Note: The Skinny blog is written by Rick Smith, editor and co-founder of WRAL Tech Wire and business editor of

RESEARCH TRIANGLE PARK, N.C. – “Broadband for all” will be the recurring theme over the next three days in Raleigh as hundreds of Internet, telecommunications and government officials gather for the “Rural TeleCon” conference at the Raleigh Sheraton hotel.

Put on in part by e-NC, the group tasked by the General Assembly with the job of spreading broadband across North Carolina, the TeleCon conference will features speakers and panel discussions about what has worked and what hasn’t in programs designed to make high-speed net access available to areas outside metropolitan centers.

“This is going to be a great, great program,” said Jane Patterson, head of e-NC and a pioneer in broadband efforts not only in her home state but for the country.

North Carolina serving as host is appropriate, given the efforts of people such as Patterson and executives at MCNC over the past two decades to take high-speed Internet beyond the Triangle, Charlotte and other urban centers and universities.

MCNC under Chief Executive Officer Joe Freddoso and with the support of the economic development group Golden LEAF as well as the federal government is greatly expanding the reach of the North Carolina Research and Education Network. By 2014, broadband from Manteo to Murphy, Outer Banks to Grandfather Mountain, will be a reality.

UNC-NCSU’s DeSimone To Talk Innovation

Among the conference highlights will be a presentation from someone not known for Internet but certainly recognized as an innovator and inventor.

Joe DeSimone, Chancellor’s Eminent Professor of Chemistry at UNC-Chapel Hill and William R. Kenan Jr. Professor of Chemical Engineering at NCSU, will talk about innovation and technology in a keynote on Tuesday morning. DeSimone has launched several companies and is a pioneer in nanotechnology as well as chemistry,

Cynthia Marshall, president of AT&T in North Carolina, will moderate a panel discussion about how to spread broadband access following DeSimone’s presentation.

What should be a very interesting presentation is set for Wednesday when Mark Wells, executive director, of the Rockingham County Business and Technology Center, talks about “Shifting a Community’s Focus to Tech-based Economic Development.”

Broadband access without economic development leaves members of a community with onramps to the information highway, as the old cliché goes, but no off ramps to a better future.

For more about the conference, read here.

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