Rural Broadband Track

Local, state and federal leaders -- passionately committed to the belief that rural America cannot be left behind -- provide information on the crucial role broadband deployments play in ensuring better health care, better economic prospects and a better life. Expect sessions on funding, on new technology tools, on rural success stories and much more. 

Tuesday, April 9

8:00 am – 8:45 am

General Session

The Big Picture

Hear what's on the minds of the experts Broadband Communities turns to when we want to know about multifamily, economic development and rural broadband issues.



Steve Ross -- Editor-at-Large, Broadband Communities

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.

Catharine Rice
 – Project Director, Coalition for Local Internet Choice (CLIC); Consultant, Broadband Matters

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

Exhibit Hall Luncheon, Keynote Presentation and the “Must be Present to Win” $5,000 Drawing

Big Cash Drawing During Thursday’s Exhibit Hall Lunch: To qualify, players must visit each participating drawing sponsor to obtain their signature or stamp. Once all boxes are filled, please turn in to the registration desk where your entry will be verified. This drawing is only for attendees. Vendors cannot participate. Only one submission per person. Must be present to win.

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

April 8-11, 2019

Renaissance Hotel in Austin, Texas

Photo Gallery

Here's a glance at last year's Summit.

Look who you'll meet at the Summit

  Unique Opportunity to Network with Broadband Systems Operators*
*Includes Telcos - Private, CLECs, ILECs; Cable Operators; Wireless Broadband Operators, Property Managers, Developers, Owners, REITs, Universities, Colleges
  Equipment Manufacturers, Suppliers, Distributors 17%
  Government/Legal 12%
  Consultants, Contractors 10%
  System Installers, Service Providers 8%
  Financial Advisers, Institutions, Investors 3%

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