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Broadband's Impact

Go Smart, Go Green; Former Mayor Urges Broadband Innovation for Cities

DALLAS, April 29, 2010 – Broadband is a powerful solution to community ills, former two-term mayor Fort Wayne, Indiana, Graham Richard said Tuesday at a packed keynote luncheon at the 2010 Broadband Properties Summit here.

His address presented a model for community involvement in the proliferation of broadband as a tool to make cities more efficient, retain and gain jobs, while educating a workforce for the future.

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DALLAS, April 29, 2010 – Broadband is a powerful solution to community ills, former two-term mayor Fort Wayne, Indiana, Graham Richard said Tuesday at a packed keynote luncheon at the 2010 Broadband Properties Summit here.

His address presented a model for community involvement in the proliferation of broadband as a tool to make cities more efficient, retain and gain jobs, while educating a workforce for the future.

Richard said that city and county governments are now facing the most perilous free-fall in their history of financial insolvency. Good things can spring from adversity, however: but broadband advocates must build partnerships with local governments to help them provide better and more efficient services to their communities.

Richard said was disappointed with his former colleagues in government who believe that wholesale budget cuts are the answer.

Rather, political leaders must look to new avenues of efficiency; think outside the box, and reach outside their comfort zones to solve problems.

He challenged summit attendees to help government by making better use of broadband.

Broadband as an educational and cost-savings tool was also on the mayor’s advocacy list. Because of the 40 percent increase in the enrollment of students in two-year college programs, these schools are straining under current infrastructure and instructor shortages.

Broadband can not only educate students online, relieve the strains on college services and costs, and help these institutions be more efficient and save money. Most colleges are raising tuition to cover the added costs of these issues.

Using broadband as a sustainable vehicle for public libraries is a must , he said. It is a tool for use by individuals of all ages and backgrounds to better educate themselves on various levels. It also allows , job seekers to improve their skills.

Broadband should also be used as an energy savings tool. Think of the potential savings that could be accomplished by using broadband to monitor home systems and appliances, he said. Federal funds granted for use in construction of energy-efficient homes could be redirected to broadband proliferation – and would be a smarter use of federal dollars, he said.

Using low-income family stimulus dollars to create broadband accessibility is a more efficient use of taxpayer funds. He said that such investments will pay dividends through education, energy savings, reduction of travel costs, and job creation.

To the summit, Richard brought his concept of a roundtable of broadband constituents. He approached summit leaders with the idea of forming a small group of broadband advocates to participate in a roundtable about the issues facing local communities, and how each of these individuals can collaborate to come up with ideas, through knowledge-based sharing, and in moving the broadband agenda forward in the future.

Rather than have five-hundred attendees in one meeting room, it would be good to create a small group of informed and dedicated individuals to grow, share, and implement ideas in broadband connectivity.

Richard went on to say that we are all here for a purpose: why not use that purpose to create collaboration and knowledge sharing going forward? A small group of purpose-minded individuals can make a significant difference for broadband advocacy at the local level.

Len Grace is a Cable Industry veteran with over 18 years experience as a former General Manager with Comcast Corporation. His insights into pertinent and relevant issues within the Telecom/Cable TV arenas both inform and enlighten readers on current industry trends. Currently, Len is an Independent Consultant/Strategist and Blogger who contributes to Light Reading/Cable Digital News, an internationally syndicated technology news organization. Len blogs under the title The Cable Pipeline offering research and commentary on today’s broadband issues. Also see his expert opinion.

Health

Digital Literacy Training Needed for Optimal Telehealth Outcomes, Healthcare Reps Say

Digital literacy should be a priority to unlock telehealth’s potential, a telehealth event heard.

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Photo of telehealth consultation from Healthcare IT News

WASHINGTON, May 18, 2022 – Digital literacy training should be a priority for providers and consumers to improve telehealth outcomes, experts said at a conference Tuesday.

Digital literacy training will unlock telehealth’s potential to improve health outcomes, according to the event’s experts, including improving treatment for chronic diseases, improving patient-doctor relationships, and providing easier medical access for those without access to transportation.

Julia Skapik of the National Association of Community Health Centers said at the National Telehealth Conference on Tuesday that both patients and clinicians need to be trained on how to use tools that allow both parties to communicate remotely.

Skapik said her association has plans to implement training for providers to utilize tech opportunities, such as patient portals to best engage patients.

Ann Mond Johnson from the American Telemedicine Association agreed that telehealth will improve health outcomes by giving proper training to utilize the technology to offer the services.

The Federal Communications Commission announced its telehealth program in April 2021, which set aside $200 million for health institutions to provide remote care for patients.

