Rising Above Political Divisions – TIS20 Wrap-up with Matt Polka

“Hopefully, we can rise above political divisions and focus on better mapping, better identification of who needs broadband, and how we can work together to make sure they get it,” states Matt Polka. Polka, president and CEO of ACA Connects, is referring to a comment made at last week’s 2020 Independent Show (TIS20) by political journalist Ron Brownstein comparing to today’s political environment to the 1850s.

In the above interview, Polka reinforces comments he made at TIS20 about the importance of listening to views and opinions that we might not share. Finding common ground is critical, particularly for a smaller organization like ACA Connects, for creating good policy, according to Polka.

Polka also provides commentary on statements by Rep. Mike Doyle (D-PA) about 5G and the need for the broadband industry to step up its game regarding connecting all students. Polka also reflects on FCC Commissioner’s Rosenworcel’s statement that we should have a goal of ensuring that, “No child is left offline.” He also addresses the challenge of broadband mapping.

Finally, Polka provides an early preview of ACA Connects Summit 21.

  • 00:44 – “We had more content than we could use,” explains Matt Polka in describing last week’s Independent Show. Specifically, he was talking about the content from the CEO panel and how we can expect to see content that was edited out appear in different venues over the coming months. Polka points out that the advantage to the hybrid-recorded virtual conference is the ability to bring in so many more voices.
  • 02:39 – Polka comments on Brownstein’s comment comparing today to the 1850s and the parallels, if any, of broadband and the transcontinental railroad. Polka points out that there is a bipartisan belief that broadband is a critical and needed infrastructure. He credits “lighter touch regulation” as a reason for the more than $10B broadband investment the past few years by ACA Connects member. thanks to “lighter touch regulation.” He believes that the government should focus on the gaps, where private funding is not enough to bring broadband to everyone. He is concerned that the political environment could revert to a Title II, net neutrality regulation, which would reduce certainty and dry up capital for broadband expansion.
  • 08:36 – Polka talks about the importance of listening to each other and finding common ground, as we are all in this together.
  • 10:23 – The role of 5G and where it fits in, particularly in rural America, is a topic of discussion. As much as 5G is wireless, Polka points out that fiber is integral to 5G success. Ken brings up Hargray and its fiber network, which is driving the CuriosityLab in Peachtree Corners, GA.
  • 14:24 – Matt explains the K-12 Bridge to Broadband program and how that effort is an example of how the broadband industry is stepping up to help schools and students.
  • 16:12 – Polka talks about FCC Commissioner Rosenworcel’s idea of using e-rate to provide devices to students who would otherwise not be able to participate in virtual learning.
  • 21:24– The discussion leads to Rosenworcel’s criticism of the accuracy of the FCC’s broadband mapping.
  • 23:41 Polka provides a preview of next year’s hybrid live-recorded ACA Connects Summit. Ken attempts humor by making fun of Washington D.C.