Jonathan Spalter

Dispatches from the Summit

It seems June in Colorado is the season for big ideas. The Aspen Ideas Festival is kicking off a few hours away, assembling some of the world’s great innovators and thinkers. What are they talking about?

Climate change.
Civic Engagement.

The big issues that propel our economy forward and speak directly to our quality of life—all issues being transformed by the connected world made possible by USTelecom member companies.

The people here today are the original innovators.

For more than a century—122 years last month to be precise—USTelecom member companies have connected this nation to opportunity. It started with phone lines, sometimes in those early days carrying voices over cattle wire.

Now, the companies here—our members, our partners in infrastructure and deployment, those who harness the potential of broadband and convert it into myriad innovations—remain at the center of what unites us as a nation and a global community and propels us forward.

We still deploy opportunity—this time, to the most important enabling technology of the modern world.

Our Leadership Summit brings us together among these awesome Rocky Mountain summits to focus, elevate, transform, create, and evolve.

We will explore together topics ranging from 5G and the Internet of Things—or what I call “wired wireless.” We will examine the dynamic interplay of capital markets, private equity, and public-private partnerships and broadband infrastructure, strategies for turning the tables on digital disruptors, and a deep dive on broadband growth in the age of the 4th industrial revolution where the internet is ubiquitous, and everything is connected and sentient with the rise of AI and machine learning.

With each turn of the industrial wheel, the pace of change has accelerated exponentially, and the breadth and scope of the impact has expanded dramatically—reaching now around the world. USTelecom is leading an unprecedented collaboration across the public and private sectors, broadband providers, consumer technology companies and more to fight what American CEOs identified in a recent PwC survey as the No. 1 threat to their bottom lines in 2019—cybersecurity.

We are insisting on a viable and effective path to a truly connected nation that leaves no American behind. That means adequate funding for the staggering scale of the task before us in connecting our nation’s final frontier, but it also means effectively targeting these finite taxpayer dollars to truly unserved areas.

We are insisting on a viable and effective path to a truly connected nation that leaves no American behind.

People are floored when I tell them that in the modern age of ‘big data,’ our nation lacks clear visibility into where broadband does not yet reach. It’s astounding that in 2019, U.S. policy considers an entire rural census block as served if one household has a connection. Rather than sending an outraged Tweet, we’re doing something about it. Our companies are banding together to “map this gap” in two states, so we can deliver a proof of concept pilot project—literally hand over a ‘how to’ guide to the FCC or other agency to take this system national.

So, the connections run deep across our companies—from policy to business, to our aspirations for meaningful impact on the world around us—from our largest to our smallest. You are the wired, digital backbone of the global economy. You are our indispensable innovators. You are our broadband heroes. It’s time to collectively flex our muscle as a unified, powerful, innovating and evolving industry.