rtime wrapup: new rules. new Strategies. new
By Angie Tran > Winter > 30
fall Conference preview
By Angie Tran > Summer > 30
PROdUCTS & SERVICES
2017 product previews
Jan/Feb > 34
2017 telecom Business pullout Section
winners Circle: innovation in rural telecom pr and
By Jonah Arellano > Summer > 34
PUbLIC RELATIONS & MARkETING
Srt Brings Steam program to north dakota State fair
By Cassidy Hjelmstad and Teal Myre > Jan/Feb > 42
marketing to Small-town america
By Dennis McGarry > Spring > 34
a Broadband State of mind
By Laura Withers > Summer > 18
making the most of wi-fi opportunities
By Masha Zager > Summer > 24
Broadband trends Show progress for rural america
By Rick Schadelbauer > Jan/Feb > 28
how telework is working in rural america
By Rachel Brown > Spring > 18
top 10 Considerations of fiber installations
By David R. Cook > Spring > 24
get Smart: Smart rural Community turns five
By Joshua Seidemann > Fall > 18
rural telecom Cybersecurity: an expert’s View
By Mike Riddile > Fall > 32
wireless wins and worries
By Rick Schadelbauer > Spring > 42
Cable news Consumption up … especially among older
By Christian Hamaker > Summer > 46
the need for Speed
By Rick Schadelbauer > Fall > 42
18RURAL TELECOM Summer 2017
hen announcing the availability of $500 million in public funding for broadband deployment in his state,
New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo looked to the past to put the unprecedented investment into perspective.
“This is infrastructure for today,” he said. “It is Eisenhower’s highway road system of the ’50s. It’s
what Gov. Smith, what DeWitt Clinton did with the Erie Canal. Broadband is that basic a requirement.”
His words would carry to the halls of Congress and federal agencies more than 300 miles south of
Albany, where a national dialogue about broadband rivaling roads, bridges and airports as 21st century
infrastructure would soon catch fire. The foresight of Cuomo and his staff in crafting the country’s most
aggressive state government effort to close a connectivity gap between urban and rural communities
would also earn the praise of the FCC chairman and the envy of countless state legislators facing similar
vexing rural broadband challenges.
A Broadband State of Mind
How New York Set Out to Bring Access to All by 2018
Left to right: Gov. Cuomo chats with Bob
Puckett, Glen Faulkner and Don Bramley;
Jim and Jason with grandmother and
company CEO Marge Becker (94 years
old); Gov. Cuomo introduces his “Broad
band for All” initiative; MID TEL President
Jim Becker (center) and Exec. VP/GM
Jason Becker (right) accepting Phase 1
Broadband Award from Broadband Office
Exec VP Jeff Nordhaus; Dr. Dennis
Deaton presents to employees of GTel,
along with members of the surrounding
communities and strategic partners.
state is rural
l BY LAURA WIThERs
On the day of the announcement in August 2016, however, those outcomes were far from sight.
What was clear was that this action would succeed or fail on the participation of large and small tele-communications providers serving disparate pockets of the state. The success of the program, which
is now awarding its third phase of projects, was achieved largely on the eagerness of independent
telecom providers to serve greater numbers of rural New Yorkers by edging out their networks, signaling
that with a deep commitment, strong track record of service and public support to offset the extraordinary costs, even the industry’s smallest players can bring broadband to the masses.
Cuomo’s “Broadband for All” initiative made waves for two reasons. First, it brought half a billion dollars
for broadband deployment and second, it required that projects be completed faster than any state
program before it, leading Cuomo to call it a “game changer.” The program’s first phase awarded $54
million to incumbent telecom providers through a reverse auction, followed by $212 million in the second
phase, which the state estimates will bring broadband to 82,000 homes and 7,000 businesses in unserved
and underserved census blocks by 2018. New York also petitioned the FCC to allocate $170 million in
unclaimed Connect America Fund dollars to its statewide broadband efforts. The commission granted
the request in January.
Among a bevy of project requirements is the ability to serve a minimum of 100 Mbps download speeds,
or a minimum of 25 Mbps in the most remote areas, and to complete all major fiber routes by the
PHOTOS COURTESY NEW YORK STATE BROADBAND
PROGRAM OffiCE EXCEPT AS NOTED
In September 2017,
NTCA recognized 13 rural broadband providers
with the Smart Rural CommunitySM Showcase award.
