Okay, good morning everybody it's having technical issues today
There we go. Okay. Well, welcome. Welcome you all this morning. Excuse me. Let's start with as we always try to with your we have anybody new joining us today. John Kelly, glad to see you
and kurt busch, he wants to be here so much. He's on twice. Okay, didn't look like we have anybody new joining us this morning. So let's jump into our agenda. Weird. So let's start with Karen, do you want to kick it off with an update on what's happening with? Excuse me with broadband office?
I certainly well, thanks to you. Um, so we are just continuing to, you know, work on the projects with a BBG, digital equity and the B program. So for the apdg program, we have 18 projects, all the contracts have been executed, except for two that are under an extension. So we expect those to be executed by the end of this month. So then we can start, you know, work on those projects and getting that 100 million dollars out the door. So I think everyone is aware of those projects that were funded, there was 75 million for rural Arizona and 25 million for Maricopa and Pima counties, for last mile projects and some middle mile projects as well.
Information on your website.
Not yet, Steve, where we're looking at revamping the ACA website. There's just so much content for broadband, that the current structure just doesn't lend itself to, you know, put all that information up there. But we're working on that part of it. And hopefully, in the next month or so we'll be able to expand that and put all that information up, we're actually looking at some kind of a dashboard. So you can see progress on all of these projects, which
I think would be really cool. That'd be really great. Yeah.
So for digital equity, the digital equity program manager position was posted. So ACA is accepting applications for that position. Steve, I sent you the link to that. So if you want to share that would be great. Please share it widely. So we're looking to see about getting somebody on board for that position.
And Karen, can you just remind people quickly what that position is, and you don't have to go into like the job description, but this quickly.
So ACA is the is the administrative agency for the digital equity grant planning program, as well as the capacity grant program that's going to be coming, you know, the beginning of next year. And this digital equity program manager is going to be overseeing all the Strategic Initiatives for digital equity at the state level. And, you know, being a project manager for those capacity grants that ACA will eventually award out, but it's really that conduit at the state with all of the local nonprofits, local governments that are doing work in the digital equity arena. So it's a it's a big job, and it's statewide. The statewide effort. Thank you. So it's like that is posted. I don't believe there is a closing date on and I think they're just going to accept applications until you know, they, they feel like they have a good pool of candidates. So the digital equity plan is currently under development. We met yesterday with our contractor dei and had a good discussion about you know, the plan itself and the goals and objectives and some of the, the direction of the strategy due for the state, the we're still on track to release for public comments on October 16. There'll be a 30 day public comment. And we will post that draft report on the ACA website. And we're looking at other modes of communication and outreach to get that report out to our covered populations. And, you know, folks that may not necessarily have the ability to go on a website and, you know, provide public comments. So there's a couple. There's a couple of firms that work with some of the local governments, and they have the ability to excuse me, I'm sorry, there's somebody with loud equipment outside my window. But they have the ability to assist an agency with different modes of have the report to be I'm sorry, can you guys hear that? Yeah, no. It's like literally the I think the neighbor is they've got equipment, and it's really loud. Okay, if you can't hear it, I'll just ignore it. But, so this company will be able to provide hard copies and distribute them to, you know, libraries or different entities, you know, for, you know, public comment and gather that there's like a voice, comments, technology that you can call in, and then just recite your comments, and then they transcribe that and put that into, you know, a document, you know, for ACA to use. So, it's pretty interesting, some of the new technology that's out there, you know, just this with this product, this process, but we really will be looking at our stakeholders to help us distribute this report to get this public comment back. Like I said, it's a 30 day public comment period. So it will close the November, ACA will take all of the comments and, you know, address those and revise the report, you know, as needed. And then the report will be submitted to NTIA sometime mid December, and then it has to go through, you know, a whole review process at NTIA before you know, approval. And then we we really don't have any fingers yet on what that capacity program will look like, come next year, but we're anticipating sometime spring, late spring next year. I know Nicole is on the line too. So she may have a little bit more information. But that's the timeline that we're working on right now. So, Nicole, do you have anything?
