Meet one of the advocates who helped push U.S. law toward fiber
Stan Fendley sees broadband access as an “equity issue” and pushed fiber into American policy. As he retires, he’s seeing the fruits of his labor.
In too many areas of the United States, internet access isn’t a given. Luckily, people in rural America have one of their own fighting for internet access in Washington, D.C.
Stan Fendley grew up on a farm outside Hot Springs, Arkansas. He’s now Corning’s government affairs director, and he’s fought for 22 years to fit broadband access in United States federal policy. He, like others at the company, believes broadband is a human right.
“It is an equity issue,” says Stan. “If you have internet access, you don’t think about it. It’s like turning on a water tap or flipping on a light switch. It’s just there all the time. If you don’t have it, you know it. And you’re at a distinct disadvantage.”
Without reliable internet, people can struggle to find education, telemedicine, and banking. Businesses can’t operate competitively. Marginalized people can’t seek online community or rally for social causes. Broadband access levels the playing field for people in rural and underserved areas like his home community, says Stan.
In November, the U.S. government enacted a law that will bolster the country’s infrastructure, helping rebuild roads, expand access to clean drinking water, and enable high-speed internet. The plan also supports the deployment of fiber over other services like wireless and satellite. It’s the pinnacle of years of work from fiber advocates like Stan and his industry partners at Corning Optical Communications and the Fiber Broadband Association.
“Why has the policy gone toward fiber? Because elected officials are tired of hearing their constituents complain about their poor broadband service – particularly what’s been paid for by the government,” Stan says.
The U.S. federal government has funded broadband before, but never to this degree. With $65 billion in funding from the infrastructure law, Stan looks forward to the day every American home has network access, and he believes Corning will play a significant role in making that happen.
“We’re completely confident in our ability to do that,” Stan says about Corning supplying fiber. “That’s a no-brainer. Corning will meet that challenge – we’re the best in the world at what we do.”
Stan will retire in August, but he’ll continue to teach government lobbying at the George Washington University Law School. He’ll also travel and spend time outdoors.
From the sidelines, he’ll watch as the plan he so carefully wound for fiber unrolls. The Fiber Broadband Association acknowledged his work with the Photon Award, which he accepted in June.
“For two decades, Corning Government Affairs and COC have been working on policies to spur replacement of America’s legacy copper with optical fiber. To be the face of that effort by getting this award, it’s really an honor. But also, it’s really humbling because I wasn’t the only person in this policy push. It’s me receiving the award on behalf of all the people who have worked hard on this over several years. I’m very proud.”