Next Century Cities hosted Digital Southwest — A Regional Broadband Summit to discuss stories of local broadband deployment success, digital inclusion initiatives, financing opportunities, and more. This full day event brought together broadband champions from federal, state, and local government, as well as community leaders and broadband policy experts from the Southwest and across the nation.

Digital Southwest panels can be viewed HERE and the full agenda can be found HERE.


The event featured keynote remarks from Federal Communications Commissioner Mignon Clyburn and a conversation between Mesa, AZ Mayor John Giles and Representative Andy Biggs (R-AZ), as well as panel discussions from mayors, other city officials, state and federal policymakers, rural and tribal representatives, and national broadband experts. From financing to infrastructure development to smart cities, panelists shared a wealth of practical information.

“Access to high-speed broadband is a necessity in today’s 21st century economy, providing a gateway to jobs, education, and healthcare,” Commissioner 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.”

“Broadband deployment is a collaborative effort,” Congressman Biggs said. “Everyone that I have talked to in Congress is excited to see broadband deployment move forward, and we know that it is important that we all work as collaborative partners to help move technology progress.”

“Broadband drives the economy in our cities,” Mayor 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.”


On the first panel, Spanish Fork, UT IS/SFCN Director John Bowcut, Arvada, CO Mayor Pro Tem Bob Fifer, Mesa, Manager of Tribal Critical Infrastructure at Amerind Riskand Kimball Sekaquaptewa, AZ Chief Engineer Beth Huning, and RIVCOconnect Director David Littell shared stories about what is working in their communities, such as smart pole policies and community involvement. The panel was moderated by Senior Program Specialist for Broadband at the US Department of Commerce Don Williams.



Attendees of the second panel heard from CISSP President and CTO of CityLink Telecommunications John Brown, Partner at Conexon Jonathan Chambers, Director of Technology at the Southern California Tribal Chairmen’s Association Matt Rantanen, Vice President of Digital Innovation at Magellan Advisors Jory Wolf as they discussed where there are gaps in broadband infrastructure in our country and what can be done to improve access for the underserved and the unserved. This panel was moderated by Next Century Cities Policy Director Christopher Mitchell.



After a lunchtime keynote from Congressman Biggs and Mayor Giles attendees were able to listen to one of three breakout session panels including:

Models 101 panelists included Executive Engagement Leader at Fujitsu Mitch Drake, General Manager at Churchill Communications Mark Feest, PIO/Telecom Manager at Kit Carson Electric Cooperative Andrew T. Gonzales, and Next Century Cities Policy Director Christopher Mitchell. This breakout session was moderated by President of the International Research Center Mark Goldstein.

Rural and Tribal Broadband panelists included CEO of Sacred Wind Communications John Badal, Research & Policy Analyst at Arizona State University’s American Indian Policy Institute Brian Howard, Economic Development Director for Independence, OR Shawn Irvine, IT Director for Rio Blanco County, CO Blake Mobley, Director of the Gila River Indian Community Utility Authority and Gila River Telecom, Belinda Nelson, and was moderated by Director of Technology at the Southern California Tribal Chairmen’s Association Matt Rantanen.

The Small Cells and Pole Attachments panel included Director of the Wireless Future Program at New America’s Open Technology Institute Michael Calabrese, Casey Lide of the Law Firm of Baller, Stokes, and Lide, Executive Vice President at SureSite Consulting Group Courtney Schmidt, Fiber Infrastructure and Right of Way Manager for Lincoln, NE David Young, and was moderated by Deputy Director of Next Century Cities Todd O’Boyle.


The event concluded with a panel on broadband financing, which featured RUS Assistant Administrator Keith Adams, Senior Advisor at the Federal Reserve Bank of Dallas Jordana Barton, Managing Director at KeyBanc Capital Markets Tom Coverick, NTIA Broadband Services Program Director Aimee Meacham, and was moderated by District Community Affairs Officer at the Office of the Comptroller of the Currency Tim Herwig.



Thank you to our Platinum Sponsor: Fujitsu and Juniper Networks

Our Silver Sponsor: KeyBanc

And to our Sponsors: AEG, Bear Communications, EX2, McLean Engineering, Sherpa Fiber, US Ignite, and Virtual Gateway Labs