ABOUT THE DIGITAL DIVIDE SUMMIT

Many of us take connectivity for granted, but the reality is there are many people and communities trying to gain access to network services to this day. In the United States alone, 30 million people still do not have access to high-speed internet, and at a global scale, 60% of people remain offline and are unable to participate in the digital revolution. The Digital Divide has become an issue of public debate, as we move to an evermore connected world, those outside of it are inevitably left behind or at a severe disadvantage. Basic services such as healthcare, learning, banking or commerce to name a few, become unreachable to those unable to connect. Whilst much of the discourse around the digital divide focuses on access, providing affordable connectivity is also a challenge. Bridging the digital divide will not be a purely public policy-led effort, private enterprise must also take a step forward and explore the options available to deliver connectivity for all. Join us to find out how you too can play a role in keeping everyone connected and engaged in this digital revolution!

 

AGENDA
MONDAY, DECEMBER 13

11:00AM-12:15PM ET:

ADDRESSING THE GROWING U.S. DIGITAL DIVIDE - POLICIES & TECHNOLOGY

The digital divide in the United States and across the world is a political and social issue that will require collaborative work between industry and government to resolve. Over the last ten years broadband access and affordability has improved, but there are significant challenges to overcome. For example, according to Pew Research, 24% of rural customers still consider gaining access to fast broadband a “major problem”. The recently passed Infrastructure Bill, as well as the Rural Digital Opportunity Fund and other initiatives will drive investment into these crucial areas to keep all connected, working and studying wherever they are. What are some of the key challenges we face as an industry and society in bridging the digital divide? How can industry work with federal, state and local government to deliver connectivity cost-effectively?

11:00AM-11:15AM: Fireside Chat with Kerem Durdag, GWI's COO 
11:15AM-11:30AM: Partner Keynote
11:30AM-12:15PM: Panel Discussion

AGENDA
MONDAY, DECEMBER 13

2:00PM-3:15PM ET:

BROWNFIELD DEPLOYMENTS & UPGRADES - WORKING WITH MUNICIPALITIES TO DELIVER AFFORDABLE SERVICES

According to a recent survey carried out by Cisco with municipalities and communities across the United States, 94% of respondents believe broadband to be crucial for a well-educated, informed public, 80% said high-speed internet is critical infrastructure, and 70% have “shovel ready” infrastructure projects when funding becomes available. Broadband access in urban areas is seen not only as a fundamental service for citizens to access education, information and countless other services, but also as a lifeline to manage and update critical utility services. As more funding becomes available, there will be a need for partnerships in delivering projects across different cities, towns and municipalities, each with different objectives, purpose and budget. How can the telco industry partner with public entities to deliver affordable access to digital services? What are some key use cases for connected city and infrastructure services that cities will look to deploy in partnership with telcos?

2:00PM-2:15PM: Keynote with Jeff Luong, AT&T's President - Broadband Access & Adoption Initiatives and Vanderburgh County Commissioner, Cheryl Musgrave
2:15PM-2:30PM: Partner Keynote with Terry Young, A10's Director of Service Provider Product Marketing
2:30PM-3:15PM: Panel Discussion

AGENDA
TUESDAY, DECEMBER 14

11:00AM-12:15PM ET:

PROVIDING ACCESS PART 1: 5G & FIXED WIRELESS ACCESS

Fixed Wireless Access is not a new concept but can play a vital role in bringing connectivity to that crucial, and often expensive, final mile. Whilst 5G provides an interesting upgrade to FWA deployments, robust fiber networks and older generations of cellular technology have a part to play in making FWA pervasive. Recent FWA roll-outs have made it possible for CSPs to offer ultra-high-speed broadband to rural and remote areas, especially where fiber proves too expensive to install. 5G and FWA connections are slated to grow exponentially, and according to some industry projections are expected to reach 180 million households and enterprises by 2026. What are the best use cases for FWA deployments? What is the ideal spectrum for these to operate in, both technologically and economically? And can 5G truly be a cost-effective solution in areas that need the most government funding?

