Connect with us

Broadband's Impact

Register to Attend the Rural Telecommunications Congress Program at Broadband Communities Summit



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
Track Session
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)

4:10 pm – 5:00 pm
Track Session
What are Government Officials and Private Companies Doing to Fill the Void?

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,

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
Track Session
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
Track Session
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

Scott Behn – CEO, Mossaic Telecom
Brian Thomason – CEO, Blue Valley Network Companies
George Plisinki, II – Telecom Operations Manager, NineStar Connect

2:30 pm – 3:30 pm
Track Session
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
Track Session
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.

Bruce Patterson – Technology Director, City of Ammon, Idaho
Bryan Adams – Director of Sales & Marketing, LS Networks

Thursday, May 4

9:10 am – 10:00 am
Track Session
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

Bruce Patterson – Technology Director, City of Ammon, Idaho
Leo Carlson – Business & Technology Manager, Norvado
Rick Smith – General Services Director, City of Cortez

10:10 am – 11:00 am
Track Session
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
Track Session
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

John Windhausen – Executive Director SHELB, Washington DC
Mark Johnson – Vice President, the Quilt, and former Director of USCANN
Will Aycock – Greenlight  General Manager

Breakfast Media LLC CEO Drew Clark has led the Broadband Breakfast community since 2008. An early proponent of better broadband, better lives, he initially founded the Broadband Census crowdsourcing campaign for broadband data. As Editor and Publisher, Clark presides over the leading media company advocating for higher-capacity internet everywhere through topical, timely and intelligent coverage. Clark also served as head of the Partnership for a Connected Illinois, a state broadband initiative.

Broadband's Impact

Tech Trade Group Report Argues for USF Funding from Broadband Companies

Consulting firm Brattle Group said in a report the move would be economically sound.



Screenshot of Chip Pickering, INCOMPAS CEO

WASHINGTON, September 19, 2023 – Tech company trade group INCOMPAS and consulting firm Brattle Group released on Tuesday a report arguing for adding broadband providers as contributors to the Universal Service Fund.

The USF spends roughly $8 billion each year to support four programs that provide internet subsidies to low-income households, health care providers, schools, and libraries. The money comes from a tax on voice service providers, causing lawmakers to look for alternative sources of funding as more Americans switch from phone lines to broadband services.

The Federal Communications Commission administers the fund through the Universal Service Administration Company, but has left it to Congress to make changes to the contribution pool.

The report argues that broadband providers should be one of those sources. It cites the fact that USF funds are largely used for broadband rather than voice services and that broadband adoption is increasing as phone line use decreases.

“The USF contribution base needs to change to account for the fact that connectivity implies not just voice telephone services, but predominantly broadband internet access,” the report says.

It also rebuts arguments for adding tech companies like INCOMPAS members Google and Amazon to the contribution pool, saying they represent a less stable source of income for the program and that added fees for services like streaming could affect . 

The report is the latest salvo in an ongoing dispute between tech companies and broadband providers over who should support the USF in the future, with broadband companies arguing big tech should be tapped for funding as they run businesses on the networks supported by the fund.

Sens. Ben Lujan, D-N.M., and John Thune, R-S.D. established in May a senate working group to explore potential reforms to the program. The group heard comments in August  from associations of tech and broadband companies, each outlining arguments for including the other industry in the USF contribution base.

Continue Reading

Broadband's Impact

Florida Broadband Grants, Support for Microsoft-Activision, IQ Fiber Investment

Comcast, Conexon, and Cox received $247 million in Florida broadband grants.



Photo of fiber-optic installation from 2018 by CTA

September 18, 2023 – Service providers Comcast, Conexon, and Cox are receiving the biggest awards totaling $247 million in Broadband Grants in the state of Florida, Telecompetitor revealed Thursday.

Cox is receiving $80 million for 11 projects, Comcast is getting $60 million for 34 projects, and Conexon is receiving roughly $40 million. Additional companies receiving funding include, Charter Communications, AT&T, CenturyLink, Suwanee Valley Electric Cooperative, Consolidated, TDS, IBT, and Myakka, Telecompetitor noted. 

The state announced the $247 million in broadband grants this July, but did not include the names of the providers who would be providing the services.

The grants were made possible through Florida’s Broadband Infrastructure Program, which received funding through the Treasury’s Capital Projects Fund. 

Nine Amicus briefs filed in support of Microsoft’s purchase of Activision Blizzard 

Nine amicus briefs were filed Thursday in support of Microsoft’s $68.7 billion purchase of Activision-Blizzard by a group of parties that included the U.S. Chamber of Commerce and Communications Workers of America among others.

The briefs come in response to the Federal Trade Commission’s attempt to appeal its loss against Microsoft to prevent the sale in the United States, alleging that Microsoft’s acquisition of Activision-Blizzard would allow it to manipulate access to Activision’s products for rival gaming consoles to Microsoft’s Xbox, therefore suppressing competition in the gaming industry.

