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The Moderators of 4 Panels at Digital Infrastructure Investment 2021 Preview the Mini-Conference

Want a sneak peak of Digital Infrastructure Investment 2021 on Monday? Moderators for the event’s four sessions preview their panels.



Our Broadband Breakfast Live Online events take place every Wednesday at 12 Noon ET. You can watch the September 22, 2021, event on this page. You can also PARTICIPATE in the current Broadband Breakfast Live Online event. REGISTER HERE.

Wednesday, September 22, 2021, 12 Noon ET — Last Call for Digital Infrastructure Investment 2021

Join us on September 22, 2021, for this special Broadband Breakfast Live Online as we get ready for Digital Infrastructure Investment 2021. In this session, we’ll hear from the moderators of each of the four Topics that we’ll consider at the mini-conference! As a reminder, Digital Infrastructure Investment 2021 is taking place IN PERSON at the Broadband Communities Summit in Houston, Texas, and also LIVE ONLINE. See below for registration information.

Panelists for the event:

  • Joan Engebretson, Executive Editor, Telecompetitor
  • Mari Silbey,  Senior Director of Partnerships and Outreach, US Ignite
  • Chris Mitchell, Director, Community Broadband Networks Initiative
  • Drew Clark (moderator), Editor and Publisher of Broadband Breakfast

  • Joan Engebretson (Moderator of Topic 2) has been writing about technology and telecommunications since 1992. She is currently executive editor for Telecompetitor, a news website focused on broadband. Joan has a BA in journalism and an MBA from the University of Michigan. She has won awards for her commentary from the American Society of Business Publication Editors and in min’s Editorial and Design awards.
  • Mari Silbey (Moderator of Topic 4) is Senior Director of Partnerships and Outreach for US Ignite, and Program Director for the Platforms for Advanced Wireless Research (PAWR) program, a $100 million initiative funded by the National Science Foundation and a consortium of more than 30 wireless companies and associations. Mari has 20 years of experience in communications and technology. She has worked previously as a writer, analyst and consultant in the private sector, and as a journalist covering broadband and wireless infrastructure.
  • Chris Mitchell (Moderator of Topic 3) is Director of the Institute for Local Self Reliance’s Community Broadband Network Initiative. His work focuses on helping communities ensure that the telecommunications networks upon which they depend are accountable to the community. He was honored as one of the 2012 Top 25 in Public Sector Technology by Government Technology, which honors the top “Doers, Drivers, and Dreamers” in the nation each year. Originally published on, this piece is part of a collaborative reporting effort between Broadband Breakfast and the Community Broadband Networks program at ILSR.
  • Drew Clark (Moderator of Topic 1, and of this preview session), Editor 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. As a journalist, Drew brings experts and practitioners together to advance the benefits provided by broadband, and – building off his work with Broadband Census – was appointed Executive Director of the Partnership for a Connected Illinois under Gov. Pat Quinn. He is also the President of the Rural Telecommunications Congress.

WATCH HERE, or on YouTubeTwitter and Facebook

Digital Infrastructure Investment 2021 will take place at the Broadband Communities Summit, and online, on Monday, September 27, 2021. 

Join the Broadband Breakfast Club and Register for the LIVE ONLINE version of Digital Infrastructure Investment 2021 for the Member’s Rate of $149. First month of Broadband Breakfast Club Membership included.


This pathbreaking event brings the broadband infrastructure and financial services communities together to focus on the digital infrastructure and investment asset profile, including fiber, small cells, towers and data center assets required to support a 21st Century information economy.

The annual Digital Infrastructure Investment conference unites infrastructure investment fund managers, institutional investors, private equity and venture capitalists with senior broadband leaders and brings clarity to the next business model for advanced digital infrastructure.

