Broadband 2020: Oct 8: Bringing Broadband to Rural America: Opportunities and Challenges Post-Pandemic & Mentor Sessions

Shirley Bloomfield gave a great report on what’s happening in DC and what’s happening in rural America and how those perspectives are interacting. We learned abtou Smart Rural Communities, the digital rural-rural divide, some funding opportunities and some barriers.

The COVID-19 pandemic has shown not only how important broadband is for all Americans, but it has also presented an opportunity to help fuel a rural renaissance with the creation of more Smart Rural Communities. The network of Smart Rural Community providers works to keep small-town American connected. They lead and collaborate on broadband-enabled projects that improve economic development, provide technology for advancing education, telemedicine, precision agriculture and other community services. This presentation will focus on the opportunities that broadband can bring to rural communities and the challenges that exist in bringing broadband to rural America.

Shirley Bloomfield is the CEO of NTCA. With more than 30 years of experience representing the country’s smallest independent telecom operators, she is an expert in federal communications policies and sustaining the vitality of rural and remote communities and the benefits rural broadband networks bring to the national economy.

Shirley is also active in leadership efforts to seek synergies and align strategic partnerships among rural telecom companies, their larger counterparts, other rural utilities and federal agencies, and to further expand business opportunities for NTCA members. In addition to her service to NTCA, she also spent time as a senior executive at both Verizon and Qwest. She serves as a board member of the National Rural Telecommunications Cooperative and GlobalWin, an organization of women leaders in the high-tech industry.

Mentor Sessions

We also hosted mentor sessions, which really turned out to be “learn from each other” sessions, because new and online formats promote fluidity. We had some awesome people in the room and as awesome people do, it sounds like the connected and seeds were sown for projects that I’m sure we’ll be showcasing next year.

This entry was posted in Blandin Broadband Summit 2020 by Ann Treacy. Bookmark the permalink.

About Ann Treacy

Librarian who follows rural broadband in MN and good uses of new technology (, hosts a radio show on MN music (, supports people experiencing homelessness in Minnesota ( and helps with social justice issues through Women’s March MN.

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