20 years of connecting the nation: a national conversation on the Digital Divide

Bowling Green, Ky. (September 21, 2021) – Connected Nation (CN) is marking 20 years of service in 2021 by hosting a one-of-a-kind, live event that will air nationally from three US cities on Wednesday, November 17 from 11am to 3pm (eastern). Registration for the live event is free at cn20.org.

“We have been focused on closing the Digital Divide for more than two decades, and as we move through 2021, we recognize that now is perhaps the most critical time in our journey; the cost of being disconnected today is more debilitating and expensive than in any other time in history. For this reason, we decided to bring together industry insiders, broadband experts, and those most directly impacted by the need for better connectivity,” said Tom Ferree, Chairman & CEO, Connected Nation. “By hosting a national conversation that addresses where we’ve been and what we’ve learned, how the pandemic changed the way we view and approach digital equity, and what’s next when it comes to access in America, we are saying that, together, we can create lasting and positive change for every child, family, and community in the US.”

This one-time event entitled “20 years of connecting the nation: a national conversation on the Digital Divide” will feature live, expert panel discussions from RFD-TV and American Farm Bureau studios in Washington, DC; Fort Bend Independent School District in Sugar Land, Texas (just outside Houston); and KGW8-TV in Portland, Oregon.   

You’ll also hear stories from business owners and farmers working in rural communities; teachers and students impacted by remote learning; doctors and mental health practitioners advocating for the expansion of telehealth; and others. You’ll walk away with a real-world understanding of how internet connectivity directly impacts our lives and what can be done to expand access to all. 

Registration is free and the event can be viewed from anywhere in the world virtually. Connected Nation will reveal the list of expert panelists in early October.  Meanwhile, the panel topic and descriptions are below.

Panel: Infrastructure and Emerging Technology
Live from RFD-TV and American Farm Bureau studios in Washington, DC

Description: This panel will focus on work to expand high-speed internet infrastructure, especially for identifying solutions to help connect “the last mile” in rural areas, and on emerging technologies within the broadband space.

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Panel: Rural broadband conversation  
Live from Fort Bend Independent School District’s studios just outside Houston, Texas

Description: Right now, millions of rural residents lack sufficient access to the internet. No discussion on the Digital Divide is complete without a conversation about the unique challenges and opportunities for expanding broadband across rural communities.

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Panel: Broadband Data Improvement 2008 vs. 2020
Live from NBC’s KGW8-TV studios in Portland, Oregon

Description: November 17 is GIS day making this panel timely and more relevant
than ever.  Panelists will discuss how the focus on improved broadband data has changed over the years, why it’s critical to finally closing the gap between those who have access and those who do not, and how a new approach to gathering broadband coverage data is expected to finally create real change at the federal level in 2022.

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Panel: Leadership at CN through the years  
Live from RFD-TV and American Farm Bureau studios in Washington, DC

Description: Connected Nation is marking 20 years of service in 2021. Through the last two decades, the national nonprofit has benefitted from experienced leadership. In this panel, we bring together Connected Nation’s leadership through the years to discuss how things began, how work to close the Digital Divide progressed, and what’s next on the horizon.

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Panel: How education is impacted by access or lack of it
Live from Fort Bend Independent School District’s studios just outside Houston, Texas

Description: The need for supporting learning is, perhaps, the most easily understood aspect of how the Digital Divide impacts our communities and families. The pandemic forced schools to shut down and millions of kids who did not have the internet access they needed for online classrooms lost months if not a year’s worth of learning.

In this panel, we will discuss the importance of broadband at home for education, how technology is impacting the way the modern classroom is changing, including how teachers leverage tech, and what’s next for educators, parents, and students.

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Panel: What 2020 means for the future of the Digital Divide
Live from NBC’s KGW8-TV studios in Portland, Oregon

Description: The COVID-19 pandemic changed the discussion around broadband. Rather than asking “why” someone might need internet access and better connectivity as they did pre-pandemic, most are now asking “what” needs to be done to expand access to all. 

This panel will focus on the impact of 2020 on the future of the Digital Divide, including what are expected to be far reaching effects of how a difficult year has changed the discussion around access, adoption, and use of technology.

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Panel: Beyond our borders  
Live from RFD-TV and American Farm Bureau studios in Washington, DC

Description:  This panel provides insight on how countries outside the US are tackling the need to expand access to the internet and its resources. Panelists will explore what’s taking place in hard to reach and developing countries and share how innovators in the broadband space are addressing the need to connectivity around the world. 

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MEDIA CONTACT:
Jessica Denson, Communications Director
Connected Nation
jdenson@connectednation.org
502-341-2024

About Connected Nation: The national nonprofit, based in Bowling Green, Kentucky, is celebrating 20 years of service in 2021. Our mission is to improve lives by providing innovative solutions that expand access to and increase the adoption and use of broadband (high-speed internet) and its related technologies for all people. Everyone belongs in a Connected Nation.  To learn more head to www.connectednation.org.

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