Midwest Broadband Advocates Gather at Great Lakes Connect

At the beginning of October, Next Century Cities Policy Director Christopher Mitchell and Communications Specialist Jessica Del Fiacco attended the Great Lakes Connect Broadband Development Conference in Lake Geneva, Wisc. Great Lakes Connect brings together advocates, local leaders, and policymakers with a goal of advancing broadband access in the greater midwest. 

Christopher presented on two panels at the conference. The first focused on why municipal and cooperative networks shouldn’t be considered last resorts for communities, and outlined the many benefits these models offer that private providers may not. The second panel was a discussion on smart cities and the network architectures that are best equipped to meet the increased demands of IoT technologies. 

Several Next Century Cities members were also in attendance or were noted by presenters as examples to emulate. Kimberley McKinley, Chief Marketing Officer for UTOPIA Fiber, presented on a panel called “Getting it Done! Funding, New Models, and Political Will,” where she discussed building community buy-in and the potential of the open access model. UTOPIA connects several NCC members in Utah, including Centerville, Layton, Murray, and Orem. 

Pam Berrian, Telecommunications Manager for Eugene, Ore., walked attendees through how the city developed their broadband plan with input from various stakeholders. Thanks to the city’s vision and implementation of their plan, EugeneNet helped bring 25 tech companies to downtown Eugene. 

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