Virtual Merit Member Conference 2020 Registration Now Open! Only $15 per Member!

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Angela Siefer, Executive Director, National Digital Inclusion Alliance

Paolo Balboa, Manager of Programs and Data, National Digital Inclusion Alliance

Sean Davis, Manager of Research and Policy, National Digital Inclusion Alliance

The National Digital Inclusion Alliance (NDIA) has developed a body of resources to assist community anchor institutions seeking to increase digital equity and digital inclusion within their communities. The Michigan Moonshot has partnered with the NDIA to provide these resources to Merit Member organizations. Building from information gathered during the Michigan Moonshot Digital Inclusion Roundtable, this webinar will walk through digital inclusion resources that are available to members and the ways in which they might be utilized to assist members of the community.


January 14, 2021



Ben Fineman, President & Co-Founder, Michigan Broadband Cooperative

Pierette Widmeyer, Director of Marketing & Communications, Merit Network


The Michigan Moonshot team has collaborated with national subject matter experts to write and build a community network broadband toolkit and framework. This step-by-step guide provides local champions with a playbook for understanding and deploying a regional network. Our speakers will provide an overview of the contents of this free resource in addition to outlining tangible next steps in your connectivity journey.


Charlotte Bewersdorff, Vice President for Community Engagement, Merit Network

Dr. Johannes Bauer, Quello, Chair for Media and Information Policy, Michigan State University


5 million households with school-aged children in the US lack access to broadband, creating the “homework gap,” which is likely to reinforce socio-economic divides that limit opportunities for households on the margins. Access to and use of the internet has become an integral component of everyday life in the 21st century. It is imperative for communities to leverage broadband network access for education, telemedicine, public safety and workforce development to maintain the quality of life. This presentation will explore the Michigan Moonshot’s approach to crowdsourced broadband availability data. We will also discuss preliminary results from our pilot data collection efforts and the ways in which communities might leverage data collection to better inform their broadband plans.


Joanne Hovis, President, CTC Technology & Energy


Investigating the feasibility of broadband requires a financial model. Components of a financial model, such as the inputs and outputs and the ways in which modeling might be used as a tool for business planning will be explored. Various financial models examples will be provided as real-world examples. Pitfalls and best practice guidelines will also be shared.


Kevin Hayes, Chief Information Security Officer, Merit Network


As a broadband network operator, you are a special and valuable target for attackers the world over.  In addition to the threat of having your own sensitive organizational and payment information breached, your network could be the weak link that attackers focus on when assaulting your clients and members.  In this presentation, learn how to harden your organization and service network from these pervasive attacks, navigate the regulations in force by governmental authorities, and act as a model Internet citizen in ensuring infected customers cause little to no damage to either your own systems or the Internet at large.


Chris Ritzo, Program Management & Community Lead, Measurement Lab at Code for Science and Society


Broadband Internet service has become essential for most aspects of modern life, yet we know that the availability and quality of Internet service varies widely by location and price. Accurate data on broadband availability from federal government agencies is supposed to inform our understanding of where federal dollars should be invested to improve service quality and availability equitably across the nation. While this data has flaws and inaccuracies, the FCC is ostensibly working to improve the accuracy of provider data, and other government agencies like NTIA are also working on data and visualizations. While we wait for improvements in official government data, community and industry led initiatives are seeking to collect their own broadband availability, quality of service, speed, and pricing.

This webinar will share information about the publicly available datasets and tools from Measurement Lab (M-Lab), and how they have been used for planning, decision making, and advocacy. M-Lab is an open source, civil society led, global platform for measuring broadband Internet service. In addition to supporting a portion of the FCC’s Measuring Broadband America program since its beginnings, M-Lab’s open source tools and data have been used in similar initiatives on local and regional levels, enabling communities to gather data about broadband in their communities, including the Michigan Moonshot initiative.


Jonathan Sallet, Senior Fellow of the Benton Institute for Broadband & Society


In October 2019, the Benton Institute published a report by Jonathan Sallet emphasizing the connection between broadband, economic growth and individual economic opportunity. Now faced with twin health and economic crises, the need for broadband is greater than ever. Jonathan will discuss the potential impact of today’s emergencies on the long-term prospect for ensuring that everyone in American has access to high-performance broadband, on the continuing importance of state and local leadership in broadband, and on potential short-term federal action.


Chris Mitchell, Director of Community Broadband Networks,
Institute for Local Self-Reliance


Local residents, business owners, and community leaders face many challenges when addressing insufficient Internet access. Not only do these individuals need to understand what solutions are available to them, they must identify and apply the solution that best fits their needs. This webinar will explore the trade-offs, capacity, and economics behind common Internet access technologies, including cable, DSL, mobile wireless, fixed wireless, satellite, and fiber optic. Attendees will leave with the confidence to engage in broadband discussions, debates, and efforts to improve broadband Internet access.


