning for 2023
    • Discussed Newsletter
  • The Executive Board reviewed, voted on and approved the 2023 budget and sent it for First Reading at the January 25th General Membership Meeting.

I want to thank everyone for their time and commitment to the JAG Board of Trustees and JAG Executive Board.  I am aware of the time and commitment involved in your duties, between board meetings, general membership meetings and the multiple committees that most of you are all on as well.  This does not go unnoticed by me or the general membership as well.  For anyone who is interested in being part of the many JAG Committees, please reach out to me and I will help you get more involved: I would like to send thanks again to Dave Ambrosy who after 40 years in this industry retired at the end of 2022.  Dave leaves East Brunswick after serving as its station manager.  In addition, Dave was a JAG Trustee and Executive Board Member, serving on both the Production and Conference Committees.  Dave took on handling entertainment for the conference and even played with his band during one of JAG’s event.  The board and I wish him a happy and healthy retirement and thank him for his dedication to JAG

Beyond Cable: New Ways to Communicate with your Citizens

This session discusses the different media and strategies that municipalities can use to communicate with their citizens. Our panel of experts will delve into social media, over-the-top (OTT) options and platforms beyond Facebook and YouTube. Our panelists include JAG’s Executive Board members who utilize various media and platforms every day to amplify and share municipal information every day.

PEG Stations—Then, Now, and Into the Future

By Dave Ambrosy, Station Manager, East Brunswick

Some of you may remember starting out back in the day and the fun and excitement of creating new local programming. Discovering local talent in town to announce your sports coverage or become reporters and interviewing your neighbors so they can tune in to their cable channel and watch themselves. Convincing your mayor and council that yes, people will watch. Or maybe you remember the frustration of carrying those heavy cameras the size of a microwave and attached to an even heavier tape deck that recorded a whopping twenty minutes of footage on U-matic cassettes. If you were lucky, maybe you had a production assistant watching the audio meter and time remaining. The frustration of working all day on your deck-to-deck edit only to have the boss ask if you can add a section in the middle. Or hear the awful sound of the pinch roller crunching the tape sending the deck into warning. What is a pinch roller anyway???

For the most part everything was new and fun to figure out, like chroma-key for graphics, lighting techniques and wiring up multi camera shoots. A different production every day. Covering an elementary school class where kids say, “no one watches that channel,” followed by, “when is it going to be on?” Still makes me laugh.

I believe the purpose of your PEG channel is still the same today as it was back then. To get the township’s information out to the residents i.e., council and board meetings and in the meantime create a little fun so people want to watch. Something that hasn’t changed is just when you think you learned and mastered the format of the day, it all becomes obsolete, and you have to get ahead of the curve and learn what’s new and how to implement that technology to keep your station up to date. Going from large bulky cameras to PTZs, giant twenty-minute cassette tapes to SD cards the size of a stamp that record for hours, linear to nonlinear editing. Perhaps the biggest change is in content delivery. From manually hitting Play on a tape deck and flipping a switch to go live on your cable channel to scheduling files on a playback server to play anytime on multiple platforms.

Changes for the future remain to be seen but we all did a pretty good job adapting and changing our workflow through a pandemic where PEG channels became more important in their community than ever before. Funding may become a real issue should franchise fees and how they are determined change, but I think PEG access stations have a long and bright future if they stay true to their roots.  We have to look ahead and be ready as people change the way they consume media.   Today, people want to watch everything on their terms—when they want, on a device of their choosing.  Those of us working at PEG stations must embrace all new media technologies, those in place now and those that will come in the future in order to reach younger, more computer and internet savvy viewers.  The information and entertainment programming we produce must be available beyond our cable channels to people who have cut the cord.  We must be willing to incorporate all kinds of Over the Top (OTT) solutions to deliver our content to all our citizens, those with cable and those without.  The number of cord cutters is likely to grow, but PEG Channels still have something no other media entity has.  To quote my first boss who hired me, “We can get people to watch by giving them something the big networks can’t, and that’s themselves.”

You may have heard that I will be retiring at the end of 2022 after forty plus years in local TV.  WOW, how did that happen? Best wishes as you and I hope to watch the great work to come from the JAG membership.


by George Fairfield, JAG Awards Committee, Chair



December; what a wonderful time of the year; the winter solstice; the music; the lights; the food; and most importantly, everybody gathering together, sharing good tidings, warm embraces, and hunkering down around a video monitor agonizing over what to choose for the JAG Awards.

The JAG Awards Committee is excited to announce the JAG Awards will open for registration and submissions on January 1, 2023. 

