Q&A with Jessica Denson, Head of brand strategists for Connected Nation

We sat down with with Jessica Denson, Head of brand strategists for Connected Nation, to discuss the need for connectivity, the effects of Covid-19 on the improvement of broadband infrastructure and Connected Nation’s upcoming free live event marking 20 years of service.

  1. Describe what your company does in 256 characters

Connected Nation’s mission is to improve lives by providing innovative solutions that expand the access, adoption, and use of broadband and its related technologies to ALL people. Everyone belongs in a Connected Nation.

  1. How did you get involved in this industry?

Connected Nation is celebrating 20 years of service in 2021. It was founded at Western Kentucky University in Bowling Green, Kentucky, to promote technological expansion across the state.

  1. What made you think of the idea/what inspired you to create your technology?

It was born in Kentucky out of an initiative to help every child, business owner, and citizen improve their lives. At the time, state leaders picked a focus that could impact all areas—expanding internet access.  It was a very inclusive mission.

  1. How is this going to benefit people/society?

It impacts everything from teleworking to remote learning to telehealth and social isolation because who lacks broadband the most? 42 million Americans; 43% of low-income families; 14.5% of rural residents; and 16.9 million school-aged children.

  1. What’s innovative about your company and technology?

Connected Nation tackles the need for better access in a collaborative way. We develop and provide the tools, resources, and methods that help states and communities create and implement solutions to their broadband and digital technology gaps.

We assess and plan for the expansion of broadband access, adoption, and use. We empower people with technology skills and resources to improve their quality of life, and we develop public-private partnerships to bring technology access to targeted geographies and population.

  1. How, in your opinion, has your industry changed in the past 5 years?

The need for access continues to grow, and this was particularly demonstrated by the pandemic. However, there is a shortage in everything from equipment to trained technicians to work at the pace currently needed. In addition, many areas of the country don’t have basic access, but there’s a massive rush for 5G and other emerging technologies, so there’s a need to create infrastructure that is scalable over the coming years.

  1. What has COVID done to your company/industry? Has it been affected? Does your solution assist with the pandemic?

The pandemic created more understanding that was previously not there. As a result, lawmakers are setting aside an unprecedented amount of money for broadband-related work—more than $370 billion at just the federal level and that’s expected to continue to grow.  Our Technology Action Plans, data-driven solutions for school connectivity, better mapping of current broadband coverage, telework training, and job placement assistance program provides a path for communities needing to improve their access, adoption, and use of broadband and its related technologies.

  1. Describe the future of your industry. What does the future hold? What is society going to look like?

We’re hopeful that this current funding stream will be used wisely and invested in areas that need infrastructure the most so that we see scalable networks that can adapt to emerging technologies such as 5G and more.

  1. What plans do you have coming up?

Connected Nation (CN) is marking 20 years of service in 2021 and this unprecedented time in our nation’s history by hosting a one-of-a-kind, live event that will air nationally from three US cities on Wednesday, November 17 from 11am to 3pm (eastern). Registration for the live event is free at cn20.org.

  1. What would your advice be for people trying to get into your industry?

Do your research. Understand why it’s critical to connect more people and communities—and learn how you can be part of the solution.

Jessica Denson is responsible for overall brand strategy at Connected Nation, which includes building program recognition through digital communications, media relations, and marketing opportunities.