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Broadband's Impact

At Inaugural AnchorNETs Conference in Silicon Valley, The Broadband Talk is About Public-Private Partnerships

MOUNTAIN VIEW, November 24, 2015 – Community broadband institutions are a key building block to accelerate deployment of high-capacity internet service, said speakers and panelists at the inaugural Anchornets conference here last week.

Such community institutions also play a vital role in facilitating public-private partnerships that aid such deployment, they said at a conference hosted by the Schools, Health and Libraries Broadband Coalition at the Museum of Computer History here in the heart of Silicon Valley on Monday, November 16.

Sunne McPeak, CEO of the California Emerging Technology Fund, speaks of the importance of public-private partnership to broadband.

Among the high-profile leaders who emphasized the important role of schools and libraries in promoting high-speed internet service were former Illinois Gov. Pat Quinn, Sunne McPeak, CEO of the California Emerging Technology Fund, and Evan Marwell, founder of EducationSuperhighway, a non-profit designed to promote greater internet connectivity in schools.

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MOUNTAIN VIEW, November 24, 2015 – Community broadband institutions are a key building block to accelerate deployment of high-capacity internet service, said speakers and panelists at the inaugural Anchornets conference here last week.

Such community institutions also play a vital role in facilitating public-private partnerships that aid such deployment, they said at a conference hosted by the Schools, Health and Libraries Broadband Coalition at the Museum of Computer History here in the heart of Silicon Valley on Monday, November 16.

Sunne McPeak, CEO of the California Emerging Technology Fund, speaks of the importance of public-private partnership to broadband.

Sunne McPeak, CEO of the California Emerging Technology Fund, speaks of the importance of public-private partnership to broadband.

Among the high-profile leaders who emphasized the important role of schools and libraries in promoting high-speed internet service were former Illinois Gov. Pat Quinn, Sunne McPeak, CEO of the California Emerging Technology Fund, and Evan Marwell, founder of EducationSuperhighway, a non-profit designed to promote greater internet connectivity in schools.

“We have fiber to every school, Wi-Fi to every classroom and connectivity that every district can afford,” said Marwell, speaking of his fast-growing non-profit, which started only in 2012.

EducationSuperhighway and the SHLB Coalition have been instrumental in pressing for changes to the eRate portion of the universal service fund that supports broadband connectivity in classrooms. Last year the FCC took significant steps in July and December to boost funding, and to permit schools to enter into partnerships to build their own broadband.

The theme the public-private partnerships can help overcome existing broadband gaps was echoed during other sessions throughout the conference.

For example, during a panel on the “Economics of the Local-Middle Mile Networks,” experts and practitioners building last-mile fiber-optic networks spoke the important role that middle-mile connections have played in opening new opportunities on their home ground.

In Sweden, open access fiber-optic networks are commonplace, said Isak Finer, vice president of COS Systems, which designs software enabling cities and companies to build Gigabit Networks. Finer said he’s seeing more and more U.S. communities following the Swedish model.

Isak Finer, vice president of COS Systems, speaking about tools to facilitate open access broadband networks.

Isak Finer, vice president of COS Systems, speaking about tools to facilitate open access broadband networks.

James Hackett, the director of business operations for the Santa Cruz, California-based provider Cruzio Internet, agreed. His company, which has been reselling digital subscriber line and wireless internet services for 26 years, is seeking to entice the city and public-private partners into build a fiber network upon which Cruzio may offer services.

“Not only will this bring incredible economic benefits, but huge savings to the city itself,” said Hackett. Noting that Santz Cruz is one of the hubs of the University of California higher education system, he said a Gigabit Network could dramatically cut down on traffic.

“We want to keep 25,000 people from driving over the hill every day,” he said, referring to the mountain passage separating the beachside Santa Cruz from the still-sprawling Silicon Valley around San Jose.

He noted an upcoming vote before the Santa Cruz City Council on December 8. “We anticipate a two to three year build-out plan that will bring a Gigabit to the home for close to 100 percent of the city.”