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Digital Inclusion

W. Antoni Sinkfield: To Succeed in 21st Century, Communities Need to Get Connected Now

One of the primary responsibilities of being a faith leader is to listen to your community and understand its problems.

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The author of this Expert Opinion is Reverend W. Antoni Sinkfield, Associate Dean for Community Life at Wesley Theological Seminary.

One of the primary responsibilities of being a faith leader is to listen to your community, understand its problems, and provide support in challenging times. Particularly during the pandemic, it has been hard not to notice that my parishioners, and folks across the country, are divided into two groups: those with access to the internet, and those without.

In 2022, digital inclusion is still something we strive for in poor and rural areas throughout America. The lack of reliable internet access is an enormous disadvantage to so many people in all facets of their lives.

To fully participate in today’s society, all people, no matter who they are and no matter where they live, must have access to the internet. Think of the remote learning every child had to experience when schools were closed, and the challenges that families faced when they didn’t have access to a quality connection.

It’s a question of plain fairness.

Politicians have been talking for decades about bringing high-speed internet access to everyone, however many families continue to be left behind. More than 42 million people across the country lack affordable, reliable broadband connections, and as many as 120 million people who cannot get online are stuck with slow service that does not allow them to take advantage of everything the internet has to offer.

People of color are disproportionately affected by lack of broadband access

Lack of broadband disproportionately affects communities of color, as well: 35 percent of Americans of Latino descent and 29 percent of African-Americans do not have a broadband connection at home.

Every person in rural towns, urban neighborhoods, and tribal communities needs and deserves equal and full economic and educational opportunities. Studies show that students without home access to the internet are less likely to attend college and face a digital skills gap equivalent to three years’ worth of schooling. Small businesses, which are the cornerstone of rural and urban communities alike, need broadband to reach their customers and provide the service they expect.

Simply put, having access to the internet in every community is vital to its ability to succeed in the 21st century.

Fortunately, we have an opportunity to take major steps toward a solution. Last year, Congress passed President Biden’s Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act, which provides $65 billion to expand broadband access and affordability. It is essential that we use this money to connect as many unserved and underserved communities as we can – and as quickly as we can.

Different places need different options to bridge the digital divide

As we bridge the digital divide, we must listen to those who have been left behind and make sure that we deploy solutions that fit their needs. Different places need different options – so it’s important that all voices are heard, and the technology that works best for the community is made readily available.

All people need access to broadband to learn, work, shop, pay bills, and get efficient healthcare.

When I talk to my parishioners, they speak about how much of their lives have transitioned online and are frustrated about not having reliable access. They do not care about the nuances of how we bring broadband to everyone. They just want to have it now – and understandably so.

This means that we must explore all solutions possible to provide high-speed broadband with the connection and support they need, when they need it, regardless of where they live.

Now is the time to meet those struggling where they are, stop dreaming about bridging the divide, and just get it done. Our government has a rare opportunity to fix an enormous problem, using money already approved for the purpose. Let’s make sure they do so in a manner that works for the communities they’re trying to help.

Rev. W. Antoni Sinkfield, Ph.D., serves as Associate Dean for Community Life at Wesley Theological Seminary, and is an ordained Itinerate Elder in the African Methodist Episcopal Church. This piece is exclusive to Broadband Breakfast.

Broadband Breakfast accepts commentary from informed observers of the broadband scene. Please send pieces to commentary@breakfast.media. The views expressed in Expert Opinion pieces do not necessarily reflect the views of Broadband Breakfast and Breakfast Media LLC.

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Broadband's Impact

Biden Delivers Remarks on Free Broadband to Qualified Households

Biden compared the value of broadband to telephone service, and drew parallels to the historic effort to connect the country.

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Screenshot of President Joe Biden delivering remarks at the White Hose Rose Garden

WASHINGTON, May 9, 2022 – President Joe Biden emphasized the essential nature of broadband during a public appearance on Monday.

Biden delivered remarks at the White House Rose Garden on the day’s earlier announcement that the federal government would work with both regional and national broadband providers to provide essentially free broadband to qualified households.

“Too many Americans simply cannot afford to get connected even if there is access to get connected. So, they go without high-speed internet, or they sacrifice other necessities in order to make it work,” Biden said.

“High-speed internet is not a luxury any longer – it is a necessity,” Biden said. “That is why the bipartisan infrastructure law included $65 billion to make sure we expand access to broadband internet in every region of the country.”

Biden also laid out the criteria for eligible households to take advantage of Affordable Connectivity Program, which when paired with the effort by ISPs to keep 100 Mbps download services under $30, provides free internet to consumers.

“If your household income is twice the federal poverty level or less – that is that’s about $55,000 per year for a family of four – or $27,000 for an individual – or a member of your household is on Medicaid or supplementary [social] security income or a number of other programs – you are eligible.”

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