Last week, we announced that NTCA-The Rural Broadband Association, along with the Farm Foundation, NRECA, CFC, and CoBank are partnering with the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) to organize a series of listening sessions across the nation to gather insights into the tools that are needed to improve e-connectivity in rural America. Our first discussion will be held in Minnesota on June 19. This event will focus on hearing from rural stakeholders about the need for and positive solutions to obtaining quality broadband services for rural America.
Public participation will add strength to understanding the importance of quality broadband services for rural America and e-connectivity to the economic, educational and social vitality of rural America. Brief presentations will be made by USDA, Wisconsin State Telecommunications Association, the Minnesota Office of Broadband Development, Mille Lacs Energy Cooperative, Consolidated Telecommunications Company, and Minnesota Association of Townships. We so appreciate folks like Kristi Westbrock (CTC) and Bill Esbeck (WSTA) for stepping up to share their perspectives on what it really takes to build robust broadband in rural communities and how much it is valued by those who live in rural America.
This upper Midwest listening session is the first one planned across the country to gather specific input from broadband providers and the people who use – or would like to be able to use – those services. A report of those sessions will be provided to federal and state public and private leaders to better inform their decisions regarding improvements to, and expansion of, broadband services in rural America.
Here at NTCA, we all know exactly what it means and spend 24/7 thinking about related challenges and opportunities. This will be a terrific way for key players at USDA to see firsthand what is happening in the field and how government might play a positive role in moving the ball forward.