BIRMINGHAM, ALA. Aug. 8, 2018:
How broadband services can enhance the quality of life in rural America, including its economic health, will be the focus of an E-Connectivity Listening Session on Thursday, Aug. 16 in Birmingham, Ala.
Regional and industry leaders, as well as rural broadband users are expected to participate in this session, which will be in Room 340-342 of the Alabama Center for Advanced Technology and Training on the campus of Lawson State Community College, 3060 Wilson Road SW, Birmingham.
The session is part of What’s on the Horizon for E-Connectivity in Rural America, a project organized by Farm Foundation, in collaboration with CoBank, NTCA-The Rural Broadband Association, National Rural Electric Cooperative Association, the National Rural Utilities Cooperative Finance Corporation, and the U.S. Department of Agriculture.
The session will be 1:30 p.m. to 4 p.m. There is no charge for this event, but reservations are requested by close of business Monday, Aug. 13. Reservations can be made by sending an e-mail to Michelle@farmfoundation.org
For those unable to attend in person, a free live webcast
will be available. Webcast participants will have the option to ask questions during the session.
“In this listening session, we want to focus on options to address the specific challenges rural residents encounter in accessing consistent, quality broadband services,” says Farm Foundation President Constance Cullman. “We will hear from regional experts, but an important element of the session will be hearing from the people who live and work with limited broadband access today.”
Cullman will moderate the Birmingham session which will begin with a panel that includes Anshu Vaish, CEO of Robin Health, Macon, Ga., and Brandon Moore of Moore Farms, Toney, Ala. This panel will be followed by an open mic session, in which individuals are invited to present brief perspectives on the availability and quality of broadband services in rural communities, and the impact that service has on quality of life in the region.
A second panel will feature broadband providers discussing specific challenges and opportunities for improving e-connectivity in the region. Panelists will be Fred Johnson, Executive Vice President and General Manager of Farmers Telecommunications Cooperative, Rainsville, Ala.; Jake Cowen, Chief Financial Officer of Troy Cable in Troy, Ala.; and Steve Foshee, President/CEO of Tombigbee Electric Cooperative, Hamilton, Ala. A second open mic session will follow this panel.
The Aug. 16 session will conclude with an update from Washington, D.C., by Jannine Miller, Senior Advisor for Rural Infrastructure at the U.S. Department of Agriculture.
The Birmingham event is the third regional listening session. These sessions are designed to gather specific input from broadband providers and the people who use—or would like to be able to use—broadband services regarding the tools that are needed to improve e-connectivity in rural America. A fourth session will be Sept. 20 in Colorado. A report of those sessions will be provided to federal and state public and private leaders to better inform their decisions regarding improvements to, and expansion of, broadband services in rural America.
The second session was June 19 in Fairbault, Minn. U.S. Secretary of Agriculture Sonny Perdue and Federal Communications Commission Chairman Ajit Pai joined executives from the five partner organizations April 18 in Washington, D.C., to kick off the listening sessions. Perdue and Pai both highlighted the importance of e-connectivity to all sectors of rural America. FOR MORE INFORMATION: Mary Thompson, Farm Foundation, 630-601-4152
Kelly Wismer, NTCA, 703-351-2015
Stephen Bell, NRECA, 571-205-7719
Jo Solonika, CoBank, 720-583-9180
Brad Captain, CFC, 800-424-2954