News from the Rural Telecommunications Congress

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The Extraordinary Open Access Network in Ammon, Idaho

The Institute for Local Self Reliance recently published this video about the open-access network in Ammon, Idaho. Better than anything that I've seen recently, this video captures the essence of the potential behind open-access networks.

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USDA Announces Telemedicine Funding to Address Opioid Epidemic in Appalachia

ABINGDON, Virginia, June 30, 2016 – Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack today announced five Distance Learning and Telemedicine (DLT) grant awards to help provide treatment for the growing opioid epidemic in rural central Appalachia. Vilsack made the announcement as he hosted a town hall in Abingdon to address the opioid crisis in rural America, the first in a series. In January, President Obama tasked Secretary Vilsack, who is chair of the White House Rural Council, with leading a federal interagency effort focused on rural opioid use.

"Because addiction treatment is often out of reach for many in rural America, expanding access to telemedicine is an important step towards making sure rural communities have the tools they need to fight the opioid epidemic," Vilsack said. "USDA is committed to provide the critical resources rural areas need to reduce the staggering increase in opioid overdose deaths that is driving up health care costs and devastating communities."

Today's announcement is the first part of a new round of DLT projects that are to be announced this summer and includes nearly $1.4 million for five projects in Kentucky, Tennessee and Virginia to help rural areas address the opioid epidemic.

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Broadband Communities Summit Opens in Austin, Texas

AUSTIN, April 5, 2016 - The Broadband Communities Summit opened on Tuesday with a remembrance of Scott DeGarmo, the former CEO of the company that hosts the conference, and which has blossomed into a celebration of the impact of broadband on the lives of everyday citizens. 

Kicking off the conference was a panel discussion about the role of "Internet of Things" and its impact on urban and rural communities. Led by a presentation made by Florence Hudson of Internet2, the discussion focused heavily upon the benefits -- and risks -- of the Internet of Things.


The Rural Telecommunications Congress' track of panels in the programs begins at 3 p.m. in the Wedgewood Room, with a Session on "Ensuring State Involvement in Broadband Development: A Blue Ribbon Panel of State Broadband Leaders."

Moderating the event will be Michael Curri, president of the Strategic Networks Group, and a member of the board of the RTC, with panelists from the states of Colorado, Kentucky, Tennessee, Utah, and Washington.

On Tuesday, RTC and SNG released the results of a survey of state broadband offices. The report is titled "The 50 States of Broadband: A state-by-state study of the state of broadband investment and activity in each American state."

Of the 48 states responding the survey, 25 of them have a state broadband office. But only 28 percent surveyed said the state had annual funding to support broadband initiatives. However, only nine states are funding planning and support activities going forward.

Following the blue ribbon panel will be a session on "Extending Middle-Mile Fiber Networks to Last-Mile Homes in Rural Areas."

Moderated by Joel Muler of ex2 Technologies and a member of the RTC Board, it will include, as panelists, Sandeep Taxali of the Commerce Department's National Telecommunications and Information Administration, Chief Technology Officer Rob Henry of the City of Davenport, Iowa; Chris Janson, a board member of OpenCape and the RTC; and Brad Moline of Allo Communications.

Rural Telecommunications Congress Releases Report on State Broadband Offices

AUSTIN, April 5, 2016 - The Rural Telecommunications Congress and the Strategic Networks Group released the results from a survey of 48 state broadband offices. The report is titled "The 50 States of Broadband: A state-by-state study of the state of broadband investment and activity in each American state," and will be released on Wednesday.

Of the 48 states responding the survey, 25 of them have a state broadband office. But only 28 percent surveyed said the state had annual funding to support broadband initiatives. However, only nine states are funding planning and support activities going forward.

The full report will be released on Wednesday.


Don't Miss the Implications of Internet of Things for Rural and Urban America

The Broadband Communities Summitt will kick off this year in Austin, Texas, at 8 a.m. Tuesday, April 5, with a discussion of "The Internet of Things: Financial and Societal Implications for Rural and Urban America." Here's the panel description for the event:

Tuesday, April 5, 2016
8:00 am – 9:00 am

Featured Keynote Address: “The Internet of Things: Financial and Societal Impacts on Urban and Rural America” 
The Internet of Things promises new forms of automation – and new uses for broadband technology – but activities have been scattered among disparate applications. How will cities and rural areas alike benefit from “smart cities” and other Internet of Things applications?

Introduced by Drew Clark, President, Rural Telecommunications Congress; Of Counsel, Best Best & Krieger, LLP

Mark Johnson – Chief Technology Officer and Vice President of Data Architecture, MCNC

Florence D. Hudson – Senior Vice President and Chief Innovation Officer, Internet2

Paul Hopingardner – Deputy CIO, City of Austin
Steven Garbrecht – Director, GE Digital 
Patrick Sims – CTO, Lightcore Group, Inc. 
Anne Schwieger – Broadband and Digital Equity Advocate, City of Boston Department of Innovation & Technology 

This article from PublicCEO paints a picture of some of its implications for urban areas. Our panelists at the event will help to flesh out how the IoT will also impact rural areas:



What the Internet of Things Means for Local Governments

What the Internet of Things Means for Local Governments

By Drew Clark.

Increasingly, computing power is everywhere. The personal computer that once resided on the desktop migrated to the hip pocket and the wrist watch, and now to eyewear and clothing.

Welcome the “Internet of Things,” or IoT in tech jargon. 

We may encounter these tiny technologies first in our homes or at work. But the IoT already has big implications for city leaders and managers charged with building “Smart Cities” and making their governments more responsive. 

The IoT consumer gadgets on the market include smart doorbells, WiFi enabled toothbrushes, refrigerators that order groceries and ovens that can be scheduled to cook dinner. What has become known as the Internet of Things occurs when: 1.) digital sensors can be embedded onto almost any “thing,” 2.) almost every electronic device has some measurable processing power, and 3.) these devices can be networked together through the Internet. 

Among the areas where the civic IoT is advancing most rapidly are in water management and waste removal, the electrical “smart grid,” and improving transportation — whether it be public transit, smoother automobile traffic or parking cars.


The Role of the RUS in Promoting Broadband

The Role of the Rural Utilities Service in Promoting Broadband 

Broadband Communities Vice Chairman Hilda Legg, the 15th administrator of RUS, interviews Brandon McBride, the 19th (and current) administrator, about RUS's role in helping to get broadband to rural areas of the United States. Find out about RUS's current programs, which entities are eligible for funding, how the USF transformation affects RUS borrowers' ability to repay their loans - and when rural America will be gigafied.
Hilda Legg
Vice Chairman
Brandon McBride

Key Rural Broadband Leaders to Appear at RTC Event in Austin, April 5-7

AUSTIN, Texas - In less than two weeks....

The Rural Telecommunications Congress Comes to Austin on April 5-7, 2016

In its more than 15 year history, the Rural Telecommunications Congress has served to drive high-quality broadband to rural parts of America. This year’s program at the Broadband Communities Conference has a simple message: Your Rural Community Can Thrive with Better Broadband, Better Lives.

When it comes to broadband access, our organization believes passionately that Rural America cannot be left behind. We also believe that – when empowered by better broadband options – Rural America has the capability to catch fire and create economic and social benefits for the entire community.

The RTC has three core priorities:
1. Statewide broadband planning
2. Next-generation infrastructure investments
3. Educating individuals and organizations on how easy it is to effectively use broadband

Our program this year showcases this diversity of broadband enthusiasm, including planning, infrastructure and education. From our keynote presentation on the “Internet of Things” and its implications for rural and urban areas to a gathering of the key stakeholders for rural broadband advocacy, you won’t want to miss this year’s Rural Telecommunications Congress event at the Broadband Communities Summit.

• We’ll have state leaders addressing the impacts of broadband data, mapping and planning

• We’ll have exciting discussion about middle-mile and last-mile networks

• We’ll have an exclusive question and answer session with the USDA’s Rural Utilities Service Administrator 

• We’ll have a leading voice at the Federal Communications Commission on changes to the Connect America Fund

• We’ll have a special “Town Hall Meeting” on the Broadband Opportunity Council Report – and what it means for Rural America.

• And more!

Here is the complete program.

Register for the event at the special RTC Discount code by clicking HERE.

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