“This Commission’s hostility to the procompetitive and efficiency-enhancing prospects of mergers is well-known—but the Commission’s position is not supported by merger case law,” said Bilal Sayyed, TechFreedom senior competition counsel, former director of the FTC’s Office of Policy Planning. 

Among the briefs released, five independent publishers and studios that included Curve Digital, Finji, iam8bit, Strange Scaffold, and Studio Wildcard – going under “amici”’ in support of the acquisition – hint the deal will positively benefit the development community.

“Amici are five independent companies, of all shapes and sizes, that publish or develop video games for a range of game-streaming platforms, including Microsoft’s Xbox Game Pass service on Xbox,” the brief stated. “Thus having first-hand experience with Microsoft’s Game Pass subscription and its effects on the market for independently published and developed games.

“While the FTC argues that the merger will stifle competition, amici have had precisely the opposite experience with Microsoft’s Game Pass service.”

In June 2022, the CWA was able to enforce a Labor Neutrality Agreement with Microsoft if the acquisition were approved. Under the agreement, workers with Activision Blizzard would be able “to freely make a choice about union representation.”

“While the labor neutrality agreement at Activision does not take effect until the merger closes, Microsoft has already proven its commitment to abide by the agreement by extending its provisions to its own employees,” CWA wrote on their website.

IQ Fiber starts construction of fiber-optic network in northwest Gainesville, $40 million invested in phase one of project

IQ Fiber has started its first phase of construction Friday, a $40-million investment to bring a fiber-optic network to the Northwest Gainesville and Alachua County in Florida.

The company, based in Jacksonville, is bringing its services to Florida’s Alachua, Duval, Clay, Nassau and St. Johns counties, which is its “first major network expansion outside of the Jacksonville region.”

IQ Fiber expects online service to be available for “a few” Northwest Gainesville neighborhoods near the start of 2024. 

Gainesville Mayor Harvey Ward said in a press release that extending broadband competition in the community was always a priority and is hopeful that IQ Fiber’s presence will provide a plethora of opportunities for the neighboring communities.

Since starting in 2021, the company has developed over 600 miles of fiber-optic cable across North Florida. 

Continue Reading

Digital Inclusion

Broadband Association Argues Providers Not Engaged in Rollout Discrimination

Trade group says telecoms are not discriminating when they don’t build in financially difficult areas.



Image of redlining from historic map of the Home Owners’ Loan Corporation of Richmond, Virginia, from PBS.

WASHINGTON, September 18, 2023 – Broadband association US Telecom sent a letter to the Federal Communications Commission last week saying internet service providers don’t build in certain areas because it is financially difficult, not because they are being discriminatory.

The FCC proposed two definitions of digital discrimination in December 2022: The first definition includes practices that, absent technological or economic constraints, produce differential outcomes for individuals based a series of protected characteristics, including income, race, and religion. The second definition is similar but adds discriminatory intent as a necessary factor.

“To make business determinations regarding capital allocation, an ISP must consider a host of commercially important factors, none of which involve discrimination,” said the September 12 letter from USTelecom, which represents providers including AT&T, Verizon, Lumen, Brightspeed, and Altafiber.

“As the Commission has consistently recognized, such deployment is extremely capital-intensive…This deployment process is therefore subject to important constraints related to technical and economic feasibility” added the letter.

US Telecom explained that ISPs’ will choose to invest where they expect to see a return on the time and money they put into building broadband.

The association added that factors like population density, brand reputation, competition and the availability of the providers’ other services all go into deciding where broadband gets deployed.

“The starting point of the Commission’s approach to feasibility should be a realistic acknowledgement that all ISPs must prioritize their resources, even those that invest aggressively in deployment,” added the letter.

The association also highlighted the fact that it hopes to see as little government intervention in broadband deployment activity as possible, a concern that has been echoed by lobbyists before.

“Rather than attempting to use Section 60506 to justify taking extra-statutory intrusive actions that could paradoxically undermine ongoing broadband investment, the Commission must enable ISPs to make decisions based on their own consideration of the kinds of feasibility factors discussed above” read the letter.

Section 60506 of the Infrastructure, Investment and Jobs Act says that the FCC may implement new policies to ensure equal access to broadband.

The FCC is also looking to develop guidelines for handling digital discrimination complaints filed against broadband providers.

USTelecom said that ISPs should be allowed to demonstrate financial and logistical concerns as a rebuttal to those claims, in addition to disclosing other reasons for directing investment elsewhere to demonstrate non-discriminatory practice.

Reasons for investment elsewhere would include rough terrain, low-population density, MTE owners not consenting to deployment, zoning restrictions, or historical preservation review.

“To aid in the success of the Infrastructure Act and facilitate equal access, the Commission must continue to foster an environment conducive to ISP investment in the high-speed broadband infrastructure that Congress rightly views as central to our connected future,” concluded the letter.

Continue Reading

Signup for Broadband Breakfast News

Broadband Breakfast Research Partner