The JAG Awards Committee has even more great news.  First and probably most important to everyone, all JAG members in good standing will, once again this year, be able to submit their first entry for free.

The other big news is that in an effort to even out the competition among the vastly different JAG stations, the committee has added more categories.  These 2023 JAG Awards categories will provide more opportunities for our members to enter and be honored for their hard work.

Here is a complete list of the categories:

101. Documentary:                                                       

201. Instructional/Training:

301. News Magazine:                                                    

401. Talk Show:

501. PSA: Public Service Announcement:                     

601. Promotion:

701. Sports Programming / Single Camera:     

801. Sports Programming / Multi-Camera:

901. Public Meeting / Single Camera:

1000. Public Meeting / Multi-Camera:

1100. Public Ceremony / Single Camera: 

1200. Public Ceremony / Multi-Camera: 

1300. Public Parade / Single Camera: 

1400. Public Parade / Multi-Camera: 

1500. Concert / Single Camera:

1600. Concert /Multiple Camera:

1800. Community Development Event: 

1900. Community Ground Breaking/Ribbon Cutting/Dedication: 

2000. Community Festival/Fair Event:

2100. Community Award Presentation:

JAG will also be awarding an overall high score to an Independent Producer and a Non-Profit organization.

With everything said, do you want to hear your station’s name announced after, “the winner is”?  Then you have to enter the JAG Awards.  You have to be in it to hear it (and win it). Good luck

Beyond Cable: New Ways To Communicate With Your Citizens

by Bob Duthaler, Executive Board, Chair

JAG held another session at the New Jersey League of Municipalities Conference this past November.  I was lucky enough to do this session with Geoffrey Belinfante.  Our goal was to illustrate the different emerging trends and communication tools to effectively engage residents beyond a traditional access channel.

In our presentation, we spoke about the following: 

•      Social Media Video Trends

•      Social Media Video Statistics

•      Cord Cutters

•      Power of Video Samples

•      Local Franchises and Statewide Franchises

•      Benefits of a Local Cable Channel for Municipalities

I am going to go through a few of these with you now, but I urge you to watch the video which will be linked at the end of this article to see all the topics we discussed, the video samples and the questions from folks just like you.


One of the latest and fastest growing trends is known as “Micro-Videos”: the rise of short video content and the platforms that cater to it (namely TikTok and Instagram Reels).  With our lives becoming increasingly more fast paced like the world around us, viewer attention spans are getting shorter and shorter, and the need for short, “snackable” content is getting bigger and bigger.  Because of this viewer viewing trend, we also need to think of ways to create video content that works well on TikTok and Instagram Reels.  TikTok was the most downloaded app in 2020 and 2021 and currently has 1 billion monthly active users.  According to a recent GenZ TikTok users survey, Instagram Reels is essentially interchangeable.  87% of them agreed with the statement “Instagram Reels is basically the same as TikTok”.  Plus, Reels receives 22% more engagement than regular video content.  2023 is the year for stations to start leveraging the power of TikTok, Instagram Reels, and easy-to-consume micro-videos in your video marketing strategy.  I am giving this much thought and plan on producing these short videos throughout the new year in 2023.


The vlog industry has been growing rapidly and will likely only continue to explode in 2023.  According to research, over 44% of Internet users watch vlogs every single month.  Vlogging is just continued proof of what marketers have known for years — storytelling is the best way to connect with your audience.  Through vlogging, you have the opportunity to position yourself (the creator, the brand, etc.) as the main character of your story, allowing your followers to connect and engage in a more personal way.  From a marketing point of view, this form of video is absolutely necessary if you want to maximize your success in 2023.  I believe this format does need some strategy and plan to make it a success, along with scheduled releases.

Live videos are still proving the way to go. 

During the pandemic, live videos skyrocketed in popularity with a lack of face-to-face interactions.  Live video became essential for hosting events and connecting with people in a time when our worlds became smaller than ever.  Even as we’ve begun to return to a more connected way of life the demand for live video content is only growing.  Users engage at a higher rate when the video content is live.

It can be even more effective if you announce your livestream beforehand and use your live video to make a big announcement or reveal.  We already began to master the art of going live, now it’s time to take it to the next level as a marketing tool.

Social Media Statistics.