Yeah, I'd say it's a Washington DC spring, not an Arizona springs. You know, March April, will suck
it. Yeah. And, you know, we keep hearing that, oh, the state's gonna get 20 million, oh, the state's gonna get 60 million, you know, call, we'll you know, reinforce this. We need to let people know that there is no dollar amount that has been verified for these capacity grants. So if you hear something, it's pure speculation. So you know, don't get too wound up about whatever the dollar amount that you hear that's coming to Arizona until it's official from NTIA. Let's see. I think so I heard a lot of say earlier that the governor is going to sign the proclamation proclamation for digital inclusion week. So that is in the works. As I said, we don't have a digital equity manager. So we're going to try to do a little bit of, you know, outreach and social media, but we're going to be limited to, you know, the extent of what we can do, you know, that week, but I'm here to support, you know, our stakeholders on that. Um, anybody have any questions about digital equity before I go to bead?
No, I don't. Anyway, anybody else?
So, the beef program. I reported last week that the five year action plan is up on the ACA website. It's open for feedback. That particular report did not require public comment, but we do have an option on the website for feedback on that report. We have shifted now to what we call the initial proposal which is made up of two volumes. Volume One is the essentially the challenge process. And Volume Two is the remainder of the initial proposal, which includes a sub recipients selection process. That report is due December 27, it does have a public comment period, our goal is to have a draft available for public comment probably the first part of November. And again, that is due December 27. So what lot of work, it goes into, you know, those two volumes. So we're working on that. Send deepest scheduling, county outreach meetings, if our digital equity manager is on board, that person will probably attend with him as well. So the goal is to get out there across the state and, you know, sit down one on one with the local governments and, you know, the stakeholders in the community and answer any questions and, you know, just be available for them as we go through these planning efforts.
Okay, um, as part of the B program, ACA is hired, tribal liaison, Candice Hamana, I'm going to try to get her on one of these calls Steve, and just give you or give ACSM just kind of an overview of what she's been doing, what she's what she's working on. But she is she's one person, a powerhouse, she's already met with, I think 15 tribes, and she's scheduled to meet with several more next week. So you know, her charges to go out and, you know, talk with the tribes and work with them, find out what their needs are, find out how we can, you know, help with, you know, their digital equity as well as infrastructure programs and incorporate those needs into our planning. And
then, let's see, oh, and then the last thing I had to update was, we were originally planning an internet for all events, at the end of October, we've pushed that back to January, there was some conflict on some folks being able to attend, including the governor. But we just felt that with all of the planning, due dates coming up here in October, November, that it was just best to focus on, you know, the deliverables for these reports. And we're gonna push that event back till January. And I think that is about it for my update. So happy to answer any questions.
So, Karen, I'd like to go offline. And we don't take the time today. But I know we've talked about trying to schedule a time to for this group to have a separate meeting, not from our Monday meeting, but a separate meeting to have some discussion about both the beat and the digital equity plans. Talk about how we can best do that.
Sure, no problem. Yeah. Like I said there. The digital equity plan. The goal is to release that for public comment October 16. And so you know, maybe that's something that AZ BSN wants to have a workgroup and you know, review and provide comments. You know, the bead volume on for the challenge process that? I think, yeah, AZ BSN could probably have a working group, a separate working group for that one as well. That will be a little bit later a couple of weeks after the digital equity plan is released. Okay.
Sounds good. Any questions for Karen? Hey, Karen, this is
Karen, this is John. Just a quick question for you. Hey, good morning. Nice to be back. I like the eight o'clock time. By the way, Steve. Thank you, John. I was thinking well, it's all about me, Steve. Some of us were down at the League of Cities conference last week, down in Tucson. Nicole, you and I were there at the broadband session, which was at a nice time of the afternoon. The digital equity meeting was at 8am in the morning, did not get well attended. I would say the takeaways that I heard from the cities, or at least from the panel that was brought to the cities about some of the barriers to make sure this whole program is successful related to city's ability to manage the permit requirements associated with some of the infrastructure element, as well as just the labor force associated with, you know, fiber, fixed wireless and things like that. So I thought those were interesting and good takeaways, I don't know, how the cities are going to deal with that, particularly the smaller cities, do you have any thoughts about that, or maybe that's another convening conversation we should be having?
