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Broadband Solutions Manager shares lessons learned, connectivity tips

Sierra Sees celebrates one-year anniversary at Connected Nation with a trip down memory lane

Fairview, Texas (April 6, 2022) — Confucius once said, “Choose a job you love, and you will never have to work a day in your life.” We’ve all heard that adage, but that’s truly how I feel as a member of the team at Connected Nation. 

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Sierra Sees with State Rep. Stan Lambert and Lauren E. Decker, Executive Vice President
Rolling Plains Cotton Growers, Inc. at the “Rural Broadband and What it Means to You” panel 

April 1 marks my first anniversary with the national nonprofit, and to say it’s been a whirlwind would be an understatement. From amazing coworkers to exceptional community partners, I have worked alongside some of the greatest in the business these past 365 days. To celebrate my first year with this one-of-a-kind organization, I am recounting lessons learned, go-to connectivity tips for rural communities, and my favorite memories. 

A time for action

Working in the broadband space during a global pandemic has been unique, to say the least. Navigating the ins and outs of Zoom, Microsoft Teams, GoToMeeting, Google Meet, Uber Conference, and WebEx (did I get them all?!) certainly has had its challenges. But I've learned many lessons along the way. 

Did you know that even a broadband solutions manager living in a big city loses connectivity every now and again — sometimes in the middle of a really important presentation? Other lessons had nothing to do with broadband. I discovered the best donuts in Texas are in Wichita Falls at Circle M Bakery. 

Perhaps the greatest lesson I learned is that now is the time for action to bridge the Digital Divide. Never have we seen such investment — both financially and in personnel — from states and the federal government dedicated to bringing better broadband to rural Americans. The landmark Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act, signed into law in November 2021, promises a whopping $65 billion for broadband. This funding brings a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to bridge the digital gaps across America. 

Connectivity tips

The lessons I’ve learned have informed my go-to connectivity tips for rural communities. While no two communities are ever alike, they often share similar connectivity needs. Implementing local solutions designed to improve broadband access and adoption will go a long way toward meeting these needs. Here are my top three tips.

  • Find your people: Having someone who is passionate about improving broadband in your community can make all the difference. Every community should have a go-to broadband contact for questions, meetings, and project ideas. 
  • Promote affordable options: To fully address the Digital Divide, we need to address affordability gaps. The Affordable Connectivity Program is an FCC benefit program that does just that. To find out if you (or your neighbors) qualify, visit this link:
  • Educate, educate, educate: Society is increasingly dependent on technology for day-to-day activities. Digital literacy education goes a long way to ensuring residents have the skills and know-how to navigate this ever-changing tech landscape.

Since April 1, 2021, I’ve driven thousands of miles across the Lone Star State, traveling to new towns, meeting new people, sampling incredible food, and miraculously only taking two wrong exits. I’ve given a presentation during a fire alarm. (Note to self: turn the Zoom camera off when evacuating the building next time.) I’ve made new friends across Texas and across the country. It might sound cliché, but the past year has ultimately been all about connections, whether it's a connection to the internet or a connection to each other. The way I see it, you can't have one without the other

I’ve seen and done a lot in the past year and look forward to the adventures that await in the years to come. Thanks to each of you for being part of the journey!

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About the Author: Sierra Sees is a Broadband Solutions Manager for Connected Nation. Sierra coordinates and manages the activities of planning teams in support of Connected Nation’s Connected Community Engagement Program and the development of community-specific community team creation, data gathering, and technology action planning.