In a recent report, Cisco reported that video would account for 82% of all online traffic by 2022.  Users engage at a higher rate when the video content is live.  On Facebook, statistics show that viewers will watch live videos for 3x longer than pre-recorded videos.  The average length of Facebook’s top 100 videos is 3 minutes and 23 seconds (Newswhip, 2020).  52% of American adults use Facebook to discover the latest news. (Forbes)

Here is an interesting fact for all of us video purists, users also like square videos – they are watched 35% more frequently than landscape ones.  But vertical videos are loved with 6-9 times more engagement than square videos. They also get 13.8% more visibility.  I’m still shaking after reading those statistics.  So how do we take advantage of that?  Sometimes the answer is in the promotion of an event….Going live on FB with a square or vertical video showing you setting up for an upcoming event, and even including a link in the post that will take viewers to your full live coverage later that can be in a glorious, 16:9 full HD format!

What about the cord cutters? 

We all know our priority is cable, the reason we have a channel.  But viewing habits continue to change and we need to satisfy all. In a CNN article in August 2022 the headline was:  The Cord Has Been Cut. Streaming is more watched than cable.  For the first time ever, Americans are watching more streaming TV than cable, according to a report from Nielsen. The milestone has long been expected as viewers change their viewing habits and ditch their pricey cable bundles for cheaper alternatives.  In July, streaming amounted to 34.8% in the share of total TV consumption, a growth of nearly 23% within the past year. Cable and broadcast viewership both dropped year over year, with the former amounting to 34.4% and the latter making up just 21.6%.  Both fell around 10% compared to July 2021.  I will add in my personal point on that one stat, there is now football (Pro or College) in July.  Cable sees a spike in viewing during football season.  So how do we keep up with cord cutters?  The good news is that Municipal Access Channels are now appearing on ROKU, Apple TV, Amazon Fire and other platforms as well.  (see my Wish List article for more thoughts on this).

I hope this article gives you pause to think about the various trends and ways to reach out to your community, get your message out there and broaden your reach beyond the cable channel.  The session was videotaped and will be available soon.

TWO “Calls To Action”

by Dave Garb, Legislative Committee Chair

Last month JAG, the Jersey Access Group, had the distinct pleasure of presenting a special joint session with the League of Municipalities at their annual conference.  It was on the Broadband Grants and Funding opportunities that was created from the Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act which was approved last year by the federal government.

Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act

Congress has approved $65 billion dollars to improve broadband deployment and adoption throughout the United States.  This funding will flow from the Federal Government to the states for distribution.  Our session helped communities to fully understand where that money is currently and how they will apply for it once it arrives.

Our panelists of experts included: Valarry Bullard, Broadband Advisor to Governor Murphy; India P. Still, Deputy Executive Director Administration – Atlantic City Municipal Utilities Authority; Joseph Rivera, Manager of Broadband Access – NJ BPU; Ken Fellman – Helmer, Conley & Kasselman, P.A.; Robert Boyle, CEO Planet Networks; Mayor Brian Wahler of Piscataway Township, and Bob Duthaler, President of JAG.

They all shared their wisdom on this subject by explaining what was happening, what this money should be used for, and how they may contribute in order to be in the discussions about acquiring a part of this money for their own town’s broadband needs.

BPU Broadband Assessment Survey

One of best ways to try and obtain your share of this money was brought up by Joseph Rivera of the New Jersey Board of Public Utilities.  Mr. Rivera mentioned that there is a survey going on right now to determine how the grants will be divided among our 564 municipalities as part of New Jersey’s Broadband Assessment Project.  The most notable part of this survey is that it needs participation from every citizen in every community.

What this money is supposed to do is help the unserved, underserved and community anchor institutions in order of to achieve statewide, 100% access to high speed internet service.  This includes senior citizens and those living in poverty.  So there is a great need to find out who and where these residents reside.

Please click on the link to participate in this survey.  Every voice is needed to help decide how the money will be distributed.

FCC National Broadband Mapping

Ken Feldman explained the new FCC National Broadband Mapping that was coming out in a few days.  This map details the level of broadband service available across the country.  Visit and you will have the ability to drill down to your specific home.  Everyone should examine your specific location for accuracy and if you find the information to be incorrect you can challenge its accuracy.  For more details about this map, please read the article below from FCC Chairwoman Jessica Rosenworcel about this undertaking.

Watch or review the broadband session that was presented at the 2022 League of Municipalities conference.

Following the Money: Accessing Broadband Funding

The information that was talked about was very valuable, especially to those municipalities who have been forced to contend with broadband issues.  The pandemic exposed all of us to the crucial need for broadband with high speed internet.  This session explained in simple terms what you and your citizens must do in order to be in the running to get a share of these amazing grants.

