Moving & Shaking in the Mile High City: Highlights from the NTCA 2019 Fall Conference

By Carolyn Just, PR Manager – NTCA—The Rural Broadband Association

Sunny Denver, Colo., welcomed more than 1,400 attendees for the NTCA 2019 Fall Conference this week. It was a jam-packed week filled with entertaining speakers, informative learning sessions, industry insights, perspectives on the future and of course…fun!

Sunday, September 22

In anticipation of a busy day on Monday, NTCA committee members arrived Sunday for valuable committee meetings and fellowship opportunities. The NTCA Government Affairs Committee, for instance, discussed a myriad of policy issues from mapping initiatives to combatting unwanted robocalls and an update on the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s ReConnect program. Later that night, conference attendees enjoyed downtown Denver during NTCA staff-hosted dine arounds where fun was had by all. (Our sympathies go to the Cleveland Browns fans who watched Sunday Night Football with our crew).  

Monday, September 23

The first official day of programming kicked off with special guest U.S. Secretary of Agriculture Sonny Perdue. Before speaking, Secretary Perdue dined with the NTCA Board of Directors to discuss efforts to expand broadband to rural America. Then, Secretary Perdue took to the main stage to speak about the importance of broadband for every industry from businesses on Main Street to education and of course, agriculture. He reiterated a phrase NTCA members know well: broadband is not a luxury. It is a necessity. 

Conference attendees also gave outgoing NTCA Board Chairman Kevin Beyer a warm and grateful “thank you” for his work at the helm of the NTCA board this past year. 

We cannot of course talk about the NTCA 2019 Fall Conference without talking about the 2019 Smart Rural Communities Showcase Award winners. What an exceptional group of member companies this year! Eleven companies in nine states received trophies by demonstrating that providing broadband service is just the beginning. These companies demonstrated how their networks power everything from telemedicine to TV shows to the National Guard. Way to go! Information about our winners is at this link and more information on how to join the Smart Rural Communities program is available here

Conference attendees also enjoyed a lively conversation between NTCA CEO Shirley Bloomfield and Stephanie Copeland, executive director of The Governance Project, on economic development and policy solutions for rural America as well as a riveting presentation by “Non-Obvious” author Rohit Bhargava. 

Finally, the day wrapped up with a fundraising event hosted by the Foundation for Rural Service (FRS) at Mile High Station. Fun was had by all – from extra-large Jenga, corn hole, live music, and of course Ron Laudner and his hair-raising fundraiser

Tuesday, September 24 

For women members, Day 2 began with the Women in Telecom breakfast as part of the new NTCA initiative of the same name. More information on the program is available here. Throughout the day, conference attendees enjoyed terrific educational programming on the realities of robocalls to how to futureproof the workforce and the ins and outs of network security – an issue top of mind for NTCA as National Cybersecurity Awareness month and the NTCA Cybersecurity Summit are right around the corner in October. 

Finally, the day wrapped with an entertaining dinner at Coors Field hosted by the NTCA Rural Broadband PAC. For more information about the PAC and the good work it supports, visit the link here.

Wednesday, September 25

After a networking breakfast, conference attendees heard from FRS Executive Director Pam Becker and FRS Board Chairwoman Carri Bennett on all the amazing initiatives the foundation supports, from the annual Youth Tour to the FRS grant program and the extraordinary services provided by the Virtual Living Room initiative. 

Attendees also benefitted from an engaging panel on using the power of data to influence industry insights, hosted by Shirley Bloomfield with speakers Stephen Milner, CEO and general manager of Planters Telephone Cooperative and Jim Turner, CEO of IFN. The audience then heard from a panel hosted by NTCA Vice President of Policy Josh Seidemann on technology and workforce trends for 2020 and beyond. 

Last but certainly not least, the 2019 Fall Conference officially closed with a rousing speech from author, commentator, and all-around entertainer David Pogue on consumer technology trends that he foresees will be vital for the future. Attendees were even treated to a few songs from Mr. Pogue to wrap up the closing general session. 

The Fall Conference was a wonderful event with great turnout, and of course stellar attendees. As always, NTCA appreciates all the work you do for your communities. Our jobs are easy when we represent you! I’m looking forward to seeing everyone next year for the 2020 Fall Conference in the Big Apple. Thank you for all your participation on social media, as well. More fun awaits! 

To see all the photos from the conference visit our Facebook page.