Skip to content Skip to navigation

Rural Broadband in the West: Missed Connections

Image of communication dish and tower
August 13, 2020

Two decades into the 21st century, in the midst of a pandemic that has forced people to work and go to school remotely, broadband connections fail to reach millions of Americans. Communities in many areas are struggling with this handicap, especially in the rural West.  Our panel will examine what we know and don’t know about the severity of the problem and what it will take to fix it. We also discuss the technological, financial, and legal barriers that impede the widespread availability of broadband, despite its essential role in education and telemedicine. Underlying everything is one basic question: does the country have the will and the resources to ensure everyone is connected?  How do we get there? 


Martha Guzman Aceves, member, California Public Utility Commission.  Broadband access and equity are the major focus for Commissioner Martha Guzman Aceves. Governor Jerry Brown appointed her to the CPUC in 2016 after she amassed 20 years of policy experience at the United Farm Workers, the California Rural Legal Assistance Foundation and as deputy legislative affairs secretary for Gov. Brown.  She has a Bachelor of Science from Georgetown University and a Master of Science from the University of California at Davis.  

Geoffrey C. Blackwell, a member of the Creek nation, is the Chief Strategy Officer and General Counsel at AMERIND, the only 100% Tribally owned provider of insurance solutions in Indian Country.  Almost all of the $14 billion worth of buildings and physical infrastructure it manages are on the wrong side of the digital divide.  Before joining AMERIND, Mr. Blackwell served as the founding Chief of the Federal Communications Commission's Office of Native Affairs and Policy. 

Edyael Casaperalta is Project Manager at AMERIND Critical Infrastructure, which helps Tribal Nations develop and deploy broadband internet. Edyael brings extensive experience as a telecommunications and rural broadband policy analyst, and before joining AMERIND, she founded a Denver law firm focused on advancing broadband opportunities for rural and underrepresented communities. 


Felicity Barringer Taubman, Bill Lane Center Writer-in-Residence