You know, that is a really good point. And that is something that we've heard loud and clear from, you know, the local governments is the concern about the permitting, you know, process, you know, and with all fairness from the ISPs, as well as, you know, their ability to get, you know, these permits through and all of, you know, the, they're all going to be coming at these local governments all at the same time. So there are some discussions, you know, happening on, you know, different strategies on how to address that. We have a meeting this afternoon, with CSA, and, you know, ongoing discussions with the league. So I believe some of those comments are coming in as feedback on that five year plan, because we did address that as an obstacle or barrier. So any ideas on that, please, you know, bring that forward to ACA. So we can, you know, just gather that information and try to strategize on you know, the best approach for that.
Thank you, Karen. And, John, did you have more?
Oh, I'll just, I'll just add that, in the, you know, there's a chance to provide comments on that in the five year action plan that ACA has posted. But it's also a, a required section of what's called Volume Two of the initial proposal. So that's where the state has to account for cost and barrier reduction. So that's where we expect to see solutions and, you know, representations of from local governments around permitting, especially. So there'll be chances to provide input to help the state in drafting as well as to comment once that draft is out for public review.
So So, Karen, you as you know, that the states that when I say the state of Oregon State Government, but local communities have been very successful in creating broadband action teams? Are we doing anything in that space and helping local governments and local communities to develop these broadband action teams and come up with plans as a part of the beat process or not?
So, you know, I know that is something that Sandeep has talked about is really encouraging these local communities to establish these broadband action teams. I'm not sure if that is something that we specifically addressed in the five year action plan. But, again, I think that that is really a grassroots local effort. And if a community is interested in that, I'm sure that Sandeep is, you know, is willing to help or ACA is willing to help, you know, establish that. I also wanted to touch on John's earlier comment about the workforce. Again, that was a barrier, an obstacle that we addressed in the five year plan. And it's also part of the digital equity plan is, you know, how to address the workforce? And, you know, in the, there's two kind of components of that, on the infrastructure side, how do you get qualified workers to come in and build and, you know, do you know, the engineering and all that? And then on the digital equity side, you know, how do we train our workforce, you know, to be able to, you know, provide services in this new environment. So, ACA, I mean, that's kind of their their Cornerstone is workforce development. So we're going to be meeting with OEE Oh, I think is their their acronym. They have a workforce development plan and seeing how we can integrate that into both digital equity and, you know, be programming for workforce development.
So, Karen, the other thing is that some of the conversations we've had in the past is talking about, well, so he's talking about broadband action teams, but really expanding that to broadband and digital equity teams, in creating those teams and local communities. And not just for infrastructure, but digital equity strategy, has already been talking and he talked about that.
Like I said, Steve, I think that is a local initiative. And, you know, this is a small group of people we care You know, our names and faces and variety of different, you know, settings. So I think you're right, you know, a Robin action team will probably consist of both your infrastructure folks and your digital equity folks, you know, just because a lot of these communities are small and don't have a lot of different folks that are involved in that. But again, I would say that this is a local initiative, and certainly the state can, you know, provide guidance and assistance. And I'll actually bring that up today, when we have our call with CSA and see what their thoughts are on, you know, what kind of guidance ACA can provide. Unless, Steve, you have any, you know, ideas of of what the state's role would be in a local broadband action team?
Well, I don't want to take a lot of time to discuss that today, Karen. But it seems to me that, you know, the previous discussions and even in the plan that we had developed a couple of, you know, a long time ago, is the need to be able to provide assistance to those folks, technical assistance, as well as facilitator technical assistance, and helping them to find this, as the, as you discussed earlier, the staffing to be able to do that, either through consultants, or their existing, excuse me, their existing staff. And so to me, at least, I think, then the discussions we've had in the past that, that those are important, related to that. And this was also part of the discussion we had, when we develop the plan was that the Arizona Economic Recovery Center does provide that kind of support a man I don't know how big their capacity is. But I know they've also been meeting with local governments, not just specifically about broadband, but they do have consultants on staff, and they also pay for consultants specific, and they can't do that, specifically for broadband. So I think that that's is something that we should really explore, because in my opinion, that that's going to be a big barrier to people applying for funding is that they don't have the staff to do the plans. We can talk more about that offline, Karen. But those are just some of the things that come to mind for me.
Now, that's That's great. Steve, I've got a couple notes here. And and I say this, the Economic Recovery Center is part of local first.
Yes, yeah. And we've met with them, and they've actually presented to ACBS and a couple of times, and, you know, the conversations I've had with them, you know, again, I don't know how huge capacity is. But they keep saying they want to help with this in some way, shape, or form. So I think that certainly for for ACA, too, and I'm sure that you guys have had have been in touch with them, but specifically about broadband and how they can help is particularly important right now.