Below we offer a retrospective of a half decade of Smart
Rural Community that explores the history of the initiative,
elements of its programming and achievements its award
recipients have enjoyed.
l By JoShuA SeIdeMANN
SRC A WARDEES 2012-2016 (Seenextspreadfor2017awardees)
RuRAL Te Le CoM Fall 2017 Fall 2017 RuRAL Te Le CoM
About six years ago, NTCA staff met with an international
tech firm that was beginning to articulate a vision for smart
cities. Intelligent architecture for public utility grids, smart
homes and autonomous vehicles were among several ideas
that emerged, all aiming toward a goal of creating efficient
and technically advanced communities. These ideas were
presented as having relevance mostly for big cities, where
relief from transportation or other infrastructure strains
We then thought, “What about a Smart Rural Community?”
What can be done to create rural areas in which broadband
is leveraged to invigorate economic activity, improve public
services, open doorways for education and increase access
to better health care?
Copper Valley Telecom
Cooperative Inc. (Metter)
Madison Telephone Co.
Citizens Mutual Telephone
Inc. (Sioux Center)
South Slope Cooperative
Mutual Telephone Co.
Association Inc. (Everest)
Association Inc. (Council
Twin Valley Telephone Co.,
Peoples Rural Telephone
Garden Valley Telephone
Park Region Telephone
Co./Otter Tail Telcom
West Central Telephone
Corp. (West Jefferson)
Mutual Aid Corp. (Park
Cooperative, Ltd. (Ripley)
FTC Communications Inc.
Home Telecom Co. Inc.
Ben Lomand Connect
North Central Telephone
Big Bend Telephone Co.
Waitsfield and Champlain
Group, LLC (Milltown)
Tri-County Communications Cooperative
West Wisconsin Telcom
Cooperative Inc. (Westby)
RURAL TELECOM Fall 2017
RECRUITING RECRUITING AND
Fall 2017 RURAL TELECOM
Green Acres is the place to be.
Farm livin’ is the life for me.
Land spreadin’ out so far and wide
Keep Manhattan, just give me that countryside.
hile this catchy tune is perfect for the
1960s sitcom, “Green Acres,” it’s not one that most job applicants are humming. Recruiting and retaining
quality employees is a struggle for most companies, but it’s an even bigger challenge in rural America.
Recent statistics and headlines don’t make it easier to entice highly skilled employees to come to rural areas.
This spring, a Wall Street Journal article, “Rural America Is the New Inner City,” analyzed data from
the latest Census Bureau statistics and discovered:
l Rural populations have declined for the past five years, with more deaths than births.
l Rural areas rank lowest in the country for college attainment levels.
l Three out of four rural counties have not fully recovered economically from the last recession.
Despite these discouraging words, rural America can be a wonderful place to live and work, particularly as high-speed internet and advanced telecommunications extend out past urban and suburban
areas. NTCA’s member companies are hard at work toward that goal, but they need qualified employees
to make that happen. There are numerous ways to find, recruit and retain such workers.
Recruiters, Contractors, Retirees
“We struggle with key positions—broadband engineers, IT staff, software developers,” said Peggy
Winebarger, corporate recruiter for SkyLine Membership Corp. (West Jefferson, N.C.).
Recruiting firms can help, but they often have a fairly steep price tag, usually ranging from 20%–35%
of the first-year salary of the position.
Before resorting to a recruiting firm, Dan Ryan, principal for Ryan Search & Consulting, advised
using online employment sites like LinkedIn, Indeed.com and Hoover Recruiting. Use these as networking tools by doing simple searches for skillsets. “If someone’s a match, reach out and ask, ‘Are you
interested? If not, do you know someone who might be?’” Ryan suggested.
One persistent area of need—IT professionals and software developers—can be addressed better
through contractor roles versus as employees. “IT people can work remotely and still be very effective,”
Ryan said. “Use online tools like GoToMeeting to bridge that gap for in-person meetings.”
When a project requires hands-on involvement, Ryan suggested bringing in a group of contractors
on a temporary basis. “Pull together a group for a set timeline and then disband,” he said. “Talent is
scarce, so it makes sense to buy only what you need to get more bang for your buck.”
Another source of temporary or part-time help is local retirees, who can be brought in for busy periods,
recommended Sabrina Starling, a rural employment expert and author of “How to Hire the Best: The
Rural Business Owner’s Ultimate Guide to Attracting Top Performing Employees.”
SkyLine has had success with retirees. “One man came in and worked on a project and left,”
explained Angie Miller, human resources manager. “A year later, we brought him back for another project.
Eventually, we hired him as a full-time employee.”
By RAChEL BROwn
<photo+GRAphIC: SALVAtoRE FERRo