Gain insights about changes to Universal Service Fund and new broadband tools

The Rural Telecommunications Congress program at the 2017 Broadband Communities Summit in Dallas on May 2-4, 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 attend the entire Broadband Communities Summit program at the lowest possible rate. The cost to attend is $350.

Below is a complete list of the Rural Broadband Track at the summit. In coming days, we'll be highlighting individual programs that are part of the program.

Tuesday, May 2

3:00 pm – 4:00 pm
Track Session
A VOICE FROM WASHINGTON
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.

Moderator:
Keith Montgomery
 – CFO, Declaration Networks, Group, Inc.

Panelists:
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
MAPPING BETTER BROADBAND
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?

Moderator:
Drew Clark
 – President, Rural Telecommunications Congress; Editor & Publisher, BroadbandBreakfast.com

Panelist:
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 and Maryland to Tennessee.

Moderator:
Eric Ogle
 – Treasurer, Rural Telecommunications Congress; Senior Consultant, Magellan Advisors

Panelists:
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.

Moderator:
Josh Seidemann
 – Vice President of Policy, NTCA

Presenters:
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.

Moderator:
Gene Crick
 – Rural Telecommunications Congress

Panelists:
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
Financing the Last Mile with an Essential Services Approach
Municipal networks that have the benefit of leveraging a utility (electric, gas, etc.) have shown the ability to build and launch community service at a successful level in terms of take-rates, financing, and operations. But what happens when you community doesn’t have that head start to municipal broadband goodness? And what happens if you’re also in an underserved community like much of rural America. Rural broadband subscribers receive half the bandwidth for the same price as their urban counterparts. 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 sustainable, low-risk approach. We will also discuss how to take a holistic approach to examining where costs can be saved and avoided while the tax base grows to pay for the network.

Moderator:
Michael Curri
 – Founder & President, Strategic Networks Group, Inc.

Panelists:
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.

Moderator:
Joel Mulder
 – Vice President of Sales, ex2 Technology

Presenters:
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.

Moderator:
Frank Odasz
 – President, Lone Eagle Consulting

Presenter:
Michael Liimatta – Professor, City Vision University; Former Manager of ConnectHome at HUD


11:10 am – 12:00 pm
Track Session
BETTER BROADBAND POLICY
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.

Moderator:
Jane Smith Patterson
 – Partner, Broadband Catalysts, LLP

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

REGISTER TODAY to attend the RTC sessions by using the Rural Telecommunications Code discount code of RTC350. This registration code entitles you to attend the entire Broadband Communities Summit program at the lowest possible rate. The cost to attend is $350.

Drew Clark, President
Rural Telecommunications Congress
http://www.ruraltelecon.org/

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