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Advocacy Broadband access Broadband funding Broadband in WNC Broadband Technology Dan Gerlach Education Federal Efforts Greg Vogt Jeff McDaris Jeff Sural Local Government Local Government North Carolina Paul de Sa Stagg Newman Walter Johnson

WNC Broadband Leadership Summit

March 2, 2021

Meet the Experts, Get Broadband Industry Updates, and Closing The Digital Divide in 2021


You’ve been asking questions- we’re paying attention. 2021 will bring a host of changes to policy, funding, technology, and more.

Join us on March 2nd for our annual broadband leadership summit as we hear from local, state, and national leaders on what those changes will bring.

We will be hearing from:

Paul de Sa- “Perspectives on the new FCC directions and Internet Policy and Funding in the Biden Administration”

Paul was part of the leadership team at the U.S. Federal Communications Commission (FCC) from 2009-12 and 2016-17, serving as Chief of its Office of Strategic Planning, with a focus on merger reviews, spectrum policy, and broadband, including work on the National Broadband Plan. He is now a senior partner with Quadra Partners consulting and a member of President Biden’s Broadband Transition Team.

Walter Johnston- “Broadband Technology in 2021”

Walter was Chief of the Electromagnetic Compatibility Division of the FCC from 2009 to Jan. 2019. He is now a senior partner with Danu consulting. He is a leading expert in new broadband technologies.

Dan Gerlach- “Foundations and funding questions”

Dan has served the public for 25 years as a budget advisor to Gov. Easley, President of the Golden Leaf Foundation, and interim Chancellor of East Carolina University. He currently is president of Dan Garlach LLC and a consultant to the Dogwood Health Trust.

Jeff Sural- “What to expect at the state level”

Jeff earned his Bachelor’s degree in Journalism from UNC-Chapel Hill and his J.D. from Western Michigan University. Since January 2015 he has been the Director of the Broadband Infrastructure Office (BIO). BIO leads the statewide initiative to expand high-speed internet access for all North Carolinians.

There will also be information from several providers in the region including Charter, Skyrunner, ERC, and French Broad Electric Co-op.

And more……

This event will be held from 10-noon with optional breakout sessions from noon-1pm.

Breakout Sessions

  • Education – led by Jeff McDaris – will hear what K-12 and colleges have done to meet the pandemic and respond to the digital divide. Barry Pace of Buncombe Schools will provide an update on their experience.
  • New Technologies – led by Stagg Newman and Walter Johnston will continue the conversation about 5G expansion, satellite services, and the future.
  • State & Local Funding for Broadband – led by Jeff Sural and foundation partners – will look at the potential for state and local funding for broadband.
  • Federal Policy Changes – Greg Vogt and Paul de Sa will continue the conversation about what the Biden administration and Democratic control of Congress means for broadband improvements and regulations.

Register for this virtual event today! Spaces are limited.

Date: March 2nd
Presentations: 10-12
Breakout sessions: 12-1
Cost: Free

Zoom Registration Link

For questions related to this event reach out to


Does your organization have a digital inclusion activity it offers?

We want to know!

2020 escalated the conversation around digital inclusion and we want to make sure we know what’s going on across WNC. Please let us know who you are and what your organization is doing by completing this brief survey. We will present an update to this project at the March 2nd Summit. 

Digital Inclusion Survey Link

Categories
Broadband funding Broadband in WNC Economic Development FCC Kevin Jones RDOF Stagg Newman WLOS

About $45M in Federal Grants for Broadband Expansion in WNC

Our Western North Carolina Broadband Team Leader, Kevin Jones:

Looks like several WNC counties will be getting around $45M in RDOF funding.

Kevin Jones

Stagg Newman, Retired FCC Technologist and also a WNC Broadband Project Team Lead adds:

These grants help a bit. In Buncombe County, we have estimated that we have at least 15,000 Households without available future proof broadband service as defined in the Buncombe County RFP. These federal grants only address less than 1500 lines in Buncombe County, so less than 10% of the problem. I think the situation is similar in Henderson County and probably in other counties. So a small step in the right directions. The problem is most of the unserved areas do not qualify as totally unserved census blocks under the FCC Rural Development Opportunity Fund (RDOF). Congress mandated in 2019 that the FCC fix their mapping problem but only funded the FCC to do so in December of 2020. It will likely take the FCC at least two years to do so. The next $10 B of RDOF money will not be available until after the FCC fixes the maps.

Stagg Newman

In the WLOS video, Senator Kevin Corbin talks about the importance of broadband in Western North Carolina

WLOS – Sen. Kevin Corbin – (R) District 50

Dr. Shelley White, President of Haywood Community College also references in the WLOS video the broadband client-access benefits for their Small Business Center.

WLOS – Dr. Shelley White, President, Haywood Community College

Hodge, R. (2021, February 16). About $45 million in federal grants will help expand broadband in WNC. WLOS; WLOS. https://wlos.com/news/local/federal-grants-to-help-rural-counties-expand-broadband