NRAO hosts second broadband summit in as many years
Almost one year after the first one, the National Radio Astronomy Observatory in Green Bank is hosting a second broadband summit to assess the current status of true broadband access in Pocahontas County. The summit will held at the observatory Wednesday July 15th, 2015 in the Jansky lab auditorium.
A year ago, NRAO Business Manager Mike Holstine invited legislators, broadband providers and the public to the observatory for a discussion on accessibility of broadband in the county. At that time, some customers of the local phone company, Frontier Communications, were able to get broadband service that met the minimum definition of 4 gigs download speed and 1 gig speed upload speed. But many in the county had service that was much slower, even though they were paying for faster service. The first summit also included an intense discussion about middle-mile to last-mile connectivity to the home, especially for those well off the beaten path.
Those topics will again be the agenda, as well as information on the West Virginia Broadband Mapping program, updates on legislative actions from WV State Senator Chris Walters, and information from internet providers Citynet, Shentel, and Spruce Knob Seneca Rocks Telecommunications.
Two keynote speakers will also be part of the day long summit. Lisa Leahy, of the ConnectME Authority of Maine, is the morning speaker. A technology expert with years of experience, Leahy is the Associate Executive Director of the ConnectME Authority and is responsible for directing multiple projects to advance broadband throughout the state. She’s also managed the National Telecommunications and Information Administration’s State Broadband Initiative grant of over 6.3 million dollars for the state.
The afternoon keynote speaker is Joe Freddoso, president of MCNC which operates the North Carolina Research and Education Network [NCREN], an organization that provides broadband connectivity to most Community Anchor institutions in North Carolina. Those Community Anchor institutions include all K-20 public education, most research organizations, and many non-profit hospitals and public health clinics.
During his tenure with MCNC, the organization completed a 144 million dollar expansion of NCREN call the Golden Leaf Rural Broadband Initiative [GLRBI]. Funded by 40 million in private donations and 104 million in grants, the expansion included building over 1800 miles of new fiber optic infrastructure, as well as securing access to an additional 800 miles of existing fiber. The result is that NCREN now covers over 80 percent of North Carolina’s counties.
The Pocahontas County Broadband Summit is sponsored by the Pocahontas County Chamber of Commerce, the Greenbrier Valley Economic Development Corp, and the NRAO. It will be held on Wednesday July 15th from 9:30am to 4:30pm at the NRAO’s Jansky lab auditorium and a lunch will be served to all summit attendees. There is no cost to attend.