Show cover of Connected Nation

Connected Nation

This is Connected Nation – an award-winning podcast focused on all things broadband. From closing the Digital Divide to simply improving your internet speeds, we talk technology topics that impact all of us, our families, and our communities.The Connected Nation podcast is going on the road.  We'll be at the inaugural US Broadband Summit Nov. 15-17 in Washington, DC.  Join us and share your broadband stories. Learn more about the national nonprofit behind this podcast at 


Why some say access to the internet at home is more important than running water
On this episode of Connected Nation,  we talk with the CEO of Fiber Fast Homes – a company that works directly with real estate developers and builders to connect homes and rental buildings to lightning-fast internet.Learn how the company approaches working with builders,  what’s next when it comes to connectivity to the home, and why some say having internet access at home is more important than having water piped to the home. Related links:Fiber Fast Homes’ website - Listen to the Airebeam podcast featuring CEO Ben Elkins    
23:49 12/4/23
"This is a once in a lifetime thing." A look into Arizona's fastest growing fiber to home and fixed wireless provider
On this episode of Connectede Nation, we are joined by Ben Elkins, CEO of AireBeam Internet.  He shares his mission to bring fiber to the rural communities of Arizona with the capabilities of a massive ISP and the personality of a small-town organization.Ben speaks with our host, Jessica Denson, about the wide range of groups AireBeam serves, the unique challenges of focusing on rural communities, and the importance of serving the modular home market (RV parks).Recommended Links:Website - (X) - -'s LinkedIn -
35:13 11/27/23
U.S. Broadband Summit: Discussing State, Native, and Publicly-owned broadband solutions
On this episode of Connected Nation, we complete our coverage of the US Broadband Summit taking place in Washington, DC.Among our guests: Quinn Jordan, who founded the Mississippi Broadband Association; Donald Long Knife who built broadband access from the ground up for his tribe in Montana; and Gigi Sohn, who has a long history of public service, including with the Federal Communications Commission (FCC),  co-founding Public Knowledge, and  now leading the American Association for Public Broadband as its Executive Director.  Related links:U.S. Broadband Summit website -
67:22 11/17/23
Broadband and Brews: Bringing together industry insiders
On this episode of Connected Nation, we talk with broadband leaders across the country including the founder of SHLB and those leading Puerto Rico’s Broadband Program.  Topics ranged from solving the ‘people problem’ the broadband industry is having right now to changing how federal officials approach awarding billions of dollars in funding. And it all happened at a little event dubbed “Broadband and Brews.”Related links:U.S. Broadband Summit website -
60:08 11/16/23
Improving connectivity across America: Go inside the Inaugural U.S. Broadband Summit
From industry insiders to government officials, many leaders in the broadband space believe we now have a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to close the Digital Divide in America.  That’s because there is finally a perfect storm – of sorts – with funding and understanding of why access and affordability to high-speed internet are critical.On this episode of Connected Nation, we take you inside the Inaugural U.S. Broadband Summit where internet service providers, nonprofits, customers, legislative leaders, and many others have come together to discuss how to finally make closing digital inequities across the US a reality. Related links:U.S. Broadband Summit website -
45:44 11/15/23
"Don't just talk about it. Be about it." Meet the Hall of Famer who is helping thousands of adults learn digital skills
On this episode of Connected Nation, we focus our attention on Teens Teach Tech - a program that's bridging generations by using the skills of teenagers to help adults take part in an increasingly digital world.  Learn how one pastor, who is also in the Gospel Hall of Fame, leveraged the program to help thousands of adults and teens.  Related link:Teens Teach Tech -
37:31 11/6/23
Small, smart towns: The company bringing smart technologies to rural America's schools, businesses, and towns
You’ve heard of smart tvs, smart phones, and smart homes – and even smart cities in urban areas.  On this episode of Connected Nation, we explore similar ideas for rural America and it includes Smart Towns, Smart Education, and Smart Business. We talked with those leading these programs during the ConneXions 2023 Conference hosted by Calix and found out what exactly those offerings can do. Related Links:Calix website - -
20:10 10/18/23
Women in telecom share why it's a great time to have more women working in broadband
The broadband space has traditionally been a male-dominated industry – but that’s changing and more and more women are filling positions in the industry at all levels from the C-Suite to entry.On this episode of Connected Nation, we go inside the 2023 Calix Connections conference to talk with some of those women about why they’re drawn to the broadband industry – and what they want us all to know.  
