@fiberbroadband‘s president and CEO, Gary Bolton, opens #FiberConnect2022 to a record 3,000 attendees. His call to action to attendees is to meet with state and local policy officials to keep the fiber momentum going.
93 companies are on the waiting list to exhibit. Bolton promises to find a spot for them next year.
“We are at a transformative moment,” says Andy Berke, former Chattanooga Mayor & current Special Representative for Broadband at NTIA. He speaks of getting all citizens access to a minimum of 100/20 Mbps at affordable prices, with access to devices & training. He encourages attendees to get their states to get on board.
Berke goes on to say that, “Mapping is still an issue. We want to make sure we don’t fund two connections [to a given home]. The reason we are favoring fiber is that it is future proof. We want to be good stewards of tax dollars. We want to build it once. It is a longer process [fiber deployment]. Berke asks attendees to help get that message out to the general public.”
@SenatorHagerty points out how the pandemic highlighted the challenges of the digital divide. He says that TN’s economic success is due to close working relationships between state and local governments. Switching to his concerns, which includes cyber security. Mentions the Clean Network Initiative as an important foundation to protect networks against bad actors.
Access, adoption, and affordability is a common thread of the opening panel. Xochitil Torres Small, Under Secretary of Agriculture for Rural Development in the USDA, concisely explains how there are not one-size solutions to solving challenges of access, adoption, and affordability of broadband. For example, promotion of broadband, as was done with rural electrification, will be important in some communities to drive adoption.
In Maine, they have been working closely with communities to drive broadband solutions from the bottoms up, which helps drive adoption, says Peggy Schafer, Executive Director of Connect Maine.
“Quite a bit of help is needed in Indian Country…. The big broadband service providers have failed the tribal nations,” says Godfrey Enjady, President of the National Tribal Telecommunications Association.
Building networks that endure and that are cost effective to operate is imperative for affordability says @CalixHQ‘s Executive Vice President
Customer Engagement and Services, Martha Galley. Enjady points out that USF needs to be extended to Tribal areas to ensure operational sustainability.
Tamarah Holmes, Director, Office of Broadband for Virginia talks about their speed dating approach to partnerships between the government and private ISPs. These include partnerships between agencies and, non-monetary contributions, such as making state fiber available for private providers to lease for middle mile connections.
That funding is going to the states and local governments instead of the federal government is a significant and positive change, points out Schafer. Enjady reinforces that work force training is needed in Tribal Nations.
The Metaverse Needs Broadband and Its Operators #
Now we are learning about the metaverse from @Meta‘s Manager, Network Investments, Randy Brogle. He explains that the metaverse won’t replace, but will augment in-person engagement. Meta (e.g. the company formerly known as Facebook) is focusing on working with providers to make sure there are good connections. Symmetric bandwidth, latency, and consistent Quality of Experience will be the measures of a good connection in the metaverse.
25 milliseconds latency between users is what the metaverse will require, says Brogle. To achieve this, operators will have to reduce the number of hops between origination and destination. The implication is that compute power will need to be closer to the edge of the network. Peering will have to be at the metro level.
The metaverse has to be open, like the Internet. Meta is asking for industry support to build out the necessary infrastructure. Brogle reminds attendees of the potential transformative benefits of the metaverse regarding things like telehealth, education, and more.