Federal and regional broadband leaders gathered today to discuss how to expand access to fast, reliable, and affordable broadband internet at Digital Southwest: A Regional Broadband Summit in Mesa. The event, which had nearly 200 attendees, was hosted by Next Century Cities, a nonprofit membership organization of mayors and local leaders committed to ensuring next-generation broadband, in partnership with the city of Mesa.
The Summit kicked off with a keynote discussion from Federal Communications Commissioner Mignon Clyburn, who discussed her #Solutions2020 plan to increase broadband access and competition. Clyburn participated in a conversation with Next Century Cities Executive Director Deb Socia, and took questions from attendees.
“Access to high-speed broadband is a necessity in today’s 21st century economy, providing a gateway to jobs, education, and health care,” Clyburn said. “I am honored to join state and local leaders who are on the front lines of closing the digital and opportunities divide. Working together, we can achieve our shared goal of affordable broadband for all Americans.”
U.S. Rep. Andy Biggs (AZ-05), and Mesa Mayor John Giles also joined together in a lunch keynote discussion about what they both are doing to close the digital divide, and what remains to be done in the Southwest Region.
“Broadband drives the economy in our cities,” Giles said. “It’s what keeps companies connected to employees, suppliers and customers. When scoping new locations, businesses have come to expect broadband to be part of the local infrastructure package.”
In addition to the two keynote conversations, attendees heard from elected officials and city leaders as they discussed what has worked to bring broadband to their communities, and from policy experts and private sector leaders as they explored where gaps in broadband infrastructure exist and what can be done to close them. The summit also featured breakout sessions on small cells and pole attachments, rural and tribal broadband, and discussions on the models cities can use to successfully bring broadband to their communities.
The day-long event concluded with a panel of federal government officials who offered information about federal and private financing options for broadband infrastructure projects. Throughout the day, panelists shared a wealth of practical information that can help get more people online and be able to tap into the opportunities that come from having high-quality internet access.
“Broadband is key to unlocking further economic opportunity in the Southwest and ensuring that children and families can access the resources they need to succeed,” Socia said. “By bringing leaders together to share information about increasing access to this critical infrastructure, we are to maximize the benefits of lessons learned and inspire action through stories of success.”
To learn more about Digital Southwest, go to: nextcenturycities.org/event/digital-southwest/.
To watch the event, visit: https://livestream.com/internetsociety/digitalsw/.