19:48 10/17/23
100th Episode: Talking tribal broadband with the nation's first tribally owned telecommunications company
This marks Connected Nation's 100th episode.  On this episode, we focus on the critical need to approach closing the Digital Divide on Native American lands with respect, humility, and long-term commitment. We'll discuss the issue Calix's  senior engagement manager for tribal and indigenous communities and with a representative from the first tribally-owned telecommunications company in the U-S, which was founded more than 65 years ago. Related links:CRST Telephone Authority - Broadband Bootcamps -
32:33 10/16/23
Behind the company that's taking on cyberbullies and creating "smart towns" in rural America
On this episode of Connected Nation, we discuss what resources families can access to combat the harmful effects of social media on the mental health of America’s youth. It’s a problem that’s grown so large and so serious that the US Surgeon General recently issued a call for urgent action to policymakers, technology companies, researchers, families, and others to protect teenagers and children online. We’ll talk to two companies that are answering that call AND learn how they're working together to deliver access to critical technology in small towns.Related links:Surgeon General advisory on social mediaAbout Calix - Tombigbee Fiber - release - release - 
36:56 10/16/23
The nuts and bolts: How "dumb infrastructure" is the backbone of America's connectivity
Today, we speak with Tillman Infrastructure, a rapidly growing, carrier-trusted tower company that develops, owns, and operates assets providing connectivity infrastructure to communities across the United States.We discuss the challenges for expanding that critical infrastructure – find out what it really takes to connect small towns and farmlands.External Links: Website:  
22:05 10/16/23
New national research points to opportunities and action steps to shrink the Digital Divide
On this episode of Connected Nation, we discuss new research that focuses on who is directly impacted by the Digital Divide and WHY they are still not getting online – even if offered financial assistance.  Learn what the new data shows about the challenges, opportunities, and attitudes for closing the digital equity gap. Plus, we’ll discuss what those findings mean for shifting how organizations and government agencies approach the problem moving forward. Related links: Mind the Gap: Closing the Digital Divide through affordability, access, and adoption AT&T Connected Learning  AT&T ScreenReadyNational PTA: Ready, Tech, Go!
44:37 10/9/23
Three billion people worldwide don’t have internet access, this is how one company says we can fix it
On this episode of Connected Nation, we ask “what if we could bridge the Digital Divide around the world by 2030?”  That means connecting more than three billion people who do not have internet access. The CEO and Founder of World Mobile says it’s doable but only if we make networks that are “by the people, for the people.”  He explains what needs to be done, how it will work, and what this means for the future of broadband connectivity. Related links: |International website - website - Mobile’s blog World Mobile secures license spectrum in the US - “Mr. Telecom” Watkins’ LinkedIn profile - Twitter:World Mobile - Watkins - Facebook: 
39:23 9/6/23
Research: How the Digital Divide and the connected home are changing in America
On this episode of Connected Nation, we talk with leadership from Amdocs about new research that shows a new kind of Digital Divide is surfacing in the U.S.  Plus, we explore the future of connectivity including how to more easily manage all those high-tech, wifi-enabled devices we're adding to our offices, businesses, and homes. Related links:  Amdocs website - Divide Research - 
44:01 8/25/23
Grizzly bears, extreme weather, frozen ground: How one ISP is connecting people in the nation's last frontier