Agenda for Digital Infrastructure Investment 2021

  • Introduction and Logistics for In-Person and Remote Attendees – 1:00 p.m. ET / 12:00 p.m. CT
  • Industry Keynote: What is Digital Infrastructure Investment? – 1:10 p.m. ET / 12:10 p.m. CT
  • Topic 1: Infrastructure Investment Funds – 1:35 p.m. ET / 12:35 p.m. CT
    • How will the Biden Administration’s broadband infrastructure package influence institutional investors? Will mergers and acquisitions accelerate in telecom?
    • Panelists:
      • Ryan Carr, Partner, MC Partners
      • Tom Coverick, Managing Director, Keybanc Capital Markets
      • Lindsay Miller, Partner, Ice Miller LLP
      • James Wagar, Partner, Frontbridge Capital
      • Drew Clark (moderator), Editor and Publisher, Broadband Breakfast
  • Broadband Breakfast Presentation: Lit Communities – 2:20 p.m. ET / 1:20 p.m. CT
  • Topic 2: Last Mile Digital Infrastructure – 2:30 p.m. ET / 1:30 p.m. CT
    • Ownership models are evolving. Who will play the lead role in constructing? What entities, including cities, will own digital assets? Who will manage the networks?
    • Panelists:
      • Monica Webb, Senior Director, Market Development and Strategic Partnerships, Ting Internet
      • John Burchett, Head of Public Policy, Government and Community Relations, Google Access and Google Fiber
      • Carter Old, Co-founder, President and Chief Growth Officer, Tachus LLC
      • Ramiro Gonzalez, Director of Government and Community Affairs, City of Brownsville
      • Julie Wheeler, President Commissioner, York County, PA
      • Joan Engebretson (moderator), Executive Editor, Telecompetitor 
  • Interactive Session with Broadband Breakfast and BroadbandNow – 3:15 p.m. ET / 2:15 p.m. CT
  • Break (10 minutes) – 3:30 p.m. ET / 2:30 p.m. CT
  • Policy Keynote Address: A Vision for Digital Infrastructure Investment – 3:40 p.m. ET / 2:40 p.m. CT
  • Broadband Breakfast Presentation: Render Networks – 4:05 p.m. ET / 3:05 p.m. CT
  • Broadband Breakfast Presentation: California Emerging Technology Fund – 4:10 p.m. ET / 3:10 p.m. CT
  • Topic 3: Public-Private Partnerships – 4:15 p.m. ET / 3:15 p.m. CT
    • Municipalities are becoming a leading voice in new digital infrastructure projects. How has their role changed the conversations around public-private partnerships?
    • Panelists:
      • Matt Schmit, Director, Illinois Office of Broadband
      • Chris Walker, Senior Executive Director of Infrastructure Strategy, Northwest Open Access Network
      • Nate Walowitz, Regional Broadband Program Director, Northwest Colorado Council of Governments
      • Sunne Wright McPeak, President and CEO, California Emerging Technology Fund
      • Chris Mitchell (moderator), Director, Community Broadband Networks Initiative
  • Broadband Breakfast Presentation: UTOPIA Fiber – 5:00 p.m. ET / 4:00 p.m. CT
  • Broadband Breakfast Presentation: SiFi Networks – 5:05 p.m. ET / 4:05 p.m. CT
  • Broadband Breakfast Presentation: Positron Access – 5:10 p.m. ET / 4:10 p.m. CT
  • Topic 4: The Future of Shared Infrastructure – 5:15 p.m. ET / 4:15 p.m. CT
    • Cellular towers were once proprietary, before carriers partnered with infrastructure owners. Will 5G deployment accelerate the deployment of shared real estate facilities?
    • Panelists:
      • Jonathan Adelstein, President and CEO, Wireless Industry Association 
      • Deborah Simpler, Co-founder and CEO, Althea Networks
      • Mari Silbey (moderator),  Senior Director of Partnerships and Outreach, US Ignite
  • Conference Conclusion – 6:00 p.m. ET / 5:00 p.m. CT

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.

Broadband Breakfast is a decade-old news organization based in Washington that is building a community of interest around broadband policy and internet technology, with a particular focus on better broadband infrastructure, the politics of privacy and the regulation of social media. Learn more about Broadband Breakfast.


How to Watch the Videos from the BEAD Implementation Summit

The recordings of all the videos from the BEAD Implementation Summit are available to Breakfast Club members.



Watch the videos from the BEAD Implementation Summit on September 21, 2023.

Those who attended the BEAD Implementation Summit or watched the webcast are able to access the videos. Members of the Broadband Breakfast Club also have access to the BEAD Implementation Summit videos, as well as videos of all in-person events.

If you missed BEAD Implementation Summit, sign up for Broadband Breakfast’s BEAD Starter Pack for $35/month (cancel anytime). You’ll get access to each of the Breakfast Club reports for the BEAD Implementation Summit:

Questions? Email!

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State Broadband Heads Address BEAD Implementation Focuses

Broadband leaders touched on letter of credit requirements, subgrant timelines, and speed test data.



Screenshot of the Broadband Breakfast Live Online Event

WASHINGTON, September 20, 2023 – Three state broadband leaders highlighted at a Broadband Breakfast Live Online event Wednesday key points of focus ahead of their implementation of the Broadband Equity, Access and Deployment program. 

The BEAD program allocates $42.5 billion to states for expanding broadband infrastructure. States are in the process of releasing their initial proposals for administering the program – due to the National Telecommunications and Information Administration by December 27 – and hearing public comments.

The conversation was a preview of some topics up for discussion with state broadband heads, BEAD and other federal grant program officials, and service providers at the Broadband Breakfast BEAD Implementation Summit Thursday. Registration is open for in-person and virtual attendance.

Subgrantee selection timeline

States will have one year from the approval of their initial proposals to award subgrants under the program and submit their final proposals to the NTIA. Those awards have to be allocated via a bidding process.

