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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

 

Breakfast Media LLC CEO Drew Clark is a nationally respected U.S. telecommunications attorney. An early advocate of better broadband, better lives, he founded the Broadband Census crowdsourcing campaign for better broadband data in 2008. That effort became the Broadband Breakfast media community. As Editor and Publisher, Clark presides over news coverage focused on digital infrastructure investment, broadband’s impact, and Big Tech. Under the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009, Clark served as head of the Partnership for a Connected Illinois, a state broadband initiative. Now, in light of the 2021 Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act, attorney Clark helps fiber-based and wireless clients secure funding, identify markets, broker infrastructure and operate in the public right of way. He also helps fixed wireless providers obtain spectrum licenses from the Federal Communications Commission. 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.

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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