Senior Program Manager Cat Blake attended the Council of State Governments Eastern Regional Conference Annual Meeting in Pittsburgh, Pa. on July 30th. She joined Tom Coverick of Keybanc Capital Markets, Craig Settles of Communities United for Broadband, Pennsylvania Sen. Gene Yaw, and Rep. Carolyn Partridge of Vermont, to participate in a session on rural broadband. 

Cat talked about the many benefits of high quality, affordable broadband access for communities, including improvements to health care services, economic and workforce development, and education. “Broadband can seem like a tech issue on its surface,” she said. “But connectivity is a conversation that every single department should be having at the state level.”

Cat outlined action steps that states can take to improve rural access to broadband, including developing future-focused infrastructure funding programs, pursuing mapping initiatives, enacting a One Touch Make Ready policy, and empowering local solutions like municipal and cooperative networks. 

Panelists also discussed funding opportunities, advocacy efforts, and the potential for local networks to bridge the broadband gap. All agreed that states and municipalities will have to take the lead on broadband policy in order for many communities to reap the benefits of next-generation connectivity.