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Rural Telecom, established in 1981, is the quarterly magazine
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By Christian Hamaker, Editor
Welcome to 2018.
Last year was tough for some—just pull up Twitter or
Facebook to be reminded of the many reasons people were glad to
turn the page on 2017. If those sentiments seemed unsurprising, maybe that’s because
the recent “I’m ready for this year to be over” complaints recalled a similar batch of
exhausted responses, 12 months earlier, to the end of 2016. “Can’t this year just be
done already?” many asked then—and again at the conclusion of 2017.
But last year saw progress for the independent broadband industry. While NTCA–
The Rural Broadband Association worked to have the FCC fix the shortfall in the high
cost Universal Service Fund budget, a change in FCC leadership also led to a surprisingly
robust pace of regulatory change.
As NTCA Senior Vice President of Industry Affairs and Business Development Michael
Romano wrote in this issue’s “2018 Regulatory Outlook: No Rest for the Weary; No Time
To Be Weary” (see p. 19), the NTCA members most engaged with policymakers last year
expressed “astonishment at the level of activity by the FCC under Chairman [Ajit] Pai.”
“This might have been expected considering then-Commissioner Pai’s many robust
dissents from orders issued by the Tom Wheeler-led FCC in prior years,” Romano wrote,
“but the brisk pace at which proposals have flowed to undo or do-over many of the
Wheeler-era decisions and tackle other priorities surprised even the most veteran FCC
With no indication that 2018 will be any different with respect to the pace of activity
or the issues to tackle, the prospect of another eventful year might be joyous or ominous
depending on your expectations. From a legislative perspective (see Scott Lively’s arti-
cle, “2018 Legislative Outlook: Less Talk, More Action,” p. 18), call-completion legislation
has never been closer to final passage, the Farm Bill expires this September and an infra-
structure package could affect broadband deployment. November’s midterm elections
also have the potential to shift party control of the U.S. Senate or House of Representatives.
It’s all enough to make you wonder how those year-end tweets might read come
late December of this year. Will exasperation dominate, or will people, on social media
or otherwise, find things about 2018 to publicly praise?
You can follow along with us (on NTCA’s new website!) at www.ntca.org to see
how the industry is responding to the year’s news as it breaks. And, of course, you can
read deeper analysis in Rural Telecom of the issues affecting your industry. Whether
you’re anticipating or dreading the months to come, we hope you’re looking forward to
reading our coverage of the rural broadband industry in 2018 as much as we’re looking forward to reporting it.
in the New Year