No government-funded overbuilds is the message that Patricia (Patty) Jo Boyers has for policymakers and regulators. She explains that it is critical that the tens of billions of dollars of federal funding, such as the $42.5B BEAD program, finance the building of broadband networks for the unserved and underserved; not to locations that already have broadband.
As a first-generation cable provider that has evolved to be a broadband operator, Boyers admits that this issue is personal. 30 years ago, she and her husband saw a need in their rural Missouri area and applied their outside plant contracting expertise to bring cable television to an area that couldn’t receive broadcast stations. That pipe was the also basis for bringing the Internet to communities that would have otherwise been overlooked by entities focused on more profitable suburban and urban areas.
With approximately 5,000 Revenue Generating Units (RGUs), Boyers, the President/CEO of Boycom and Chairman of ACA Connects, still has a close relationship with her customers. In the above interview, filmed at ACA Connects 2023 Summit, she explains how, after chairing the ACA Connects‘ board meeting, she took a phone call from and arranged a service call for a local veteran who is switching from satellite service to Boycom’s fiber.
In the above interview and throughout the 2023 ACA Connects Summit, Boyers emphasizes that operators must make sure their respective voices are heard. In her words, government funding should go to the “But for” locations. She describes these as locations that would be underserved or unserved, but for public-private partnerships.
Working with the Cartesian Group and using FCC Broadband Data , ACA Connects developed a framework for each State and Territory as to how they can use BEAD funding to serve these “But for” locations. As Boyers indicates, a public-private partnership is necessary. ACA Connects’ analysis assumes a $22B private contribution that supplements the $42B BEAD funding to close the rural digital divide.
There is no margin for error in these calculations. Or, Boyers points out, funding directed to overbuilding existing broadband networks is funding that cannot go toward the underserved and unserved.
ViodiTV coverage of the 2023 ACA Connects’ Summit courtesy of Calix