No, great point, Steve, is that I've made a couple of notes and I will follow up.
Again, I carry on, I guess related to that, is, again, when we did our report that we have talked about that there's other funding sources besides government. And again, that's where where they can also be of help is to identify what other sources of funds are out there, and how can they take advantage of those, again, to help with their planning and implementation. And I think that's really important, because again, as we talked about, and certainly government plays a really important role in infrastructure development, but certainly for digital equity and other kinds of things that there are foundations and private companies and all who provide funding, and we need to help them. You know, I've been trying to include, and I know Andy has done a great job of sending me information about different funding sources, and I tried to include those in our newsletter. But I do think that's important. And again, I think that's something that the economic recovery center can help with.
So I'm done. Anybody else have anything else that they want to comment on? Hello, are you there? Okay. All righty. Thank you, Karen. Great job. Thank you, Steve. Yeah. And so Nicole, you have anything else that you want to share that you haven't already?
Sure. Yeah. I'm really glad Karen's on board to do kind of help with the status updates and overviews. I think as you're you're just suggesting about this group, maybe having some sort of working group around the initial proposal, I'd like to just make myself available for like an initial proposal, one on one session for that group. So you can, you know, it's, I have a lot of very text heavy slides about all of the requirements that are involved. So that can give this group a little bit of a baseline as you start to dig into those drafts. So let's figure out what how to schedule that.
Yeah. Well, I'll talk with you and Karen about how do we best make that happen?
Perfect. I think just the other thing that I would add is that a couple of weeks ago, Governor Katie House announced a inter agency and community broadband Advisory Council, which is comprised of state agency leadership and their designees. That first convenient is going to be this Monday, September 11. So I think we'll we'll be able to share some readouts and summaries of those discussions, as well as the ensuing working groups from from that broader council. So this is really exciting. As as you know, Arizona didn't have a Advisory Council of this type before. So we're happy to see that it's, it's a priority and to see how, you know, MIT, perhaps it's a bit of a government solution, not quite a community solution. But you know, some good discussions will be coming out from a lot of different perspectives around the state.
Nicole, Mark Goldstein, a simple correction, though, I would say that we did have something similar.
Back in the, during the planning Yes,
into 2011. No, during 2011 to 2013, there was a governor's digital Arizona Council of public and private members, and they had a draft strategic plan in 2013, which succeeded Karen's work on our 2018 later strategic plan. So we have that that one's before, but glad to see it, come back.
And that's why we're so grateful to have the historians still reminder us of where we've been. And that's, you know, it's, it's really, it's really exciting to kind of see all of the all of this work over the all the years kind of come to fruition now. So
that was probably one of three or four councils that were created over time. Spent a lot of time working on him, and then they disappeared.
All it took was a billion dollars to you know, really
funny, funny thing about that.
Yes, sorry for that omission. Mark. I was I was under the impression it was formed for the purpose of the strategic planning and then it wasn't sustained. So sure.
No, no. And one more, Steve, thanks, Steve. Since we aren't digital equity, I don't have any more information about it. But I did post, the digital equity Institute and shaping edu we'll have a virtual Arizona Digital Inclusion celebration summit on October 3. And that's the kickoff Digital Inclusion week. So free registration and the details and registration are at the link I embedded in the chat.
Karen, do you have any time later this morning this afternoon? For us to chat for a little bit.
Steve and I have this afternoon is pretty busy. I could probably do something. You know, like probably 10 3011. If that works for you. That
would work for me.
Okay, do you want to just give me a call?
I will. Okay, thank you. Okay. Anything else? With for Karen? Or Nicole?
Just a question for Nicole or anyone else broadly, or the the panel which you spoke? Are their meetings, public or not public.
So they are appointed members of the council by the governor's office. Those quarterly meetings are not public, but they'll be establishing working groups on a handful of topics around broadband deployment and digital equity in which those appointees and we're talking like the director levels of of state agencies will name designees for those monthly Working Group IPs. And I understand that they, you know, as those get formalized that they intend to open those working groups up. So we'll have to stay tuned about invitations to, to the public for those. So to summarize quarterly meetings with the appointees, and then monthly working group meetings forthcoming.
