n Industry ‘in the Sunshine’?
“That is a $64 million question,” said Dustin Durden, general
manager of Pineland Telephone Cooperative, Inc. (Metter, Ga.).
“Who would have thought smartphones 10 years ago would be
where they are today? We’re morphing into highly competitive
businesses that are going to deliver a pipe of data to homes
and businesses where it’s going to be consumed by an infinite
amount of devices that we haven’t even dreamed up yet.”
Aside from immense technological advances, rural telcos
have seen a flurry of changes in the regulatory and business
environments in which they operate, leading them to find new
ways of tackling financial, competitive and operational chal-
lenges. With those challenges grew a strong entrepreneurial
spirit and companies that are highly aware and increasingly
responsive to the needs of their communities, even as that
sometimes requires taking new risks.
Yet, precisely because of the still-evolving sets of changes
first glimpsed by the 1995 Futures Committee, the current Futures
Task Force concluded that there is no effective way in today’s
marketplace to define a “typical” telco. Instead, the group recognized that—even as they share common historical roots, commitment to community and a focus on broadband as a platform
for innovation—telcos vary greatly in lines of business and face
diversified challenges and opportunities that defy “
one-size-fits-all” treatment. The Futures group therefore focused on what they
believe NTCA members need to know to prepare their companies for the future—wherever they may happen to be right now
as part of a more diversified industry. The task force published
what it learned in a report, “A Practical Guide to Charting One’s
Own Course,” that is now available on the NTCA website.