NATOA Conference Report

by Bob Duthaler, President, JAG

Recently I had the opportunity again to represent JAG at the National Association of Telecommunications Officers and Advisors’ (NATOA) 2021 Annual Conference, albeit virtually, both as an attendee and as the NJ Chapter President of NATOA.  NATOA’s national conference offers a comprehensive professional development learning experience and an exclusive opportunity to interact with and learn from leaders in the field and colleagues across the country.

The conference offers three days of educational sessions on a variety of topics, interactive roundtables, exclusive speakers, and networking opportunities with experts from all facets of telecommunications sharing case studies, solutions and proven strategies to enhance the operation for our community and the experience of our residents. I was interacting with and observing the best and the brightest industry leaders, while exploring new partners to help JAG and our cause along with cementing relationships with those on the frontline in the battle to preserve PEG Access.  I am happy to report out, there are many great minds working collectively to preserve PEG, bring it in to the future and keep its future alive and robust.


NATOA’s Conference is a premiere educational event for local government telecommunications professionals working on communications, multimedia, programming, wireless, broadband, franchising and siting issues in today’s ever-changing landscape.  The conference is attended by over 400 local government professionals from across the country, there to learn the latest on emerging issues and cutting-edge technology.  It’s NATOA’s unique combination of lawyers, administrators and video production personnel that gives the group a well-rounded perspective on PEG television, broadband and wireless technology.  It is also JAG’s frontline of protection and legislation watchdog on a national level.


Experts from all facets of telecommunications were on hand sharing case studies, solutions and proven strategies to enhance our industry, profession and to help the communities we serve. I was afforded practical insights on the latest trends while participating in interactive panel discussions, peer networking and more.  This even afforded JAG the opportunity to bring aboard speakers to JAG sponsored events and even our conference as well.  In addition, I was able to share with them, everything that JAG does as an organization in New Jersey, what they have done for us with local leaders, BPU and state legislators.  By sharing this with NATOA leaders and members, it allows them to know what we are up against and affords them to help find ways to support us as well.  This two-way street is important for the survival or both our organizations.


The power and prestige of NATOA brought about a wide array of engaging keynote speakers, virtual tech demos from various vendors, round table discussions and networking opportunities that make events like this a powerful conference.  With the national pandemic still on the minds of all, the event gave me a unique opportunity to discuss with a wide audience across the country how this impacted their operations, what they have learned and how the pandemic has affected their future plans.

All these elements plus the conversations I had with NATOA Board Members and staff will bring about some great enhancements for JAG now and over the course of the upcoming new year.  Some items I will be working on include continued and new informational sources to keep us current on national legislation, and the ability for JAG to continue to host and run our own Webinars year along with the ability to get well qualified panelists outside of our circle to give us clear and precise information on various topics.  If you are interested in learning more, I look forward to sharing further my experience with you.  Please feel free to reach out to me to discuss further.

QUALITY. CREATIVITY. CONTENT. One of the last things I would like to leave you with is NATOA’s annual video awards contest and show.  It is a great opportunity to look at work done around the country from various local governments, cities, and county organizations.  There is a wide range of budgets for the organizations, and each are reflected in the various categories in the competition.  I can safely say however, that most of these entities have larger budgets then most JAG member stations.  What I took away from that is not the amount of money spent, but the creative juices flowing in each organization, not unlike those at JAG.  I will leave you with this link to the winners of this year’s event, that contains links to each of their entered video projects (downloadable document):