How to Bridge the Broadband Gap: A Conversation with State Leaders

New research identifies promising practices for expanding access to high-speed, reliable internet


How to Bridge the Broadband Gap: A Conversation with State Leaders

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Return here for our webcast on Feb. 11, 2020, at 9 a.m. (#PewBroadband)

Though access to high-speed, reliable internet is an increasingly critical tool for modern American life, the Federal Communications Commission estimates that at least 21 million Americans still lack broadband access. Other counts suggest this number could be as high as 162 million. Although much of the conversation about expanding broadband access has focused on the federal and local levels, states are taking decisive steps to expand this critical service to communities that lack it or are underserved.

State leaders have recognized that broadband is not just a technology, but a key asset that will shape other policy priorities: access to health care, economic development, and distance-learning programs, among others. On Feb. 11, The Pew Charitable Trusts will host a day-long event unveiling state practices in five categories that are proving effective for expanding broadband: stakeholder engagement, policy framework, planning and capacity building, funding and operations, and program evaluation and evolution.


8:00 a.m.: Breakfast

9:00 a.m.: Opening remarks

9:15 a.m.: An overview of Pew’s research findings

  • Kathryn de Wit, manager, broadband research initiative (@km_dewit)
  • Anna Read, officer, broadband research initiative

9:45 a.m.: State promising practices

States play a leading role in expanding broadband service to communities that lack it. This panel will highlight how state programs are closing gaps in broadband access through the five categories highlighted above.

  • Tamarah Holmes, director, Office of Broadband, Virginia Department of Housing and Community Development
  • Crystal Ivey, broadband director, Tennessee Department of Economic and Community Development Development (@crystaliveyTN)
  • Peggy Schaffer, executive director, ConnectME Authority (Maine) (@Peggyschaffer)
  • Kelly Workman, administrative director, West Virginia Development Office, Broadband Council 

11:00 a.m.: Universal truths of broadband

Across states, stakeholders consistently referenced some “universal truths” as central to the success of broadband initiatives. State officials will discuss how these factors contribute to their programs.  

  • Teresa Ferguson, director of federal broadband engagement, Colorado Broadband Office
  • Jaron McCallum, state broadband director, Public Service Commission of Wisconsin
  • Jeff Sural, director, Broadband Infrastructure Office, North Carolina Department of Information Technology (@BroadbandIO)
  • Stephanie Tom, deputy director, broadband and digital literacy, California Department of Technology

Noon: Lunch

Date: Tuesday, February 11, 2020
Time: 9:00 a.m. - 12:00 p.m. ET
Location: Return here at 9:00 am ET on February 11 to watch the webcast