The E-Connectivity tour 2.0 took place in Minnesota yesterday! Michael Daniels from our NTCA team was on the ground as several NTCA folks and friends shared stories around the importance of broadband deployment and how partnerships can be a component in extending the rural broadband reach even farther.
Kristi Westbrock, CEO and GM for The Consolidated Telephone Company (CTC) in Minnesota, a company known for creatively pulling together broadband partnerships, highlighted the work they are doing with one of their rural electric cooperative partners (who was also sitting at the table with her) and shared how by working together – they are taking broadband penetration even further into their communities. Kristi also noted that “upload equals economic development” and shared how the robust broadband that CTC offers has attracted many businesses and services to the Brainerd area.
Bill Esbeck, head of the Wisconsin State Telecommunications Association, (WSTA) shared that 93 percent of Wisconsin is served at 10/1 speeds and 86 percent have access to 25/3, in part thanks to the work of independent providers in the state as well as the broadband program enacted by Gov. Scott Walker that fosters partnerships but is mindful of not overbuilding. The program is designed to stimulate private investments and the results speak for themselves.
Jannine Miller, the special assistant on Infrastructure at USDA, who has been knee-deep in figuring out how the new RUS pilot project will work, noted that “overbuilding is not allowed” for the new program which elicited a round of applause from the audience. Best use of limited government resources makes a ton of sense.
On a final note, because the irony is not lost on me, we had all encouraged our partners at the Farm Foundation to livestream the event for others across the country and we all kicked in more financial resources to make that happen…but the price cap carrier (NON NTCA member) on the ground didn’t have enough bandwidth to the fairgrounds to make that happen.
Poetic? Ironic? Sad?
At the very least, it highlighted why these discussions are so very important.
But nothing tells the full story like a video: