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Exciting Rural Telecommunications Congress Sessions at Broadband Communities Summit



Don’t missing the exciting program of the Rural Telecommunications Congress in Austin, Texas, from April 9, 2019-April 11, 2019. The program is listed below.

To sign up at the Rural Telecommunications Congress rate by visiting the RTC web site, or by visiting the Broadband Communities web site. (Make sure to select “CODE HOLDERS” radio button and use VIP Code RTC410)

8:00 am – 8:45 am

General Session

The Big Picture


Jim Baller – President, Baller Stokes & Lide, PC
Bryan Rader – President, UpStream Network
Drew Clark – Chairman and Publisher,, President, Rural Telecommunications Congress

3:00 pm – 4:00 pm

Track Session

Rural Funding 1: State of Play From the USDA, the NTIA and CoBank

Yes, there’s an urban-rural broadband divide. But the good news is there’s a lot of money to close it – so much that we have two panels on rural funding. First comes the state of play from the USDA (et al). There’s millions in the Farm Bill, millions more in the ReConnect program. And that’s not the end of federal funds.

Hilda Legg –  State Director of Kentucky, Rural Development, USDA

Brad Finstad 
– State Director of Minnesota, USDA
Karen Hanson – Manager, Partnerships, Interagency Affairs, NTIA, U.S. Department of Commerce
Graham Kaiser – Vice President, Electric Distribution, CoBank

4:10 pm -5:00 pm

Track Session

Rural Funding 2: Going After Private Funds… and Help Spur an Innovation Renaissance

Yes, there are bullish proponents of rural investment who tout the benefits of getting ahead of the pack to get their deployments funded. Come find out why… and what they’re anxious to invest in.

Tim Marema – Editor, The Daily Yonder

Nathan Ohle
 – Executive Director, RCAP, Inc.
Lindsey Brannon – Head of Finance, Neighborly
Deborah Simpier – Co-Founder, Althea


Wednesday, April 10

8:00 am – 8:50 am

Track Session

Wired and Wireless: What Technologies Best Meet the Needs of Rural America?

At times, the debate between fiber advocates and wireless providers can take on the trappings of a religious war. What technologies do rural communities need to thrive in the broadband era? This panel’s experts and observers will consider on-the-ground realities as they search for the answers.

Drew Clark
 – Chairman and Publisher,; President, Rural Telecommunications Congress

Dr. Christopher Ali, PhD – Assistant Professor-Department of Media Studies, University of Virginia
Keith Montgomery – Chief Financial Officer, Declaration Networks
Keith Gabbard – CEO, PRTC
Jameson Zimmer – Head of Product and Senior Analyst,


9:00 am – 9:50 am

Track Session

Rural Broadband as a Driver for State Broadband Initiatives

The State Broadband Initiatives are back! While many of these were created in the run-up to the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act, states are now finding that it makes sense to continue to fund these offices as a key driver of rural broadband initiatives. This panel will consider an array of approaches by states in their broadband initiatives, and the new role they are playing under the American Broadband Initiative.

Drew Clark
 – Chairman and Publisher,; President, Rural Telecommunications Congress

John Flanagan – Policy Advisor, Economic Development, Office of the Governor, State of Washington
Chris Pedersen – Vice President, Development and Planning, Connected Nation
Jeffrey Sural – Director, Broadband Infrastructure Office, North Carolina Department of Information Technology
Crystal Ivey – Broadband Director, Community and Rural Development, Tennessee Department of Economic and Community Development

10:00 am – 10:50 am

Track Session

In Sickness and In Health… Benefits of Marrying Telehealth and Community Broadband

A telehealth strategy can make funding your deployment easier, give your network a marketing edge and drive subscribers to your broadband network. This session aims to engage municipalities, co-ops and local ISPs with proven how-tos of designing that effective strategy, building telehealth partnerships and uncovering ways to use telehealth to increase broadband subscribers. Attendees will also go home from the “wedding celebration” understanding the different broadband design considerations for urban and rural communities.

Craig Settles – President, CJ Speaks

James Cowan – CEO and Founder, Docity
Kami Griffiths – Co-Founder and Executive Director, Community Tech Network
Margaret (Peg) Molloy – CEO, VistaLifeSciences, Inc.

12:45 pm – 2:00 pm

Cornerstone Awards Luncheon

Sponsored by Verizon

Keynote Address by:
Jannine Miller – Senior Advisor for Rural Infrastructure, USDA


Thursday, April 11

8:00 am – 9:00 am

Track Session

Turning Your Connection into Economic Opportunity

Many utilities and electric cooperatives are finding that, through local partnerships with existing Internet Service Providers, they can keep broadband deployment local while also bringing in new areas of expertise to rural areas. This session will explore how rural communities can leverage partnerships to keep broadband local and will look at what keeping broadband revenues local could mean for local economies.

Eric Ogle – Project Manager, Magellan Advisors

William Bradford – CEO, United Communications
Brad Gibson – Chief Cooperatives Business Officer, Middle Tennessee Electric Membership Corporation
Jonathan West – Chairman, Foursight Communications
Greg Williams – Executive Vice President and General Manager, Appalachian Electric Cooperative

9:10 am – 10:00 am

Track Session

Rural, Yes Rural, Broadband Success Stories

There is a digital divide that’s leaving parts of rural America behind. But the good news is there are small communities with proven broadband track records — fiber, wireless and cable – and you’ll meet them here. These panelists, from the East Coast to the West, have plenty to say about the obstacles and how they overcame them on the way to successful operations.

Jane Smith Patterson – Partner, Broadband Catalysts

Gene Scott
 – General Manager, Outside Plant, Greenlight Community Broadband, Wilson NC
Mark DeFalco – Manager, Appalachian Regional Commission
Ted Osborn – Senior Vice President of Strategy and Regulatory Affairs, Nextlink, Hudson, Texas

12:00 pm – 1:00 pm

General Session

Jim Baller
 – President, Baller Stokes & Lide, PC

Susan Crawford
 – John A. Reilly Clinical Professor of Law, Harvard Law School

The Coming Tech Revolution – And Why America Might Miss It 

That’s the title of fiber broadband champion and Harvard Law School professor Susan Crawford’s new book – and what you’ll hear her address at Thursday’s working lunch. The great promise of cheap, ultra-fast fiber-optic connectivity is limitless communications capacity that will radically transform everything from business, education and medical care to urban and rural problem-solving. Why might America miss out? Crawford notes that 84 percent of homes here are still connected to the internet through far more limited copper wire. China, on the other hand, is installing some 20,000 FTTH connections daily. Crawford has lots to say about the whys of America’s sluggish and haphazard efforts to switch to fiber and about the ways we can fix it. She’ll share them and follow up with a Q&A and book signing.

Book signing immediately following.

Sponsored by CTC

Drew Clark is the Editor and Publisher of 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.


FCC Announces $163 Million in Second Round of Approved RDOF Funding

The agency is reevaluating winning bids after asking providers to ensure census blocks aren’t already served.



Acting FCC Chairwoman Jessica Rosenworcel

WASHINGTON, October 7, 2021 – The Federal Communications Commission announced Thursday another approved round of funding from the $9.2-billion Rural Digital Opportunity Fund.

The $163 million in approved money will go to 42 providers who will drive fiber to the home for gigabit services covering 65,000 locations in 21 states over the next ten years, the FCC said Thursday.

“More help is on the way to households without broadband,” said FCC Acting Chairwoman Jessica Rosenworcel in a press release Thursday. “This is an important program for getting more Americans connected to high-speed internet, and we are continuing careful oversight of this process to ensure that providers meet their obligations to deploy in areas that need it.”

The FCC in July asked that providers conduct an assessment in areas for which they won money from the fund in December, because complaints emerged that the approved areas were already served with adequate connectivity.

The commission said 85 bidders chose not to pursue their bids in 5,089 census blocks because those areas were either served or could be wasted. Some attributed their enlightenment to updated FCC maps based on Form 477 data, an often criticized form of data collection that is reliant on service provider data.

The last round of approved money was last month, when the FCC approved a further 13 bidders.

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Varying Technologies Needed to Make Widespread Public Library Wi-Fi a Reality

From direct fiber connections to low-earth orbit satellites, libraries can provide public Wi-Fi through varying means.



Don Means from the Gigabit Libraries Network.

WASHINGTON, October 4, 2021 – The director of the Libraries Whitespace Project said libraries across the country will need varying ways to get connected and provide access to public Wi-Fi.

That means that while the “cheapest, most equitable, most economical way to connect every community with next generation broadband is to run fiber to all of the 17,000 libraries,” Don Means said Friday, other solutions will need to be considered where geography doesn’t allow for a direct fiber connection.

“Every community is a unique combination of density, topology, socioeconomics, existing infrastructure and also available spectrum and then whatever the local policy preferences are,” said Means, who was hosted by the Gigabit Libraries Network hosted as part of Libraries in Response series on Friday.

There is no one size fits all solution to connectivity, Means said. But vendors, he said, are often concerned with selling a single solution for the simple reason that it’s more efficient and profitable to do so.

A technology still in its infancy is low-earth orbit satellites for broadband, which hover closer to earth than traditional satellites and thus theoretically provide better connectivity than those flying higher above the earth’s surface. The first library in the world connected through LEO satellites is a tribal library located in northern New Mexico, Means said, noting that such technologies could help fill the connectivity gap.

SpaceX’s Starlink is racing to make its broadband constellation of LEOs a staple of rural and urban connectivity, as it has been beta testing its technology for months now.

Means added that some free Wi-Fi hotspots have served to cover entire communities.

“We talk about rural in terms of density, and we use the numbers of countywide density, people per square mile across the county, which is really low,” he said.

“But when you look at where people really live, most rural people live close together in small communities. It might be a mile or two across… which means that these few hotspots across town could cover the whole town.”

He used the example of the town of Plymouth, Nebraska, which set up a handful of these Wi-Fi access stations for $17,000 and gave the entire rural community access to the internet.

The GLN began the series in response to the pandemic, which made clear that broadband, connectivity, and the internet are fundamental to the nation’s wellbeing.

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Christopher Ali’s New Book Dissects Failures of Rural Broadband Policy and Leadership

“Farm Fresh Broadband” explains the world of broadband policy and provides solutions to bridge the digital divide.



WASHINGTON, September 24, 2021—In his most recent book, University of Virginia Professor Christopher Ali argues that the ongoing battle for improved connectivity is not only far from over, but also critically flawed.

“Farm Fresh Broadband” proposes a new approach to national rural broadband policy to narrow the rural-urban digital divide. In Ali’s view, the lack of coordinated, federal leadership and a failure to recognize the roles that local communities and municipalities need to play in the deployment of broadband has contributed to a lack of competition between carriers, and ultimately, higher costs to consumers.

Just two days after it was released, Ali sat down for a video interview with Broadband Breakfast Editor and Publisher Drew Clark to discuss his story – and Ali’s recommendations that resulted from his journey.

Ali raises the question about How the $6 billion in federal funds allocated to broadband is spent annually? Based on his findings, he makes policy recommendations to democratize rural broadband policy architecture and re-model it after the historic efforts to bring telephony services and electricity to Americans across the country.

In particular, Ali discusses how, in one chapter of his book, he raises the provocative question about whether “Good Is the Enemy of Great: The Four Failures of Rural Broadband Policy.” In his telling, less money, lower speed, and poor-quality broadband mapping have all contributed to an approach that, in seeking “good enough,” federal policy has failed Rural America.

Ali, an associate professor at UVA’s Department of Media Studies and a Knight News Innovation Fellow with the Tow Center for Digital Journalism at Columbia University, is also the chair of the Communication Law and Policy Division of the International Communications Association and the author of two books on localism in media, “Media Localism: The Policies of Place” (University of Illinois Press, 2017) and “Local News in a Digital World” (Tow Center for Digital Journalism, 2017)

“Farm Fresh Broadband: The Politics of Rural Connectivity” available at the MIT Press.

See Professor Ali’s recent Expert Opinion for Broadband Breakfast, “Christopher Ali: Is Broadband Like Getting Bran Flakes to the Home?

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