On this episode of Connected Nation, we focus on the nation’s largest and most remote state – Alaska.  Hear from leadership at MTA Solutions about the challenges of working across a massive frontier and learn about the historic terrestrial fiber connection to the "lower 48" that the company just completed.   Related links:MTA Solutions website - release: MTA Solutions creates historic terrestrial fiber connection from Alaska to Canada and Chicago
31:39 8/17/23
What Texans say it will take to better connect the second largest state in the nation
On this episode of Connected Nation, we take you deep into the heart of Texas as the state’s Broadband Development Office hosts a series of public meetings in both large and small communities.   Their goal is to collect input from local residents, business owners, community organizations, Internet Service Providers, and others to create a plan that will help expand and improve high-speed internet access across the state.   Hear from apublic official, a retired couple, and a small provider who all attended a public meeting in Burnet about what it will take to better connect all Texans.Related Links: Broadband Development Office - Why it’s important for Texan residents, business owners, and others to attend a BDO public meetingVIDEO: Why Texas was allocated more federal broadband money than any other state
13:39 8/7/23
Low latency is the new currency and DE-CIX wants to make sure rural America is rich with it
On this episode of Connected Nation, we talk one-on-one with the Chairman & CEO of the DE-CIX group - the world’s leading operator of Internet Exchanges. Learn how DE-CIX navigates operations across multiple continents, find out what “interconnection ecosystems” are and why they’re important, and explore the new partnership that’s focused on connecting rural communities across the US.  Related links:DE-CIX - Ventures - Connected Nations IXPs - Interconnection Academy - find details here 
44:20 7/25/23
The customer and the co-op: Hear from both sides about why and how to better connect rural America
On this episode of Connected Nation, we head into America’s Heartland once more as the “Let’s Get Digital: Oklahoma Broadband Tour” makes its final stops.  This time we sit down with a resident of Okmulgee, Oklahoma AND the local provider he came to see. Hear from both sides— the customer and the co-op— about what small towns really need when it comes to broadband access and how rural America can finally get better internet  service.  Related link:Oklahoma Broadband Office website -
11:05 6/26/23
Internet for All: How groups are working together in Oklahoma to accelerate broadband expansion
On this episode of Connected Nation, we talk with two ISPs that provide broadband to a myriad of western states AND with a nonprofit looking for partners to help “accelerate” how quickly people without high-speed internet get it. Learn why these three organizations – two of them competitors – came together in Tulsa for an Internet for All event hosted by the Oklahoma Broadband Office. Related Links: Oklahoma Broadband Office website - “Let’s Get Digital: Oklahoma Broadband Tour” -
13:14 6/1/23
The chicken or the egg: A workforce conundrum for America's broadband infrastructure
On this episode of Connected Nation, we focus on a critical need within the  workforce – having more trained workers who can help expand and maintain America’s broadband infrastructure.   Learn why those who are laser focused on this issue are concerned that the federal rules around grant monies are not keeping up with the need and how they’d like ISPs and workforce development groups to step in and help. 
48:38 5/31/23
In their own words: A new perspective on internet access in America from Tribal Governments
On this espisode of Connected Nation, we get a new perspective on internet access in America – from the point-of-view of Tribal Governments.  A group of Tribal respresentatives share what they’re already doing to connect reservations across Oklahoma AND what support is needed from federal and state governments.   