Jim Baller, President of Baller Stokes & Lide / President of Coalition for Local Internet Choice

Michael Watza, Partner, Kitch Drutchas Wagner et al/General Counsel to PROTEC


This presentation will explore some of the legal and regulatory issues posed by local broadband initiatives and public-private partnerships.

During the last 25 years, Jim Baller has been involved in many of the leading community broadband initiatives and public-private partnerships in the United States, including more than 75 fiber projects. Since the early 1990s, he has also been a vigorous defender of local governments in dozens of battles in Washington and in the states over restrictions on the right of communities to control their own broadband futures. Jim will address the critical opportunities and challenges that communities considering broadband initiatives are likely to face.

Michael Watza has been a tireless advocate of local community self-governance and community broadband as a means for residents to overcome connectivity issues. Going head to head with an often overbearing telecommunications industry, Mike has helped several Michigan-based communities fight through legal barriers. He will discuss these experiences and touch on future projects currently in the pipeline.


Matthew R. Rantanen, Director of Technology, Southern California Tribal Chairmen’s Association | Director, Tribal Digital Village (TDVNet) Network Initiative

About Matthew:

Irene Flannery, Director, AMERIND Critical Infrastructure

About Irene:


The FCC is responsible for managing and licensing the electromagnetic spectrum for commercial and non-commercial users. When this project was first known as the Education Broadcast Service spectrum, the 2.5GHz plan was underutilized, resulting in a recall and subsequent auctioning to the highest bidder. Sustained efforts from members of Indian Country and its Inter-Tribal organizations, peers, friends and advocacy groups resulted in the creation of the “Tribal Priority.” For the first time in history, Tribal Nations have an exclusive opportunity to secure unassigned eligible mid-band 2.5GHz spectrum over rural tribal lands to provide advanced broadband wireless services, including 5G. With the August 3rd deadline approaching, interested parties have limited time to take action. Our presenters will provide insight into the application process as well as free resources available to communities for application support.


2.5 GHz Rural Tribal Window Resources

2.5 GHz Rural Tribal Window Presentation


Jim Selby, President & CEO, Aspen Wireless

Michael Reen, Municipal Program Manager, Aspen Wireless


The METRO Act regulates requirements for municipalities interested in building their own broadband infrastructure. Steps of the METRO Act include formalized project development, RFP consulting, preliminary design for cost benefit analysis, public education and more. Michigan Moonshot Marketplace partner Aspen Wireless will walk communities through METRO Act requirements to provide an understanding of the steps needed to become shovel-ready.


Jeff Christensen, President, EntryPoint Networks


As the internet emerged and moved from science experiment to commercial system, it was not initially obvious that this new global network would become a foundational system for society. The leaders of the telephone and cable TV industries recognized an opportunity and took action, capitalizing on the first-mover advantage. These companies leveraged existing infrastructure and consolidated their respective industries to take control of the onramp to the internet. Utilizing a profit-driven approach, these incumbent operators did not organize their strategy around building the most reliable networks or optimizing for customers’ interests.

This webinar will explore whether the importance of broadband networks to society merits restructuring our internet access model.

Tom Duszynski, Director, Marketing & Service Management Team, Wayne State University
Charlotte Bewersdorff, Vice President for Community Engagement, Merit Network

As the COVID-19 pandemic continues to impact educational institutions, universities are forced to adapt to a new operational structure. In order to measure the campus community’s readiness and needs for virtual learning and working, Wayne State University is partnering with the Michigan Moonshot to deploy citizen-scientist data collection efforts. The goal of these efforts is to provide accurate, unbiased connectivity data regarding which properties do and do not currently have internet access, as well as a realistic representation of current broadband coverage and speeds.

In this webinar, Wayne State’s Tom Duszynski and Merit Network’s Charlotte Bewersdorff discuss how the citizen-scientist data collection technique can be used to support broadband internet expansion efforts, and to help further inform the university’s remote technology support services in response to the COVID-19 pandemic.

Angela Siefer, Executive Director, National Digital Inclusion Alliance

Sabrina Roach, Program Director, National Digital Inclusion Alliance

Merit and the Michigan Moonshot are working to develop resources which will help our members and community anchor institutions further digital inclusion efforts within their own organizations. In order for us to understand the needs of our members and identify the best ways to support them, we have invited Angela Siefer, the Executive Director of the National Digital Inclusion Alliance (NDIA), and NDIA Program Director Sabrina Roach, to lead a roundtable discussion with our community anchor institutions. This discussion will contain an overview of the current state of digital equity, tips on how to evaluate which barriers exist, and potential solutions that can be applied to overcome those barriers. The NDIA is a leader of the digital literacy and digital equity movement. Since 2015, the NDIA has advocated for local, state and federal policies to promote digital equity and support local digital inclusion strategies.


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