Getting that done will be difficult, said Jim Stritzinger, the head of South Carolina’s broadband office.

“It’s really, really hard to deploy $551 million in 12 months,” he said. “And other states have much larger allocations than ours, I don’t know how they’re going to do it.”

Brian Newby of the North Dakota Broadband Program, echoed the concern.

“I am concerned that there will be locations that just won’t be bid on,” he said, and a second round of bidding to hit those areas would be difficult to fit in before the deadline.

Stritzinger noted that state offices are permitted under NTIA rules to negotiate directly with providers to BEAD-supported infrastructure in areas missed by the bidding process, rather than open a second round, which could save time, he said.

Letters of credit

BEAD requires grant recipients to get letters of credit from banks for 25 percent of the funds they receive to undertake projects. The requirement has been flagged by the industry as potentially blocking smaller providers from being able to accept grants.

The requirement still applies to publicly owned entities, Vermont broadband director Christine Hallquist noted. That will be a problem in Vermont, she said, where some communications infrastructure is owned by coalitions of towns.

“Municipalities just do not have that kind of money,” she said.

Speed test data

The broadband heads also noted the importance of reliable locations in speed test data. When speed tests are run in computer browsers, as opposed to direct measurements from equipment or from GPS-enabled devices like smartphones, they have less precise locations attached to them.

“You could very easily see a bunch of speed tests stacking up on a single dot in the center of a zip code,” Stritzinger said. “You have to be careful about that.”

Hallquist emphasized collecting speed data from different points along a network’s infrastructure to pinpoint where speed loss is happening.

“We want to help people address all of the issues that are a part of that stream of data,” she said.

Our Broadband Breakfast Live Online events take place on Wednesday at 12 Noon ET. Watch the event on Broadband Breakfast, or REGISTER HERE to join the conversation.

Wednesday, September 20, 2023 – Preview of BEAD Implementation Summit

Ahead of the Broadband Breakfast BEAD’s Implementation Summit on September 21, this free live online event will offer a sneak peek into what the summit has in store. It will set the stage for the upcoming panels, including a roundtable with state broadband officers, a discussion of past broadband efforts, the role of public-private partnerships and a town hall session on problems still to tackle. Tune in to see what’s in store at the BEAD Implementation Summit in Washington on Thursday, September 21, 2023.


  • Brian Newby, Director, North Dakota Broadband Program Director
  • Jim Stritzinger, Director, South Carolina Broadband Office
  • Christine Hallquist, Executive Director of the Vermont Community Broadband Board
  • Drew Clark (moderator), Editor and Publisher, Broadband Breakfast

Register for the BEAD Implementation Summit on September 21, 2023.

Brian Newby leads the North Dakota State Broadband Office, targeting broadband for all in North Dakota by administering more than $175 million in federal grants. Formerly served as the State Election Director at the North Dakota Secretary of State; previously was the Executive Director for U.S. Election Assistance Commission, a federal government agency, and Election Commissioner for Johnson County, the largest jurisdiction in Kansas and in the Kansas City metropolitan area. Before elections, worked as director of strategy for Sprint’s $10 billion Global Markets Group.

As part of the South Carolina Office of Regulatory Staff, Jim Stritzingerserves as Director of the Broadband Office which was formed in July 2021. He manages a full-time team of five and is directly responsible for ensuring the rapid deployment of broadband infrastructure statewide and overseeing $1 billion in state and federal grant investments.

Christine Hallquist is the Executive Director of the Vermont Community Broadband Board. Their mission is to connect every Vermont address to fiber, make it affordable and maximize positive social impact. Christine was the former CEO of Vermont Electric Cooperative.

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.

Register for the BEAD Implementation Summit on September 21, 2023.

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Broadband Breakfast on Wednesday, October 25, 2023 – Broadband Deployment from India, Australia, South Africa

What can the United States learn from fascinating broadband deployments in the Global South?



Our Broadband Breakfast Live Online events take place on Wednesday at 12 Noon ET. Watch the event on Broadband Breakfast, or REGISTER HERE to join the conversation.

Wednesday, October 25 – International Examples of Broadband Deployment – India, Australia, South Africa

As the United States channels unprecedented investments into broadband expansion, the nation’s counterparts worldwide are also ramping up their deployment efforts. In India, nearly 900 million out of its 1.4 billion population have adopted broadband services as of December 2022. Meanwhile, Australia said it’s on track to deliver broadband download speeds of at least 500 megabits per second to 90 percent of its homes and businesses by 2025. Across the ocean, South Africa is also making great strides in broadband buildouts. What lies behind such rapid expansion in those countries? How do they compare to the U.S.’s initiative under the bipartisan infrastructure law?


  • Panelists have been invited
  • Drew Clark (moderator), Editor and Publisher, Broadband Breakfast

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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