Oconee County resident Steven Strickland was recently appointed to the Federal Communications Commission’s Precision Ag Connectivity Task Force, which addresses connectivity demand and broadband access in under-served farmland areas.
FCC chairman Ajit Pai appointed Strickland and the other task force members on March 13, in conjunction with initiatives from Secretary of Agriculture Sonny Perdue and the Agriculture Improvement Act of 2018. Members represent industries such as engineering, farming, education and others.
Strickland is the executive director of eastern U.S. sales for ExteNet, a national provider of converged communications infrastructure and advanced network connectivity.
Strickland received written support from public figures, including U.S. Rep. Jody Hice and Georgia Public Service Commissioner Tim Echols. He was selected from over 300 nominees.
“I cannot comment on the FCC’s evaluation criteria, but I’m confident my passion and experience in wireless, broadband and edge technologies were considered against the FCC’s goals and objectives on this national initiative,” Strickland said.
Strickland is serving within the connectivity subgroup of the taskforce, along with 14 other people.
He also acknowledged that he lives in a rural region of the state where farming is an economic driver but where inconsistent broadband accessibility presents a range of agricultural, educational and healthcare challenges.
“I hope to aggregate the voices of our farmers, ranchers and others living in our county while bringing my industry perspective to this national initiative,” Strickland said. “If anyone in our community has thoughts or ideas, then I’m willing to listen and learn.”
He explained that the task force overall will help address policy issues like the future of the American food supply, population growth and any economic shifts, all of which are relevant during the COVID-19 pandemic.
“We need deep communications infrastructure and precision ag capable of supporting real-time decisions to achieve this [goal],” he said.