11:00AM-11:15AM: Fireside Chat with Kevin Ross, WeLink's CEO
11:15AM-11:30AM: Partner Keynote with Peter Linder, Ericsson, Inc.'s Head of 5G Marketing North America
11:30AM-12:15PM: Panel Discussion

AGENDA
TUESDAY, DECEMBER 14

2:00PM-3:15PM ET:

PROVIDING ACCESS PART 2: THE OPPORTUNITY FOR FIBER

Fiber has been extremely successful in delivering connectivity in urban and suburban settings but covering that infamous last mile in rural settings remains a challenge. The prohibitive cost of laying down fiber for an often-limited number of end-users has left millions unconnected or with legacy networks that no longer support modern applications. Deployment is not only challenging in remote areas, however. From digging up city streets to overcoming physical barriers in rural and remote areas, rural carriers face an uphill battle in delivering fast fiber networks whilst keeping prices and cost under control. With this context in mind, fiber deployments need a rethink to reach homes and businesses in low population density areas. How can reducing CAPEX and OPEX lead to fiber reaching more businesses? What are the options to future-proof fiber deployments today so that rural carriers, often burdened with smaller budgets, can remain competitive into the future without relaying cables? What are some funding and financing options available to make fiber rollouts to remote areas feasible?

2:00PM-2:15PM: Keynote with Kevin Smith, Verizon's VP of Technology
2:15PM-2:30PM: Fireside Chat with Peter Asman, Neos Networks' Managing Director Public Sector & Enterprise
2:30PM-3:15PM: Panel Discussion 

AGENDA
WEDNESDAY, DECEMBER 15

11:00AM-11:45AM ET:

PROVIDING ACCESS PART 3: THE ROLE OF OPEN RAN

Open RAN has had a strong 2021, with several live deployments and trials in urban and rural areas. The opportunity to pick and choose vendors, playing off their strengths, and build a nearly custom-made network is a strong pull for CSPs looking for more adaptable, smart and efficient networks. When considering access for remote areas, Open RAN plays an important role in the future of connectivity for several reasons. Firstly, the technology allows for network functions to be aggregated in Centralized Units, reducing cost and complexity. Neutral Host architecture will also allow for co-location facilities and less towers. All these factors, together with an open vendor pool and complicated geo-political tensions are why Open RAN is being slated to be the game changer for rural connectivity. Will Open RAN finally be the answer to cost effective network deployments in rural areas? Will the experience in rural communities translate to urban settings to address affordability concerns for mobile and fixed broadband?

11:00AM-11:15AM: Keynote with Alessandro Defilippi, Internet para Todos' CTO
11:15AM-11:45AM: Fireside Chat

AGENDA
WEDNESDAY, DECEMBER 15

2:00PM-3:00PM ET:

PROVIDING ACCESS PART 4: SATELLITE'S GROWING IMPORTANCE

CSPs and governments around the globe have been promising rural broadband for decades with limited success. Newer high-frequency generations such as 5G require greater network density, and as a consequence have a higher cost for delivery. Satellites have often been touted as the solution to the connectivity gap in remote areas, but the cost and speed has proven an impossible hurdle to overcome. However, low-orbiting satellites might be the golden bullet to provide a comparable service to land-based network technology for those areas outside of the cellular grid. Companies such as Elon Musk’s SpaceX, through their service StarLink, is in the process of launching thousands of satellites to form clusters geared at delivering remote area connectivity, with speeds expected to hit 300Mbps. Others are sure to follow. How is the next generation of low orbit satellites changing the feasibility of large-scale satellite connectivity deployments? How can the perception of high cost and poor QoE be reverted?

2:00PM-2:15PM: Keynote with Emmett Fitch, OptimERA's CEO
2:15PM-3:00PM: Panel Discussion 

AGENDA
THURSDAY, DECEMBER 16

11:00AM-12:15PM ET:

BUILDING AN INCLUSIVE, DIGITAL ECOSYSTEM FOR A DIGITAL ECONOMY

The digital divide debate is often centered on the challenges around access and affordability of broadband. As we move towards an evermore connected society, unless these issues are tackled and resolved, the gap is bound to continue to increase. For individuals, and companies, to remain at pace with peers and society, access must be guaranteed not only to the internet, but to crucial services such as e-commerce, digital payment and banking platforms, and connected citizen services. Additionally, UIs must be inclusive and consider disabilities, cultural differences, language, and many other important factors in how communities and individuals will interact with their devices, the internet and digital brands. How can industry foster digital entrepreneurship and investment to drive adoption and access to connectivity and online services? How can the industry come together to build and foster a digital services ecosystem?

11:00AM-11:15AM: Keynote with Angela Siefer, National Digital Inclusion Alliance's Executive Director
11:15AM-11:30AM: Fireside Chat with Joshua Edmonds, City of Detroit's Director of Digital Inclusion
11:30AM-12:15PM: Panel Discussion