DALLAS, April 6, 2017 - The Rural Telecommunications Congress program at the 2017 Broadband Communities Summit here on May 1-4, 2017, will feature panelists on the Universal Service Administrative Corporation's role in bringing broadband to underserved and unserved communities, the role of broadband mapping in today's telecommunications ecosystem, a case study of bringing broadband to Appalachia, a robust discussion of co-working spaces and the impact they can have on rural communities, and many other topics.
REGISTER TODAY to attend the RTC sessions by using the Rural Telecommunications Code discount code of RTC350. This registration code entitles you to the lowest possible rate to attend not only the RTC sessions, but the entire Broadband Communities Summit program. The cost is $350.
Below is a complete list of the Rural Broadband Track at the summit. In coming days, I'll be highlighting individual programs in separate articles laying out what you can expect at each session.
Tuesday, May 2
3:00 pm – 4:00 pm
A VOICE FROM WASHINGTON
Connecting Rural America: How the Universal Service Fund is Bringing Broadband to Underserved and Unserved Communities
A discussion of the strategically important Universal Service Fund and ongoing FCC modernization of the federal program to support broadband infrastructure as well as voice service. This session will cover high-level changes at USAC, which administers the $10 billion program, along with an overview of the four programs that make up the fund. It will also take a closer look at the High Cost program, which accounts for nearly half of the entire Universal Service Fund, as the FCC transforms it to subsidize broadband with the new Connect America Fund. In addition, this session will provide an update on the new HUBB (High Cost Universal Broadband) portal, which will collect geolocated broadband deployment data from carriers showing exactly where they are building out mass-market, high-speed Internet service.
Keith Montgomery – CFO, Declaration Networks, Group, Inc.
Mark Sweeney – COO, Universal Service Administrative Company (USAC)
Habib Simab – Director of Operation -High Cost Program, Universal Service Administrative Company (USAC)
Bill Johnson – GIS Director, Universal Service Administrative Company (USAC)
Understanding the locations where high-speed internet service is available has never been more important to the Federal Communications Commission, the Universal Service Administrative Corporation, and a range of federal and state government agencies. Yet the end of the State Broadband Initiative puts data-collection efforts at a disadvantage. What are government official and private companies doing to fill the void?
Drew Clark – President, Rural Telecommunications Congress; Editor & Publisher, BroadbandBreakfast.com
Brian Rathbone – Broadband Planner, Broadband Catalysts
Steve Rosenberg – Chief Data Officer, Federal Communications Commission
Bill Johnson – GIS Director, Universal Service Administrative Company (USAC)
Wednesday, May 3
9:00 am – 9:50 am
Broadband is the New Coal: How Appalachia is Tackling Broadband
What the Appalachian Regional Commission has done to spur the development of broadband and technology-based economic development to help offset the loss of the coal economy in communities from Pennsylvania to Tennessee.
Eric Ogle – Treasurer, Rural Telecommunications Congress; Senior Consultant, Magellan Advisors
Michael Curri – President, SNG (making a short presentation about broadband in the states)
Mark DeFalco – Manager, Appalachian Regional Commission
Lee Brown – General Manager, Erwin Utilities, Erwin, TN
Nathaniel Watkins – CIO, Garrett County, MD
Cheryl DeBerry – Natural Resources Business Specialist, Garrett County, MD
10:00 am – 10:50 am
Learn from the Winners
(Presented with NTCA)
Find out what earned three showcase communications companies the NTCA’s prestigious Smart Rural Community Showcase Award, given for promoting rural broadband networks and the broadband-enabled applications that communities can leverage to foster innovative economic development, commerce, education, health care, government services, public safety and security and more efficient energy distribution and use.
Josh Seidemann – Vice President of Policy, NTCA
2:30 pm – 3:30 pm
Fiber-Based Incubators and Tech Hives
For most communities that develop or partner for high-speed broadband network, economic development and job creation is the primary motivation. Some particularly innovative communities are taking the next step and developing incubators that cultivate and support new businesses. These communities are leveraging their connectivity to attract new entrepreneurs and high-tech companies into their community. Our panelists each have experience working with fiber-based incubators and will talk about some of the positive outcomes and lessons learned.
Gene Crick – Rural Telecommunications Congress
Doug Dawson – President, CCG Consulting
Robert Wack – City Council President, Westminster, MD
Joel Smith – Accelerant BSP
Dennis Donohue – Lead, Center for Innovation & Technology, Western Growers; Former Mayor, Salinas, CA
Gabriel Garcia – Director & Senior Counsel, CPS Energy
4:00 pm – 5:00 pm
Paying for the Last Mile: Check Out This Essential Service Approach that Pays for the Last Mile
There are proven models (e.g. electrical co-ops, gas utilities) to finance broadband in higher-cost areas by approaching it as an essential service. This session will examine a new way to fund the last mile by combining Broadband Improvement Districts, cost reduction financing and local economic growth in a manner that is sustainable and low risk. And if you're wondering if it's a solution for a problem that doesn't exist.... Recent SNG research reveals that rural broadband subscribers receive half the bandwidth for the same price as their urban counterparts. Furthermore, subscribers with one broadband provider are getting less than half the bandwidth that subscribers with two or more providers get in their area -- again for the same price. There are still far too many unserved and underserved areas and the current business case approach is not addressing their needs.
Michael Curri – Founder & President, Strategic Networks Group, Inc.
Thursday, May 4
9:10 am – 10:00 am
Ownership Models for Rural Broadband
In metropolitan areas, broadband providers are usually vertically integrated – the same company builds, owns and manages the infrastructure and also delivers services. Rural network owners have been more willing to experiment with different ownership and funding models. In this session, we’ll hear from multiple network owners that have achieved success in rural areas. Find out what the trade-offs are among these different models, and learn how to decide which is right for your network.
Joel Mulder – Vice President of Sales, ex2 Technology
10:10 am – 11:00 am
Rural Quality of Life; Balancing Digital Opportunities and Technological Disruptions
Given affordable broadband access and appropriate devices, bridging the digital divide depends on what first you learn is possible, and then, choose to do with broadband. Without attention to appropriate support systems for growing a rural and/or urban, local culture of creativity, the digital divide will persist, even with broadband. This panel will address actionable strategies for scalable training, motivation, and ongoing support for grassroots champions, and social entrepreneurs, in rural, tribal, and urban communities.
Frank Odasz – President, Lone Eagle Consulting
Michael Liimatta – Professor, City Vision University; Former Manager of ConnectHome at HUD
11:10 am – 12:00 pm
BETTER BROADBAND POLICY
Revising the Telecom Act to Meet the Needs of Rural America
A chance for all to meet with serious folks who have spent years working on broadband diffusion and their ideas of how to change the laws to create more broadband access in rural America. They were here when the Internet started and have helped grow it. What laws do we need to change? What partnerships do we need to develop? Financing for smaller firms and community access institutions. Cross Border Initiatives Schools, Libraries, HealthCare funding.
Jane Smith Patterson – Partner, Broadband Catalysts, LLP