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BroadbandUSA Newsletter June 2018

Fri, June 01, 2018

Volume 3 | Issue 6 | June 2018

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Broadband and Precision Agriculture

In 2016, the U.S. had 2.1 million farms covering 911 million acres of land. These had an average size of 442 acres and about 99% of them were operated by families, according to the USDA National Agricultural Statistics (NASS). The FAO (Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations) predicts that food production must increase by 70% by 2050 in order to feed the predicted world population.

The agricultural industry is increasingly relying on “precision agriculture” to meet these challenges. According to the USDA, “Precision technologies—such as tractor guidance systems using a global positioning system (GPS), GPS soil and yield mapping, and variable-rate input applications (VRT)—help farms gather information on changing field conditions to adjust production practices.” Tapping into broadband wireless networks and embedding information technology (IT) devices in farm machinery such as tractors and harvesters, allow farmers to use “telematics” to optimize machine use for field preparation, precision planting, water optimization, harvesting and overall production efficiency Wearables for tracking the whereabouts and health of animals is another area under development. In addition, broadband enhances from competitiveness by providing an online platform to monitor real-time market prices and trends, purchase supplies, increase their customer base and market their products locally, regionally, nationally and globally.

Here are just a few examples of how precision agriculture or “smart farming” has made a difference in some communities:

Have a success story from your own community? Contact us at

Broadband News and Updates

Federal News

State News

Broadband Mapping

Public Safety/FirstNet

Stakeholder Resources


Smart Community and 5G News

BroadbandUSA Spotlight

Diverse Small Businesses Discuss FirstNet Opportunities at Matchmaking Event

On May 9, 2018, the U.S. Commerce Department brought together more than 100 small businesses for matchmaking opportunities with AT&T and five first-tier vendors helping AT&T build FirstNet, a nationwide broadband network and related services for first responders. The matchmaking event attracted diverse small businesses owned by service-disabled veterans, minorities, and women, as well as firms that are part of the U.S. Small Business Administration’s Historically Underutilized Business Zones (HUBZone) program. Commerce procurement officials from the Census Bureau, National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST), National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), U.S. Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO), and Enterprise Services shared information about upcoming federal contracts. NTIA, the FirstNet Authority, Veterans Affairs Office of Small & Disadvantaged Business Utilization (OSDBU) staff and the Department’s Office of Acquisition Management are working together to help small businesses gain opportunities through FirstNet and subcontracting opportunities through AT&T and its large business subcontractors. See the complete blog on the BroadbandUSA website.


NTIA Events

June 20, 2018
BroadbandUSA Practical Broadband Conversations Webinar Series: Smart Agriculture: Increasing Productivity Through Technology

Smart agriculture engages technologies such as Big Data, GPS, IoT and connected devices to help farmers and ranchers better manage their production. Using these technologies, farmers and ranchers can improve water efficiency, produce higher quality crops and raise healthier livestock. Reliable and robust rural connectivity are fundamental to helping farmers gain benefits from new technologies. The speakers will cover advances in smart agriculture equipment and sensors, the use of big data analytics for decision-making and highlight new innovation hubs, entrepreneurial support and test beds. The webinar will also feature the work of the NTIA/NIST jointly facilitated Global Cities Team Challenge Smart Agriculture and Rural SuperCluster to develop best practices.


  • Mark Lewellen, Manager of Spectrum Advocacy, John Deere

  • Aaron Ault, Senior Research Engineer for the Open Ag Technology and Systems Center, Purdue University

  • John Selep, President of AgTech Innovation Alliance

  • Moderator: Don Williams, Senior Specialist for Broadband Development, BroadbandUSA, NTIA

Register here

Visit our Webinar Archives for past presentations, transcripts and audio recordings.

Events of Interest

June 3 – 6, 2018
National Association of Regional Councils (NARC) Annual Conference & Exhibition, Orlando, FL. The program will feature a diverse slate of expert panels, educational sessions, and keynote presentations to help address challenges back home and NARC’s annual Awards Gala Dinner celebrating regional excellence among members. BroadbandUSA speaker: Katherine Bates

June 8 – 11, 2018
United States Conference of Mayors Annual Meeting, Boston, MA. The United States Conference of Mayors (USCM) is the official non-partisan organization of cities with populations of 30,000 or more. Each city is represented in the Conference by its chief elected official, the mayor. BroadbandUSA will be attending.

June 19, 2018
Upper Midwest E-Connectivity Listening Session – June 19 in Faribault, MN. Farm Foundation, NTCA-The Rural Broadband Association, NRECA, CFC, and CoBank are partnering with the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) to organize a series of listening sessions across the nation to gather insights into the tools that are needed to improve e-connectivity in rural America.

June 20 – 22, 2018
2018 GCTC-SC3 Tech Jam, Portland, OR. The Global Tech Jam brings together research institutions, federal agencies, leading private sector companies, and municipalities interested in preparing their infrastructure for the latest technologies to provide better, more equitable services. This three-day conference will feature Transportation/Mobility with participation from other policy areas including Energy/Water/Waste Management, Public Safety, Wireless, City Platform/Dashboard, Data Governance and Exchange, and Agriculture and Rural. BroadbandUSA speaker: Jean Rice

June 20 – 22, 2018
National Association of Latino Elected and Appointed Officials (NALEO) and NALEO Educational Fund 35th Annual Conference, Phoenix, AZ. The conference is a source of professional development specifically tailored for Latino elected and appointed officials. Sessions at the Conference are designed to enhance the governance skills of participants and deepen understanding of critical policy issues in a cross-jurisdictional context. BroadbandUSA speaker: Scott Woods

June 21 – 26, 2018
American Library Association (ALA) Annual Conference and Exhibition, New Orleans, LA. The conference brings together librarians, authors, publishers, business professionals, educators and students - anyone who is passionate about books, libraries, and eager to learn and shape the future of the industry.

June 21 – 22, 2018
Digital Inclusion Policy and Research Conference, University of Liverpool, London, UK. The conference will draw upon over two decades of research, policy, and practice. Over this time digital inequalities and digital inclusion practice have chh3>anged in response to developments in digital technologies and media. BroadbandUSA Speaker: Doug Kinkoph

Policy Corner

On May 17, 2018, David J. Redl, Assistant Secretary for Communications and Information and NTIA Administrator spoke at the Media Institute Communications Forum Luncheon. Mr. Redl observed that “there are many facets to the digital divide, but one of the toughest challenges is getting broadband networks deployed in rural areas with difficult terrain and low population density. Progress has also been slowed by bureaucracy, including expensive and lengthy application processes and regulatory reviews.” Mr. Redl noted that NTIA is working to improve federal coordination through an interagency working group, co-chaired with the Department of Agriculture’s Rural Utilities Service. The working group is focusing on three areas: federal permitting, federal funding and leveraging federal assets for broadband deployment. See the complete remarks on the NTIA website.