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Rural Telecommunications Congress Members and Others Take Spotlight at Broadband Communities Summit

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AUSTIN, Texas, April 4, 2014 – Next week, at the Broadband Communities Summit here in Austin, the Rural Telecommunications Congress will take center stage with a series of sessions on “The Bandwidth of the States,” “Financing Future Bandwidth,” “Digital Learning in the Classroom,” “Rural Innovation,” and — as a kicker — “Cool Things Rural Communities Are Doing With Broadband.”

At this marque event next week, I’ve been asked to lead the Rural Telecommunications Congress morning session on “The Bandwidth of the States” together with Galen Updike, immediate past president of the RTC.

Those wishing to attend the entire Broadband Communities event may do so by registering as members of the Rural Telecommunications Congress. RTC members are able to attend the event at the rate of $200, for an $895 value.

To participate, register at https://www.regonline.com/Register/Checkin.aspx?EventID=1260970 and use the registration code “RTC200” (no quotation marks).

As members of the RTC Board, Galen and I have planned a series of morning events that will highlight progress in broadband over the past five years.

We are coming up on the fifth year anniversary of the State Broadband Initiative program. SBI, part of the U.S. Department of Commerce’s State Broadband Initiative program, has played a substantial role in enhancing broadband’s contribution to economic development. Anne Neville, the program director of SBI, has agreed to give our morning keynote on the subject.

After that, we’ll move directly into the “50 States in 50 Minutes” section, in which eight spokespeople from eight regions of the country will speak about the state of broadband in the states. This will be an opportunity for rapid-fire information about each of the states.

Several of the questions that will be address in this presentation include:
•    What is the state of broadband now versus five years ago in the regions?
•    What notable infrastructure projects have occurred over the past five years in the regions?
•    What notable projects to spur broadband adoption have taken place in the regions?
•    What are the future opportunity to public-private broadband efforts in the states within the regions? Are there any impediments to such progress in the states?
•    What role will SBI entities have following December 31, 2014? Have any of the SBI entities made public their plans to continue, or to discontinue, operations?
•    What role will the public safety network FirstNet play within the regions?
•    Are there any notable private-sector Gigabit Networks under development in the regions?

Below is the formal program, also available online:

9:40 am – 11:00 am
The Bandwidth of the States: Where They Stand in 2014

Keynote Presentation:

Anne Neville – Director, State Broadband Initiative of the U.S. Department of Commerce’s National Telecommunications and Information

The past five years have witnesses an explosion of broadband internet services, by providers and by the public sector. Stimulus projects including infrastructure investments, sustainable broadband programs, and state broadband initiatives have boosted awareness of the benefits of internet connectivity. Anne Neville, Director of the key federal broadband program working in collaboration with the states,will set the stage for our “50 States in 50 Minutes” presentation. She will be followed by spokesmen from eight regions to highlight the state of bandwidth in each of the 50 states.

50 States In 50 Minutes:

Where the states stand at the ending of BTOP and NTIA-SBDD. Metrics of past deployment of broadband. How the states are now poised for the future. All 50 states will be reviewed and commented on. A report will be available.

Speakers by Region:

Southwest:
Galen Updike – Former Chair, Rural Telecom Congress

New England:
Jason Whittet – Former Dep. Dir., Mass Broadband Institute

Mid-Atlantic:
David Salway – Director, New York State Broadband Program Office

Piedmont South:
Jane Smith Patterson – Chair, RTC.

Deep South:
David Moore – Director, Louisiana Broadband Initiative

Midwest:
Mike Wilson – CostQuest Associates

Great Plains:
Eric Mills – General Counsel, Connected Nation

Northwest:
Frank Odasz – President, Lone Eagle Consulting

11:10 am – 12:30 pm
Envisioning a Future for Broadband Deployment

Building on “50 States in 50 Minutes,” this session will look to the future for national broadband policy leadership. Informed by the State Broadband Initiative programs, as well as both a range of local, regional and national activities, this session will bring considerable depth and expertise to the next steps for broadband deployment. We’ll survey national developments, for-profit and non-profit Gigabit Network, legislative barriers to public broadband, and ongoing opportunities for public-private partnerships.

Moderator:
Drew Clark – Chairman and Publisher, Broadband Breakfast Club; Former Executive Director, Broadband Illinois

Speakers:
Rachelle Chong – Techwire.net; former California PUC
Lev Gonick – CEO of One Community, Cleveland
Christopher Mitchell – Institute for Local Self Reliance
Anne Neville – Director, State Broadband Initiative, NTIA, U.S. Dept of Commerce
David Shaw – Partner, Kirton McConkie; General Counsel, UTOPIA

 

Drew Clark is the Editor and Publisher of BroadbandBreakfast.com and a nationally-respected telecommunications attorney at The CommLaw Group. He has closely tracked the trends in and mechanics of digital infrastructure for 20 years, and has helped fiber-based and fixed wireless providers navigate coverage, identify markets, broker infrastructure, and operate in the public right of way. The articles and posts on Broadband Breakfast and affiliated social media, including the BroadbandCensus Twitter feed, are not legal advice or legal services, do not constitute the creation of an attorney-client privilege, and represent the views of their respective authors.

