For the first time in over a year, policy experts, industry representatives, and digital advocates convened in person in Keystone, Colorado, for the Mountain Connect conference. It included keynotes from broadband experts highlighting the state of the broadband industry, panel discussions on what future demands on broadband technology will be, a fireside chat on the impact of successful municipal broadband networks, and an explanation of the benefits of extended reality technology.

Next Century Cities’ Policy Counsel for Federal Programs, Ryan Johnston, joined the August 10th, 2021, panel, The State of the Industry. Other panelists included Fiber Broadband Association’s Gary Bolton, Wireless Internet Service Providers Association’s Claude Aiken, NTCA – The Rural Broadband Association’s Adam Jorde, and ACA Connects’ John Higginbotham. The discussion was moderated by the Institute for Local Self-Reliance’s Chris Mitchell.

Panelists discussed a variety of issues that influence the broadband industry – supply chain issues, funding opportunities, digital equity and inclusion, and federal and state policy concerns. Ryan’s remarks focused on the importance of new federal funding opportunities placing much-needed broadband funding into the hands of under-resourced municipalities nationwide. Johnston also emphasized that new resources must be distributed in ways that give communities the ability to develop broadband programs that meet local connectivity needs.