Flying home from Nashville, it was cloudy. But one thing remained clear—the focus of Rural America on building out Fiber to the Home.
One thing of note from the sessions with so many speakers is that the Electric Cooperatives in the US are already building fiber networks, have resolved the need by partnering with adjacent Co-ops, or are investigating what building fiber would look like for its members. What was shocking was the proportion of Co-ops that have already completed or are completing their builds (based on the responses to the Menti.com polls). That said, a smaller percentage are in the early stages of identifying the process for their members. Based on the voluntary responses from attendees, only 19% are still Seeking information or evaluating (9 of 47 responses, while 25% are in deployment (12 of 47 replies).
From the perspective of an inclusive internet, a common theme across many of the sessions I attended is that the residents served by Coops need help to define the value of good internet, making it relevant to their needs. Streaming TV, and Wifi calling, to name a few, but more obvious is the ability for the children in these communities to have access so they can remain connected to services that will help them with educational pursuits. However, echoed by many, the availability of a quality connection in the Coop-served communities is positively impacting the number of people and families moving back to these communities from larger towns and cities.
This year's TechAdvantage was well attended, the conversations were plentiful, and they had a certain buzz that wasn't as obvious last year. The number of new vendors in the space was relatively high compared to other shows we've attended recently, but the contingent of regular participants was also evident.
I am looking forward to the follow-up meetings from the show, as there are so many cool projects going on right now. I'll happily speak for the team at Biarri Networks when I say that we are excited to start new work for our existing valued partners and new partners alike.