Broadband's Impact

Broadband Breakfast on October 27, 2021 — When ‘Greenfield’ Fiber Meets ‘Brownfield’ Multiple Dwelling Units

What options do owners of, operators in, and tenants within MDUs have for better-quality broadband?

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Our Broadband Breakfast Live Online events take place on Wednesday at 12 Noon ET. You can watch the October 27, 2021, event on this page. You can also PARTICIPATE in the current Broadband Breakfast Live Online event. REGISTER HERE.

Wednesday, October 27, 2021, 12 Noon ET — “When Greenfield Fiber Meets Brownfield Multiple Dwelling Units”

Bringing fiber to the premises is sometimes only half the battle. For example, bringing fiber to an MDU may not mean that every tenant will get better-quality broadband. In the case of multiple dwelling units or multi-tenant housing, it isn’t easy to completely rewire an existing building with fiber-to-the-unit. Further, the Biden Administration and the Federal Communications Commission are pushing real estate owners to eliminate or minimize exclusive MDU broadband contacts. What options do the owners of, operators in, and tenants within MDUs have to enjoy both competitive and better-quality broadband?

Panelists:

  • Kevin Donnelly, Vice President, Government Affairs, Technology and Strategic Initiatives, National Multifamily Housing Council
  • Jenna Leventoff, Senior Policy Counsel, Public Knowledge
  • Pierre Trudeau, President and Chief Technology Officer, Positron Access
  • Other Guests have been invited
  • Drew Clark (moderator), Editor and Publisher of Broadband Breakfast

Kevin Donnelly is Vice President for Government Affairs, Technology and Strategic Initiatives at the National Multifamily Housing Council (NMHC) and represents the interests of the multifamily industry before the federal government focusing on technology, connectivity, risk management and their intersection with housing policy. Kevin is a part of NMHC’s Innovation and Technology team and leads its Intelligent Buildings and Connectivity Committee.  Kevin has spent over 15 years in the public policy arena at leading real estate trade associations and on Capitol Hill. Kevin received his BA from Rutgers University and his Masters in Public Management from Johns Hopkins University.

Jenna Leventoff is a Senior Policy Counsel at Public Knowledge, where she focuses on broadband deployment and adoption. Prior to joining Public Knowledge, Jenna served as a Senior Policy Analyst for the Workforce Data Quality Campaign (WDQC) at the National Skills Coalition, where she led WDQC’s state policy advocacy and technical assistance efforts on state data system development and use. She also served as an Associate at Upturn, where she analyzed the civil rights implications of new technologies, and as Manager and Legal Counsel of the International Intellectual Property Institute, where she led the organization’s efforts to utilize intellectual property for international economic development. Jenna received her J.D, cum laude, and B.A from Case Western Reserve University.

Pierre Trudeau is President and Chief Technology Officer, Positron Access.

Drew ClarkEditor and Publisher of Broadband Breakfast, also serves as Of Counsel to The CommLaw Group. He has helped fiber-based and fixed wireless providers negotiate telecom leases and fiber IRUs, litigate to operate in the public right of way, and argue regulatory classifications before federal and state authorities. He has also worked with cities on structuring Public-Private Partnerships for better broadband access for their communities. Drew brings experts and practitioners together to advance the benefits provided by broadband. He is also the President of the Rural Telecommunications Congress.

WATCH HERE, or on YouTubeTwitter and Facebook

As with all Broadband Breakfast Live Online events, the FREE webcasts will take place at 12 Noon ET on Wednesday.

SUBSCRIBE to the Broadband Breakfast YouTube channel. That way, you will be notified when events go live. Watch on YouTubeTwitter and Facebook

See a complete list of upcoming and past Broadband Breakfast Live Online events.

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National Non-Profit to Launch Joint Initiative to Close Broadband Affordability and Homework Gap

EducationSuperHighway is signing up partners and will launch November 4.

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Evan Marwell, founder and CEO of Education Super Highway.

WASHINGTON, October 18, 2021 – National non-profit Education Super Highway is set to launch a campaign next month that will work with internet service providers to identify students without broadband and expand programs that will help connect the unconnected.

On November 4, the No Home Left Offline initiative will launch to close the digital divide for 18 million American households that “have access to the Internet but can’t afford to connect,” according to a Monday press release.

The campaign will publish a detailed report with “crucial data insights into the broadband affordability gap and the opportunities that exist to close it,” use data to identify unconnected households and students, and launch broadband adoption and free apartment Wi-Fi programs in Washington D.C.

The non-profit and ISPs will share information confidentially to identify students without broadband at home and “enable states and school districts to purchase Internet service for families through sponsored service agreements,” the website said.