22:50 5/24/23
"We will deliver!" The promise leadership in the Oklahoma Broadband Office just made
On this episode of Connected Nation,  we check back in with the “Let’s Get Digital: Oklahoma Broadband Tour” as makes it’s way through the largest metropolitan area of the state – Oklahoma City.   This time we talk with a provider about the role of small ISPs in connecting rural America; a member of the Connected Nation team who says this mission is “personal”; and the Executive Director of the Oklahoma Broadband Office who promises, “We will deliver!” Related links:Oklahoma Broadband Office website -“Let’s Get Digital: Oklahoma Broadband Tour” - 
17:26 5/22/23
Let's Get Digital: Why the pulse of America's Heartland depends on internet access
On this episode of Connected Nation, we head into the Heartland for the “Let’s Get Digital: Oklahoma Broadband Tour” – an 18-stop internet listening tour. You’ll  hear from those in far eastern Oklahoma about their unique broadband needs AND find out what state officials with the Oklahoma Broadband Office plan to do with all that feedback. Related links:Oklahoma Broadband Office website -“Let’s Get Digital: Oklahoma Broadband Tour” - 
12:41 5/18/23
In their own words: Teens share how they're helping adults learn digital skills and why it's important
On this episode of Connected Nation, we talk with a group of teenagers who are helping adults in their community learn the digital skills they need to access important resources and opportunities.  Find out how the teens who are part of the Adelante Hispanic Achievers are approaching this work; why it’s become a critical need within immigrant populations;  and how youth in YOUR area can bring the program to the community to both help local adults AND themselves.  Related Links: Adelante Hispanic Achievers website Check out the Teens Teach Tech website Follow the Teens Teach Tech Instagram  Learn more about Teens Teach Tech in 2 minutes 
19:54 5/3/23
Gig City Goes Quantum: preparing for the next wave of education, jobs, business opportunities
On this episode of Connected Nation, we’re talking about what Albert Einstein called “spooky action at a distance” – quantum physics.  Find out which southern city just went “Quantum;"  how the “science of matter” will likely impact jobs, education, and new business opportunities for us all; AND how you can take part in a unique challenge that will have you easily explaining physics to your neighbors and friends. Related links:GigCityGoesQuantum.comPress release on event Qubitekk website - Chattanooga website -
42:25 4/24/23
From Baby Boomers to Gen Z: How teens are using their tech skills to help older adults
On this episode of Conneced Nation, we focus on a new program that’s flipping the script by asking teenagers to TEACH adults in their communities new skills.  It's called Teens Teach Tech.Learn how the program uses technology to empower older adults, how the teens themselves benefit, and what you can do to get youth in your community involved.   Related Links: Learn more on the Teens Teach Tech webpage  Follow Teens Teach Tech on Instagram Additional free programs: Digital Literacy and Learning &  Achievery
32:17 4/6/23
From the vault: Lyft's new CEO on using technology to help others
The big business news this week is that Lyft's co-founders are resigning, and David Risher has been named as the new CEO.   In light of these headlines, we're taking you into the vault of Connected Nation.  In this one-on-one interview, recorded in November 2021, Risher shares details on how he found his way to becoming a  Microsoft Executive and later an Amazon Senior Vice President. Plus, learn why he was moved to start a FREE program that uses technology to help one billion children around the world.   Related links:Worldreader website Worldreader app: bebooksmart.comFollow Worldreader and its founder on Twitter @worldreaders and @davidrisherWRMore about David Risher: Research study referenced in podcast -
24:47 3/30/23
Google, Samsung, META: This organization gets some of the world's largest companies to work together
Google, Samsung, META, Cisco— big names that are all part of the Wireless Broadband Alliance (WBA), which is a global organization that connects people with the latest Wi-Fi initiatives.On this episode of Connected Nation, we talk one-on-one with leader of the WBA to get an industry perspective on everything from connecting rural America to understanding the potential impact of a new Wi-Fi standard—not just in the US but around the world. Related links: website -
31:25 3/13/23
Faster speeds, lower costs: How IXPs can bring world-class internet to smaller cities, rural areas
On this episode of Connected Nation, we focus on the question of how to effectively bring world-class internet access to smaller cities and rural areas across the US.  Learn how a new joint venture leveraging Internet Exchange Points may finally fill critical gaps in the system – that will not only speed up the internet in all corners of the country – but make it more affordable AND equitable.   Related links:IXP site - 125 “target” locations for IXPs -
55:10 3/6/23
On the road with MIHI: Why connecting America's farms, ranches is critical for us all
On this episode of Connected Nation, we wrap-up our look at the Michigan Connected Future Tour—an ambitious 40-stop listening tour focused on  internet access in Michigan. You'll  hear from two people in the ag industry about why internet connectivity on America’s ranches and farms is something every one of us should be concerned about. Related links:MI Connected Future Tour Schedule - High-Speed Internet Office - 1 - On the road with MIHI: 40 stops, thousands of miles, hundreds of opinionsPart 2 - On the road with MIHI: Hear from those who will help shape a statewide internet connectivity planPart 3 - On the road with MIHI: Tackling the question of affordable access for all 
08:44 3/1/23