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Rural Telecom, established in 1981, is the quarterly magazine
published by NTCA–The Rural Broadband Association, a
nonprofit, cooperative corporation formed in 1954 under the
laws of the District of Columbia.
NTCA’s Mission: NTCA–The Rural Broadband Association
works on behalf of small broadband providers who are working
on behalf of rural America.
NTCA represents more than 800 small, rural, locally owned and
operated broadband companies in the United States and
abroad, as well as state and regional telephone associations
and companies that are the suppliers of products and services
to the small and rural broadband industry. Our readers are the
managers, directors, attorneys and key employees of these
broadband companies as well as consultants, government
officials and telecommunications experts.
NTCA Board of Directors, General Counsel
and Chief Executive Officer
President: John Klatt
Vice President: Kevin Beyer
Secretary/Treasurer: Allen R. Hoopes
Central Region Commercial: Doug Boone
Cooperative: Ron Hinds
North Central Region Commercial: John Klatt
Cooperative: Kevin Beyer
Northeast Region Commercial: Mike Grisham
Cooperative: Barry Adair
Northwest Region Commercial: Allen R. Hoopes
Cooperative: Don Bitz
Southeast Region Commercial: H. Keith Oliver
Cooperative: J. Frederick Johnson
Southwest Region Commercial: Russell Moore
Cooperative: William P. Hegmann
General Counsel: Don Richards
Chief Executive Officer: Shirley Bloomfield
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authors and not necessarily the positions of NTCA, its officers,
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By Christian Hamaker, Editor
As I write this column, it’s early March, and the winds
outside my office window are howling. The month has, as
they say, come in like a lion—and not just because another
Nor’easter is blowing through the region.
Policy changes are on the way. A big Universal Service Fund (USF) order, due
any day now, will distribute $500 million to rural broadband companies, addressing,
in part, longtime shortfalls in the high-cost USF budget. It won’t solve long-term
funding issues for the independent-telecom sector, but it constitutes measurable
Another sign of that progress is an infrastructure package from the Trump
administration, but the details of how that funding will address rural broadband
remain to be seen. We’re watching and waiting for further light to be shed on how
infrastructure funds might make their way to the independent broadband sector.
And then there’s the president’s signing of a rural call-completion bill that
serves notice to least-cost routers that accountability is coming for their failure
to complete calls to rural America.
Along with those policy changes come technology changes at rural broadband
companies. As Joan Engebretson reports on p. 18 (“Broadband Upgrades Meet
Climbing Bandwidth Demand”), rural telcos keep increasing their bandwidth to
meet customer demand and to accommodate the technical requirements of content
providers like Netflix—not to mention bandwidth-thirsty telehealth and distance-learning applications.
Backhaul of wireless traffic—another revenue source for NTCA members—
also is shifting. As Masha Zager reports on p. 24 (“Will Backhaul Go Bust?”), the
cellular industry is undergoing major changes, some of which will affect backhaul revenues for rural broadband providers. Learn if your company’s backhaul
revenues might be in jeopardy of eroding.
We also look back in this issue at the industry’s premier event, the 2018
NTCA Rural Telecom Industry Meeting and Expo (p. 28), where more than 100
companies—including 37 new exhibitors—showed off the latest technologies
and services for rural broadband. That’s also where we handed out the NTCA
Excellence Awards, honoring six outstanding managers, directors, key employees and associate members. And a Heroism Award was given to one brave soul!
Check out all the winners on p. 30.
Even with so much happening at your companies and in our industry, broadband demand never lets up. And neither can those who provide that service,
regardless of the occasional tempest. By the time you receive this issue, March
will be behind us—”like a lamb,” if the old saying holds true. After the whirlwind
of the last several weeks, that should be just fine.