For additional articles about the California broadband conferences, please visit: https://broadbandbreakfast.com/2015/11/community-broadband-center-leaders-to-gather-in-silicon-valley-for-anchornets-and-ntia-event-on-november-16-17/

Drew Clark is the Chairman of the Broadband Breakfast Club. He tracks the development of Gigabit Networks, broadband usage, the universal service fund and wireless policy @BroadbandCensus. He is also Of Counsel with the firm of Best Best & Krieger LLP, with offices in California and Washington, DC. He works with cities, special districts and private companies on planning, financing and coordinating efforts of the many partners necessary to construct broadband infrastructure and deploy “Smart City” applications. You can find him on LinkedIN and Twitter. The articles and posts on BroadbandBreakfast.com and affiliated social media 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

Experts Say Partnerships Key for Downtown City Connectivity

‘Simple and regular community engagement is needed.’

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NASHVILLE, June 22, 2022 – While service providers plan on using fiber to revitalize downtown areas, experts say community engagement with local businesses is key to facilitate the construction process.

“Simple and regular community engagement is needed,” Nathan Hoople, senior project manager at engineering consulting firm Ditesco, said at the Fiber Connect conference on June 13.

Ryan Smith, engineering manager of the City of Loveland and Pulse Broadband,  said there is a “cry for downtown city coverage.” Panelists agreed that regular community involvement in the broadband infrastructure process is key to getting more broadband access in downtown areas.

Hoople stated that because fiber infrastructure construction can be costly, partnerships are key to establish trust and having an efficient installation process for downtown project success. This can have a “tremendous impact on long term investment.”

Effective communication with local leaders and workers allows for a more efficient installation process, said Hoople. “Know exactly how you can serve every building on the block, so you don’t have to rip up the sidewalk in three months.”

Darren Archibald from software and cloud company Calix agreed with the service provider and community partner approach to better downtown access. He added that with this, this “build[s] brand credibility and reliability” making the community aware of the service and why it is beneficial.

Smith emphasized that a specific relationship with individuals in public works is critical for downtown construction. It “would help with permitting, inspections, final close outs and to coordinate with other street projects,” said Smith. “Those relationships go a long way.”

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Digital Inclusion

Samantha Schartman-Cycyk: Three Keys to Building Transformative Broadband Plans

‘While the federal government’s infrastructure funding creates unique opportunities, it also exposes challenges that states and tribes must get in front of to ensure that funding is sustainable and implementation is effective.’

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The author of this Expert Opinion is Samantha Schartman-Cycyk, President of the Marconi Society

This week, I am thrilled to join state, local and tribal leaders from across the U.S. as we convene in Cleveland, Ohio, for the Broadband Access Summit. As a local and long-time advocate for digital inclusion, I am proud that the Pew Charitable Trusts and Next Century Cities selected Cleveland, one of the least connected cities in the country, as the site for a timely conversation about how we can effectively spend the unprecedented levels of federal funding for broadband infrastructure.

While the federal government’s infrastructure funding creates unique opportunities, it also exposes challenges that states and tribes must get in front of to ensure that funding is sustainable and implementation is effective.

The good news is that digital equity is finally front and center—where it belongs—and it has taken nearly twenty years of advocacy and practice to get us to this point.

Following are three key lessons I have learned to ensure efforts to expand connectivity are community oriented and sustainable.

1. Bring in local leadership—now

Across the country, areas that have a dedicated local leadership responsible solely for digital equity and inclusion are outpacing their counterparts. Someone, or ideally a team, needs to wake up every day thinking about what digital equity means in their community, how to make a reality in a way that supports key priorities, and where the true needs are. We have seen benefits in cities such as Detroit and Seattle, who have taken this approach.

We must support these leaders with accurate data. At the Marconi Society, a nonprofit that champions digital equity, I helped launch the National Broadband Mapping Coalition to help leaders from rural communities and urban ‘digital deserts’ identify broadband gaps. The NBMC has developed a no-cost mapping toolkit to help educate and guide communities.

