Get ready for Fiber Connect 2024

June 24, 2024
This year’s conference will explore the future of fiber. 

The Fiber Broadband Association’s Fiber Connect 2024 conference is fast approaching. It will run from July 28 to July 31 in Nashville, Tennessee, and this year’s theme is “Accelerating Our Fiber Future.”

“We have unprecedented amounts of government funding, both on the federal and state levels,” said Evann Freeman, chairman of the 2024 Conference Committee and vice president of government and community relations at EPB. “Those are tremendous opportunities. So really, with this conference, we’re taking the approach of ‘what are some of the things we’re going to be able to do with fiber by 2030?’”

Freeman said there will be a focus on middle-mile networks, opportunities with AI and fiber, opportunities for quantum, and more.

“The thing I get so excited about for Fiber Connect,” said Rich Williams, conference program director and president of Connect2 Communications, “is the conversations that happen at the regionals and at the event that are outside the program. Just being in the room and hearing people who haven’t met before talk about getting together after the conference to see what they can do together. I’ve seen that at the federal level, I’ve seen it with operators and with vendors. It’s just really a special event that allows the community to come together and look at how they can take fiber forward.”

Programming 

Freeman and Williams discussed the conference programming during a Fiber for Breakfast chat with FBA president and CEO Gary Bolton. Sunday will feature two FBA-curated pre-conference workshops, the first of which is the FBA Fiber Starter Toolkit.

“The Fiber Starter Toolkit is really designed for people who are just getting into the fiber business,” said Williams. “We’re bringing in some of our member experts to help explain how to market a service for the first time, how to handle grant applications, etc.”

The second pre-conference workshop will focus on community broadband.

“We’ve seen the rise of utilities and co-ops play a pivotal role in some of these smaller communities,” said Williams, “so we’ve created a program to let them talk through what they’re finding: the challenges and opportunities that they have as they look to connect their communities.”

Sunday will also feature a selection of sponsored pre-conference workshops.

“One of the things we are very careful about with the Fiber Connect programming is that it’s non-commercial in nature,” said Williams. “We’re really focusing on the topics and trends and issues that our industry faces as opposed to other conferences you might attend where people get up and talk about their products. But that is an important thing for companies to do, and so we’ve created those slots in the pre-conference workshops to allow them to do that.”

Williams also reported that the popular Operator Light Talks will be returning to this year’s conference.

“These are Ted Talk-style talks, 18 minutes in length, and really give an opportunity for our operator members to show and talk about how they’re having an impact on their communities,” said Williams. “These are narrative in style, and we’re really excited this year to have five amazing light talks.”

This year’s Light Talk speakers are:

  • Robert Bridgham, executive director, Eastern Shore of Virginia Broadband Authority
  • Kimberly McKinley, chief marketing officer, Utopia Fiber
  • Robert Griffin, tribal broadband director, Choctaw Nation of Oklahoma
  • Eric Lia, senior vice president of engineering, Verizon
  • Brian Bond, chief technology officer, Brightspeed

Monday and Tuesday will feature breakout sessions and general session panels, including:

  • Innovation and Disruption: Where Fiber Goes Next
  • Applying AI to Network Operations: Strategies to Optimize Network Functions and Growth
  • Changing the Value Creation Paradigm: Moving Forward Once the Digital Equity Gap is Closed
  • Middle Mile Networks: Defining the Road Ahead

Monday will also feature an award session showcasing award winners and the people and organizations that contribute to FBA and the industry. Among the awards given will be Lightwave’s FTTxcellence Award.

The C-Suite Forum is also scheduled for Monday.

“The C-suite Forum is an opportunity for the CEOs and C-suite folks to have content in the conference that’s geared more towards them,” said Freeman. “With the conference, the goal is to have something for everybody.”

Specialty programming will be featured on Tuesday afternoon and will include the Broadband Policy Symposium and the Overbuilder Toolkit.

“The Overbuilder Toolkit is new this year,” said Williams. “We have a growing part of our membership that are overbuilders: they’re coming to markets and building and competing against incumbents, so we’ve got a special program created for them.”

The finale on Wednesday is the State Broadband Summit. It will feature keynote speakers Andy Berke, administrator of rural utility services for the U.S. Department of Agriculture, and Manisha Patel, deputy director at the Permitting Council. The summit will also feature a state broadband officer roundtable, federal policy discussions, a tribal broadband fireside chat, and a discussion on deployment challenges and opportunities for last mile connectivity.

“Our goal when we started to create this program,” said Williams, “was to create something for everyone within our industry, whether you’re at an operator, whether you’re at a vendor, whether you’re in a function like marketing or policy or finance, just really the entire ecosystem. Whether you’re just new to the industry or you’re a CEO, there is something for everyone at Fiber Connect.”

Register now!

For related articles, visit the Broadband Topic Center.

For more information on high-speed transmission systems and suppliers, visit the Lightwave Buyer’s Guide.

To stay abreast of fiber network deployments, subscribe to Lightwave’s Service Providers and Datacom/Data Center newsletters.

About the Author

Hayden Beeson

Hayden Beeson is a writer and editor with over seven years of experience in a variety of industries. Prior to joining Lightwave and Broadband Technology Report, he was the associate editor of Architectural SSL and LEDs Magazine. 

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