And recall anything else? Okay, so just moving on quickly. So you all know that we are working on developing the cybersecurity Task Force, it's been a little bit of a challenge to have our three leaders, that group and trying to schedule them has been a real challenge. But we are working on trying to figure out where we're going, I have about a dozen people. And I'll be glad to share that to start with. And it's not intended, we have not that group has not met yet. But the intent is that we want to kind of map out where we might be going, and then open it up to anybody who wishes to participate. But we know that this has become a particularly important issue, and keeps popping up everywhere, about the importance of cybersecurity. So I don't know, JT, if you want to say anything more at this point about that.
Steve? Yeah, I don't have any further comment. Okay.
So we do, hopefully, hopefully, get those folks together. And and move this process along. Yes, go ahead.
This is Marla, I like to share with the group, you know, I attended the New Hampshire's cybersecurity webinar, where they were talking about how different groups came together and did in and worked on cybersecurity. And they were, the whole aim of this was the use of federal funds that they had received, including the Cares Act money and everything else that they they had received to shore up their cybersecurity in the state. They also talked about, you know, doing something to doing some planning, work using the bead money and the digital equity money. They, they talked about, especially capacity building. And, and using folks like 211, FCC s 211 Help Desk, which receives a lot of calls, you know, help having them be aware of, you know, what, training materials that are available, free of cost, what other resources are available around the state, linking them linking to, and one, two things like our Arizona Connect, you know, you know, making sure that they have the resources at their fingertips. So again, that, that, that really helps us think about trying to contact the 211 helpdesk folks and see who's in charge, who, whether they can send someone to our meeting so that they are aware of the resources that exist, and how they can help people stay safe. You know, they talked about the number of queries that their helpdesk receives about, oops, I, I clicked on something, and I don't know what's going on. You know, you wouldn't think that these 211 would get those kinds of calls, but they talked about a lot of those calls being about someone clicking on some fishing, you know, emails and things like that. They they talked about trying to get those people, the people at 211 Aware of talking to people about weak passwords, about multi factor authentication, and we would normally don't associate those kinds of things with a 211 helpdesk but that is an important thing that we need to think about. And there are training materials already available free of cost at skills common and I'll put those links in the in the chat once I'm done talking firstname.lastname@example.org They also have something called cast ca st.org. And all those trainings are available free of cost. We just need to make to one one aware of it so that they take it as well as Let people who ended up with those cyber threats to take those calls. So they, I think that was kind of a summarization of that, more than two hours of that webinar. But again, it just specifies the importance of doing it and doing it soon. So I am as guilty as the rest of us about not having the time to focus on it. But certainly, let's get our team together, Steve, and work on these aspects, though some of them are very simple to do, just make sure that we know how to do it. That's all. And we
somehow I just today saw that information about that webinar. And unfortunately, it's already passed. Do you know if they're planning to record that?
Yes, they are, they are. And I can pass it according on to you, I already have it. I can pass the recording on to you for you to distribute.
Okay. And also, we should probably contact the leadership of that group. I thought it was very interesting. They've done a lot of work that we definitely want to share with our team as we get going here.
Okay. Anything else about that?
No, unless anyone had any questions.
Okay. So I want to move on and talk a little bit about advocacy and creating an advocacy team for this group. There are many, many of you know, there are a lot of issues that are happening right now with ACP, and, and so forth. And we really have not done a good job about being an advocate and, and really helping our folks to reply to that to a lot of those issues that are going on. Excuse me. And so, for me, there was one thing in particular, that then I thought was, was a particular interest. But before I get to that, that we just talked about, the neat the course the digital, the beaten digital equity plans that are being developed. And we definitely want to review those and provide our feedback and input about that. And then, so there's a couple of other things that are, that are important. One is the Universal Service Fund. And I know Bala has probably talked about that significantly, but I ran across an article and like, probably many of you, I really didn't understand the significance of what was happening with a Universal Service Fund. But there actually are some people in Congress who are trying to kill that fund, and make it go away, that they're saying that there's already enough broadband funding going on, and that we don't need Universal Service Fund. And many of you probably all know that the Universal Service Fund is one of the primary funders for E Rate. And so this really has become, at least in my opinion, even more important, and I really didn't understand the significance of what was happening at this point. And so those are just a couple of things. We know ACP is still a threat and whether or not that will survive. And so we really need to step up our game about how do we communicate? How do we