began with a roar: The new Universal Service Fund (USF) budget control
mechanism was announced. Nearly 200 members of Congress shared their
support for long-term USF budget sufficiency in letters to the FCC. NTCA staff
and members continue to testify at hearings on Capitol Hill. Work on the Farm Bills in
the House and Senate is ongoing. And those are just a few of the reasons it’s been a whirl-
wind first half of 2018. Long-term USF budget sufficiency and coordination among federal broad-
band-focused programs are our advocacy themes this year. Thanks for staying on the roller coaster with us!
By Shirley Bloomfield
is chief executive
can be reached at
ntca.org. You can
also follow her
blog at ntca.org/
Telling the Rural
on Capitol Hill
It’s always a treat to be invited to share
the rural broadband story on Capitol
Hill. 2017 brought a record number of
opportunities for NTCA members and
staff to testify, and 2018 has followed a
similar pace. No matter the topic—from
small business chal-
lenges and agricul-
involved, it’s a great
opportunity to share
that the initial busi-
ness case for deployment must be
made and that the USF is the linchpin
of that business case. NTCA has a seat
at the table and leverages it to move
the needle on rural broadband policy.
Three years ago, NTCA launched its
Gig-Capable Provider certification program to acknowledge the work of our
members to deliver gigabit broadband
speeds and enable innovation in rural
communities across the nation. This
May we recognized our 150th Certified
Gig-Capable Provider, Blue Valley Telecommunications of Home, Kan., with
(what else?) a celebratory cake. I take
my hat off to all our Certified Gig-Capable
Providers for the work you do. This milestone is a testament to the diligent efforts
of small rural providers to build a better
broadband future for rural America.
Check out our certified providers or
apply at www.ntca.org/gigcertified.
As most of you know, I am a big fan of
collaboration. And over the years, I’ve
seen firsthand how innovation is
spurred when we put our heads
together to solve a problem. That is
why I was so pleased to see the NTCA
Board of Directors establish a task force
on telco-electric relationships. This task
force is focused on exploring how telcos and electric co-ops can coexist and
work alongside each other to bridge the
digital divide, while avoiding costly overbuilding of robust, existing broadband
facilities. In April we had the pleasure of
meeting with Jannine Miller of the U.S.
Department of Agriculture to discuss
infrastructure and broadband initiatives.
The exchange of ideas was lively, and I
am looking forward to creating a platform that will offer these providers creative ideas on achieving a win-win.
There is a lot of work ahead for this
group, but the possibilities are endless.
A Roaring Start to 2018