The New Broadband Maps Are Finally Here

November 18, 2022

By Jessica Rosenworcel | Chairwoman

Today, the FCC is unveiling the pre-production draft of its new broadband maps. These maps provide the best picture available to date of where broadband is and is not available across the country, and the maps will only get better from here. Here are the most important things to know about today’s maps:

Broadband consumers are empowered like never before. Maps that show the availability of high-speed Internet service are nothing new. The problem is that the FCC’s maps had previously relied on information that failed to paint the whole picture of who did and who did not have the internet. The FCC’s older maps collected data at the census block level, meaning that if a single home was served in a census block, the whole block would show up as served on our maps. The net result was maps that were overly optimistic, lacked location-specific information, and subsequently glossed over gaps in coverage. With these new maps, the FCC has integrated the information from broadband providers with hundreds of location-specific data sources, giving us a far more detailed and accurate picture of fixed broadband availability.

These improved maps will mean direct benefits for consumers. Users now have a one-stop-shop to search for their address and find information about which internet service providers claim to offer service at the location, the broadband technologies they offer, and the maximum download and upload speeds they advertise for each technology. This greater transparency will create market pressures on internet providers to improve their coverage. The new maps will also help policymakers more accurately target investments to expand broadband to unserved and underserved areas and close the digital divide.

This is a beginning, not an endpoint, for the new era of broadband maps. While today marks an important milestone in the effort to create more granular and accurate broadband maps, this work is far from over. To emphasize how much more work needs to be done, we are calling the product we unveil today a pre-production draft. Releasing this early version of the new maps is intended to kickstart an ongoing, iterative process where we are consistently adding new data to improve and refine the maps.

The long-term success of this effort will depend on consumer and stakeholder engagement. To ensure that the maps are constantly improving, we have set up a system that allows consumers and others to challenge inaccuracies and provide feedback. Individuals who see that the information on the maps does not match up with what they know from their lived experience will be able to submit challenges, or request corrections, directly through the map interface. We will also accept bulk challenges to the reported availability data from state, Tribal, and local governments and other stakeholders who see problems we need to correct in multiple locations. We strongly encourage these parties to partner with us and share their input through the challenge process so we may continue to improve our maps. This crowdsourcing activity is an important part of getting the information we have right.

The last thing I would note about the release of today’s maps is that they are the product of a lot of hard work, especially by public servants at the FCC. I want to thank the Broadband Data Task Force and the many, many dedicated staff throughout the Commission who have helped us get to this point. Thanks also to the Congressional leaders who spearheaded the Broadband DATA Act, which was the driving force behind today’s release.

This effort is a big improvement over the old system that simply stated if service was available on the basis of a single subscriber in a census block. But we have work to do to refine this information and make sure it is accurate and up to date. Let’s get to it.


Calls To Action

1) Look closely at these maps to check their accuracy and to see how each of your towns measure up

2) Make sure that you and your residents fill out the BPU’s survey. Please remember, everyone can be a great spokesperson for their own municipality!

Broadband in New Jersey

by Robert Boyle, Founder and CEO, Planet Networks

This is the second year I attended the New Jersey State League of Municipalities convention.  It is also the second time I have had the honor to speak on the JAG panel on a topic that I am so passionate about and have dedicated the last 29 years of my life to making it a reality with Planet Networks – fast, reliable, and affordable Internet access for all – especially those in chronically underserved areas.

The rock stars I had the honor to share the stage with are equally passionate about the cause of better broadband for all.  Thank you to: Valarry C. Bullard (Transparency Officer | Broadband Advisor – NJ Office of the Governor), Joe Rivera (Manager of Broadband Access NJ BPU), India Still (Deputy Executive Director Administration and Finance Atlantic City MUA), Bob Duthaler (President Jersey Access Group), Ken Fellman (President at Kissinger & Fellman, P.C.), & Brian Wahler (Piscataway Township, Mayor).

It was not an accident that the very first residential building Planet Networks lit up with fiber Internet was a 101-unit apartment building where the majority of the units were rent-subsidized.  We were also one of the first companies to sign up for the federal government’s Emergency Broadband Benefit during the pandemic.  This initiative turned into the Affordable Connectivity Program which we have supported and accepted since day one. Providing ubiquitous and affordable Internet is a universal problem that will require all of us to work together toward equity and justice from NJ’s most rural farm roads to our urban centers.  Far too many still lack access to anything resembling reliable Internet service.  Private investments, like those Planet Networks is making with the addition of the federal funds available, when spent wisely can ensure access for all.  If you live in NJ and haven’t already taken it, please take the NJ broadband assessment: