Carnegie Mellon University

Metro21 Attends Bipartisan Policy Event “Investing in Broadband to Narrow the Digital Divide.”

Investing in Broadband to Narrow the Digital Divide

Metro21 Attended the Bipartisan Policy Event “Investing in Broadband to Narrow the Digital Divide.”

While there is much discussion and seemingly hundreds of proposals, members of Congress still struggle with how to best address the digital divide. Whether trying to address the build-out of rural broadband infrastructure or ensuring affordable access in urban centers, the solutions remain elusive and partisanship around broadband is increasing. Metro21 joined for a discussion of the issues around rural infrastructure extension and urban access affordability.  Panelists discussed various ownership models, future-proofing networks and where best to focus federal dollars.

The speakers included

Shirley Bloomfield, CEO of NTCA, The Rural Broadband Association

Jay Schwarz, Vice President of Public Policy, Comcast

Brett Kilbourn, Senior VP of Policy and General Counsel, UTC

Michael O'Reilly, Former FCC Commissioner

Discussion Highlights

Shirley Bloomfield:

  • Supported the Congress’ idea of specific funding for broadband and focusing on those Americans who are unserved would be setting our country on the right course.
  • The pandemic propounded a once in a generation opportunity to really connect the rural unserved people with the digitalized urban cities.

Jay Schwarz:

  • There are some gaps in the infrastructure that were identified during the pandemic, especially in the rural regions. There are a lot of unserved areas and thus targeted funding is a much-needed step in the right direction.

Brett Kilbourn:

  • From a utility perspective and echoing the sentiments of Shirley and Jay, not only specific broadband funding is needed but the energy sector also needs directed funding since broadband and energy connectivity are interlinked and they go hand-in-hand.
  • The future of the internet really is just as much upload as it is downloading. Precision agriculture for example, and Internet of Things, these are applications that by themselves are going to change the way that the internet traffic is viewed.

Michael O’Reilly:

  • The Congress needs to make sure the new policy plans must be in sync with already implemented policies and/or programs being run by FTC, NTIA, Dept. of Agriculture, etc. The new policies must not be counter intuitive with the old programs.

Find the recording of this event here.