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May 4, 2009 9:34 AM

Must-Attend Event: "Setting a High Standard for Broadband Stimulus Funding"

For anyone and everyone in, near, or who can get to DC, I highly recommend you joining us on May 7th from 12-3pm at the National Press Club for an event hosted by the Benton Foundation entitled, "Setting a High Standard for Broadband Stimulus Funding: Urban and Rural Examples of the 'Best of Breed.'"

This event was inspired by a desire to elevate the dialog around the kinds of applications for stimulus dollars that we should be supporting. Rather than just wait around for the rules to come out, why not start looking at some of the best potential applications out there and discussing their relative merits. In this way we can both help raise awareness about these best-in-class applications while simultaneously educating others on how to enhance their own applications.

I feel quite confident referring to the potential applicants on the first panel at this event as "best of breed" given both the pedigree of who's applying and the quality of the projects they're proposing.

Of particular interest is that the panel will feature both rural and urban projects, showcasing the range of opportunities these stimulus dollars can be funding.

On the rural side we have three presenters:

- Tim Nulty of ECFiber, a very rural municipal project in Vermont that's going to establish a new paradigm for financially sustainable open networks

- Donny Smith of Jaguar Communications, a private deployer based primarily in Minnesota that already has a rural open network in place and operating successfully

- Gary Evans of Hiawatha Broadband Communications, a private deployer in Minnesota who's one of the only profitable rural fiber operators in the country

Quite frankly, these are the kinds of people and projects that I believe stimulus dollars should be directed towards. They're all proven in their ability to build and operate quality networks. And they're all committed to bringing the best broadband to all Americans.

Then on the other side of the coin there will be two speakers from big cities, namely:

- Chris Vein, CTO for San Francisco

- Bill Schrier, CTO for Seattle

These gentlemen will discuss their stimulus applications, showing how these dollars shouldn't be thought of as rural-only but that they can be very effective if used to fund pilot projects to bring the best broadband to un- and underserved urban areas.

The thing that excites me most about these panelists is that we're going to be able to take the stimulus discussion out of the abstract and start talking about it in concrete terms about the best ways for NTIA and RUS to spend their stimulus monies.

Then to bookend that discussion will be a panel of respondents that includes your truly speaking on behalf of the Rural Fiber Alliance, an ad hoc coalition of public and private, fiercely pragmatic network deployers; Mark Ansboury, CTO for OneCommunity; and Dr. Kate Williams from the University of Illinois.

All in all I'm certain this will be a must-attend event for anyone interested and engaged in what's going to happen with the broadband stimulus. So I hope to see you all there!

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