COVID-19 Resources from IEEE-USA, ACA Connects & More – A ViodiTV Real-Time Conversation

“We are going to prevail,” exclaimed Patty Boyers, president of Boycom in the above ViodiTV Real-Time Conversation. Boyers was speaking about the efforts to connect the community while protecting employees and customers from the risk of COVID-19. And the demand for Boycom’s network has increased by 70% since the start of the pandemic. This has flattened the traffic peaks that were often seen on Friday primetime to all times throughout the day.

Matt Polka, president, and CEO of ACA Connects, an advocate in Washington D.C. for 800+ rural broadband providers, such as Boycom (Patty is the Chair of ACA Connects). Polka indicates that the other members are easily handling the traffic thanks to the billions of dollars of continual investment in their respective end-to-end networks. In the above interview, Polka said that later this week, ACA Connects will be releasing results of a survey of its members that point to the fruits of these investments.

ACA members are often the technology leaders in their respective communities. And regarding technology, Tom Coughlin of Coughlin Associates and past president of IEEE-USA describes that volunteer-driving organization and their efforts to provide additional resources to support its members during COVID-19.

Coughlin projects that the new normal “will lead to greater use of communications to solve physical issues.”  This could mean even more technology to bridge the gap, such as virtual reality and wireless to allow people to wander around while they talk and to pick up the subtle body cues that are an important part of communication. The panel agreed that we will be even more dependent upon the technologies in a post-COVID-19 world.

Conversation Highlights:

01:47 – Tom Coughlin explains the resources available to help IEEE-USA members during the COVID-19 pandemic (including comic books to keep kids and adults entertained_. See more at

10:41 – Matt Polka provides an overview of ACA Connects and what its members are doing to support their communities. See more at

21:57 – This author references a blog post, that Matt wrote, about the importance of balancing private and public resources in serving the unserved.

23:46 – Patty Boyers provides the inspirational story of how she and her husband founded a cable company to serve the area where she lives. This grew out of their underground construction business. She touts the SBA as a great resource for small operators (see this video for more detail).

29:11 Patty reveals what Steve Boyers and, the late, great Country and Western singer, Tammy Wynette have in common.

30:24 – Boycom was able to connect the Gamma Labs CEO via a Fiber to the Home installation in a protected way using their pole to ped to the porch installation technique outfitted in full protective equipment.

32:53 – Patty describes how Boycom is working with their communities and setting up WiFi Hotspots in Church parking lots. What makes this unique is that the teachers visit in person.

37:18 – Matt Polka explains the Connected America Pledge and the associated response by ACA Members to make sure that the COVID-19 pandemic does not worsen the so-called digital divide.

40:56 – The participants discuss how access, affordability, and devices are key elements to keeping students connected.

42:53 – The idea of virtual school infrastructure is discussed.

47:44 – Tom Coughlin points to the different types of traffic flows and how broadband and associated applications have worked and will change things going forward.

49:45 – This author mentions a counseling organization of which Matt Polka is a board member and an article referenced on that organization’s website about the importance of the physical in human-to-human connections and that is still lacking with electronic communications. Going forward, as virtual reality becomes more prevalent, perhaps this will change.

52:10 – Patty talks about her impressive cattle operation and gives her opinion about golf, ““The biggest waste of a good pasture is a golf course.”

54:51 – Matt makes the determination that Patty did not use one of the FCC”s seven forbidden words. Tom points out to Ken that she was referring to a farm animal.

55:53 – Patty talks about the joy she gets from being Chair of ACA Connects. She points out how local broadband providers connect their communities beyond broadband by being the sponsors of youth sports teams, etc.

01:00:20 – Matt talks about the stickiness of retransmission fees and why the cost of programming has not yet decreased.

01:03:11 – Tom reflects on the importance of the telecommunications industry to everyday life.

01:05:09 – Patty describes a grant they were just awarded to serve 1,600 rural homes with FTTH. This is a grant program where the State of Missouri is putting up half the money, with the other half from Boycom. At approximately $200 per home, it is extremely efficient. Boyers believes a decentralized approach, whereby government funding is at the state level is much more efficient as it is easier to match needs and supplies.

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