The initiative will run on five principles: identify student need, have ISPs create sponsored service offerings for school districts or other entities, set eligibility standards, minimize the amount of information necessary to sign up families, and protect privacy.

The non-profit said 82 percent of Washington D.C.’s total unconnected households – a total of just over 100,000 people – have access to the internet but can’t afford to connect.

“This ‘broadband affordability gap’ keeps 47 million Americans offline, is present in every state, and disproportionately impacts low-income, Black, and Latinx communities,” the release said. “Without high-speed Internet access at home, families in Washington DC can’t send their children to school, work remotely, or access healthcare, job training, the social safety net, or critical government services.”

Over 120 regional and national carriers have signed up for the initiative.

The initiative is another in a national effort to close the “homework gap.” The Federal Communications Commission is connected schools, libraries and students using money from the Emergency Connectivity Fund, which is subsidizing devices and connections. It has received $5 billion in requested funds in just round one.

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Broadband's Impact

Steve Lacoff: A New Standard for the ‘Cloudification’ of Communications Services

The cloudification of communications services makes it easy to include voice, data, SMS, and video within any existing service.

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The author of this Expert Opinion is Steve Lacoff, general manager of Avalara for communications

The line of demarcation between what has traditionally been considered a telecommunications service was once very clear. It was tangible – there were wires, end points, towers, switches, facilities. Essentially, there was infrastructure required to relay voice or data from point A to point B.

Today that line is fuzzy, if not invisible. The legacy infrastructure remains, but an industry of cloud-based services that don’t require the physical connections has exploded. Voice, data, SMS, and video conferencing can now be conveniently delivered OTT. Enabled by simple API integrations, businesses can embed just one of these services or a complete communications platform-as-a-service (CPaaS) into an app, service, or product.

Cloudification is a game changer

This “cloudification” of communications services makes it easy to include voice, data, SMS, and video within any existing application, product, or service. These are essential components for many business models.

Consider these services we have come to rely on in our daily lives: food or grocery delivery, ride services, and business and personal communications. These require multiple methods of communication with shoppers, drivers, co-workers, watch party groups, and external business partners.

The exciting news is there is no end in sight. Use cases will continue to evolve and growth will continue to skyrocket. The scale cloud delivery accommodates is massive. These untethered, easy to embed communications services are a critical differentiator for both business-to-business and business-to-consumer buyers, and the lifeblood of the businesses providing both the end user subscriptions and the APIs.

In fact, one industry juggernaut saw H1 YoY video application service demand grow nearly 600% in 2020.

Not surprisingly, as business demand for these services increases smaller CPaaS players continue to enter the market to quickly snag market share. According to a recent IDC study, “the global market revenue for CPaaS reached $5.9bn in 2020, up from $4.26bn in 2019, and is expected to reach $17.71bn by 2024.”

Merger and acquisition activity is aligned with this hockey stick growth forecast. Large telcos, SaaS providers, and even other CPaaS providers are all on the hunt. Whether they want to add additional features to punch up their products or eliminate the competition in a very tight, nuanced market, the end game is clear – as the market expands, the players will ultimately contract leaving only the most competitive offerings.

Don’t let communications tax take you by surprise

One of the least understood risks when adding cloud-based voice, data, SMS, or video conferencing to an existing product or service is new eligibility for and exposure to the complex world of communications taxation. Making mistakes can get costly very quickly.

Here are some of the key pitfalls to keep an eye on:

  • Expanded nexus: Understanding communications tax nexus is different – and exceptionally more complicated – than sales tax. There are approximately 60,000 federal, state, local, and special taxing jurisdictions, each with uniquely complex rules that tend to change at their own pace. Rules are very different for each service.
  • More complex calculations: The more communications services you provide via API, the more complicated communications taxes will be. Each feature can be taxed at different rates in each individual jurisdiction, or the whole bundle can be taxed at one rate. It’s critical to monitor monthly to avoid audit issues.
  • Maintaining overall compliance: Just as tax rates and rules need to be maintained, so must tax and regulatory filing forms in each jurisdiction. Some of these are very long and require significant detail.  They must be filed in a timely, accurate cadence to avoid additional audit risk.

Bottom line: Don’t assume, be prepared! As these communications services become more pervasive a larger swath of technology providers will find themselves liable for communications tax. The more your business falls behind, the more it can cost you.

It pays to be proactive and prepared. Tax and legal advisory experts can help determine your level of risk, and tax and compliance software providers can help you keep up with changing rules and regulations. Don’t underestimate the ongoing value of networking with peers who are either struggling to answer the same questions or have already overcome the hurdles you’re facing today.

Steve Lacoff is General Manager of Avalara for Communications. With a focus on data, VoIP, and video streaming, Steve has spent 15 years in various product and marketing leadership roles in communications and technology industries, including Disney’s streaming services and Comcast technology solutions. Steve now drives business strategy on today’s changing industry landscape and associated tax impacts. 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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