What better way to kick-off the start of summer than with a road trip? That’s exactly what our Ontopical team did. We hit the road for the 2022 Fiber Connect conference to learn about the latest in high-speed broadband internet.
Fiber Connect is an annual event. It promotes the growth of fiberoptic broadband networks in the United States and direct fiber to the home (FTTH) connections. This year’s event was at the world-famous Opryland Hotel and Convention Centre in Nashville, Tennessee.
Fiber broadband is quickly becoming a competitive advantage for communities that offer it. Between families and millennials seeking a better life outside the major urban centres and unprecedented government funding, the Fiber Broadband industry is on fire. Including ARPA, RDOF, and the announced BEAD program (Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act) and other programs, more than $110 Billion in government funding is available to municipal and state governments over the next 5-7 years!
Broadband access is not just about better internet access. It has the power to touch the lives of entire communities in profound ways. From connecting with loved ones across the globe to offering their crafts online and attracting new employers, communities offering fast broadband are thriving and growing.
There was a lot of buzz around the event this year. Even as the convention circuit across much of the United States has been up and running for a year or more, attendees were still talking about the joys of attending big, in-person networking events once again. Nashville is a unique city with world-class facilities. It’s also the home of country music, which certainly added to the excitement for many, including our team of Calgarians from Ontopical!
The atmosphere at the event was celebratory and professional. Several awards were presented by industry associations to some of the biggest names in broadband circles.
The Fiber Broadband Association presented its annual Star Award, recognizing a community or organization that goes above and beyond what’s expected in the advancement of fiber to the home, to Sunbridge, a 24,000-acre planned community in central Florida that is providing FTTH services to 10,000 residents over the next 10-years in a region of Florida without access to other broadband options. This development for residents and businesses in the community will support the increasing demand for live streaming video, telehealth, remote education and remote work.
The Association also presented its Gene Scott Education Award to Greenlight Community Broadband, a community-owned FTTH provider in North Carolina, for its efforts to build workforce training programs and an affordable fiber technician training course at a local community college.
Veronica Bloodworth, chief network officer at Frontier, received the Association’s annual Chairman’s Award for the promotion, education or acceleration of FTTH across North America. Bloodworth was recognized for her efforts to create a better broadband future for communities and businesses across the United States over a two-decade career, in which she had a part in deploying fiber broadband internet to more than 14 million customers.
The Ontopical team met with attendees from across the industry. We arranged demonstrations of our game-changing platform for businesses looking to secure more deals with utilities and governments bringing broadband internet to their communities.
Guests we spoke with were eager to discuss the public funding available for broadband internet, particularly for fiber connections, from municipalities and electrical utility co-ops.
As smaller communities and suburban municipalities grow in population, municipalities and electrical co-ops are the preferred recipients of federal and state funding programs.
Many people we spoke with wanted to discuss the digital divide between major metropolitan centers and the unserved or underserved communities that are some of the fastest-growing areas in North America.
As more people move out of big cities looking for more employment and a lower cost of living, digital equity will only increase in important across the country.
Expanding the availability of high-speed broadband internet to everyone is a major focus of infrastructure funding across North America, as jurisdictions look to support the modern workforce and an economy where business can happen anywhere.
Generally speaking, funding for broadband internet in communities flows down to small townships and villages. Those communities will work with small, community-based co-operatives to build networks to serve areas that have less coverage and access to broadband networks.
We also spoke to attendees about a renewed interest from private equity firms to get involved and expand broadband to underserved and growing communities.
These companies are buying up smaller electrical co-ops or other regional internet providers for municipalities and small communities to get started on the path to offering high-speed internet to their residents and businesses.
Like every industry, broadband and internet providers are feeling the crunch of supply chain issues in the current market. For these companies looking to build broadband and fiber internet infrastructure, they are facing more than six months of lead time in securing everything from fiber optic cables to other critical network components.
Even though Fiber Connect 2022 was an event to remember, it’s always good to return home after a business trip. The Ontopical team has a lot to take away from this year’s event as businesses in the telecom industry try to keep pace with the speed of broadband expansion across the continent.
Does your business want to help communities build the infrastructure of the future to support a modern economy? Book a demonstration with our team to learn how Ontopical can help you build your book of business and level the playing field with the big telecom giants.