2. Plan for sustainability while you have strong funding

We need to anchor digital inclusion efforts to long-term state programs to solidify funding and reinforce the intersectional impact of digital inclusion. Typically, digital inclusion programs blossom within the period of investment but falter when funding runs out, only to peak again when new grants or federal money become available.

This process wastes resources, relationships, and time, resulting in stop-and-start programs that aren’t able to address residents’ needs nor build momentum.

For example, a state like Maine with an older rural population is likely to prioritize services that allow for aging in place and telemedicine care for seniors. States like Utah or Texas, with relatively young populations, might place a higher priority on education and K–12 STEM pipelines. This alignment will allow state leaders to prioritize and bake sustainability into their broadband plans, create digital equity programs that support their priorities, and incorporate data collection into their work.

3. Create the workforce your state will need

In order to implement strong broadband plans that create true digital equity, state and local governments need a pipeline of people who understand the unique intersection of technology, policy, and grassroots digital inclusion work needed to bridge the digital divide. As of last year, nearly 20 states did not even have a dedicated broadband office to begin this work. With funding already being dispersed to states, we are at a critical moment.

To help create this workforce, the Marconi Society conceptualized and is developing the first-ever “Digital Inclusion Leadership” professional certificate with Arizona State University. The program will launch in Fall 2022 and will include top-ranked professors and leading industry experts as teachers and advisors.

I believe that this interdisciplinary workforce will continue to be in high demand as states integrate digital equity into their long-term priorities.

After years of helping to lay the groundwork for the current burst of funding and activity around digital equity, I can say that our work has only just begun. We have the gift of beginning with knowledge and funding that can be truly transformative. The digitally equitable future we are fighting for is closer than it has ever been before—let’s make sure we get this right.

Samantha Schartman-Cycyk is President of the Marconi Society, a nonprofit organization dedicated to advancing digitally equitable communities by empowering change agents across sectors. Over her 20-year career, she has built forward-thinking programs and tools to drive impact on digital inclusion at the local and national levels, through projects with the National Telecommunications and Information Administration (NTIA), community training, and data collecting efforts. The Marconi Society celebrates and supports visionaries building tomorrow’s technologies upon the foundation of a connected world we helped create. 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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Education

Fiber Broadband Companies and Consultants Tout Their Work for Social Good

Fiber providers, equipment companies and consultants discussed their work in communities in a session at Fiber Connect

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Photo of Ritchie Sorrells of GVTC Communications, Hu Meena of C Spire, Ji Soo Song of Education Department's Office of Educational Technology and Keven Morgan of Clearfield by Drew Clark (left to right).

June 16, 2022 – Leading fiber broadband platforms are hoping to positively impact future generations beyond fiber deployment through education programs for youth, scholarship awards, and traditional community service events, said panelists at Fiber Connect event Tuesday.

The panel discussion, according to promotional material for the panel in advance of the session at the conference, “represented a new level of commitment based on the belief that operators have a responsibility to make the communities they serve even better.” The showcase panel was a way for the Fiber Broadband Association to highlight the work of providers, equipment vendors, consultants and government officials.

Companies are particularly focused on how to influence following generations for good. C-Spire is working with schools in Science, Technology, Engineering, and Math education, and it provides programs for youth to learn coding and participate in coding challenges hosted by C-Spire.

Working with the state of Mississippi, fiber provider C-Spire made computer science education available to all K-12 students in the state and donated $1 million for teacher training. C-Spire also provided more than $3 million in scholarships for higher education.

GVTC Communications, a consultant to the telecom industry, works with local nonprofits, churches, schools, and businesses to donate full thanksgiving meals to families in need every year since 2012.

Listening to the needs of the community is essential to make an impact, agreed the panel. “When you have listening as your core value, you find out things that you can really make a difference in,” said Kevin Morgan, chief marketing officer at Clearfield, a provider of equipment for fiber builds.

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