RUS and USDA are hard at work gathering feedback on their recently released NOI on the new rural broadband pilot program with comments due at the start of next week. The process has been fast and furious and I hope that USDA is just as fast and furious when it comes to releasing funds out the door to rural broadband providers who utilize it so they can continue to build in areas where deployment is needed. It is going to be really important for folks to hear from providers who have a vested interest in ensuring that the rules of this program—which might dictate rules for future programs—is set in a way that makes sense and that prioritizes the most productive use of limited federal dollars. Now that my daughter is a federal employee and won’t be given a federal pay raise this year, I am even more conscious of where these funds go and want to ensure they are used wisely on small and large-scale initiatives! (OK, that was just a mom talking, but you know what I mean…let’s not waste federal dollars with overbuilding, OK?)
Here is a reminder of what we shared with our members today with hopes that USDA has the opportunity to hear from folks who have the best potential to build these networks….
Dear NTCA Member,
On Wednesday, you should have received information about a letter that NTCA–The Rural Broadband Association will submit on behalf of individual members to the United States Department of Agriculture’s Rural Utilities Service (RUS), in response to its request for comment on implementation of the new e-Connectivity Pilot Program.
Among other things, the joint company letter asks—in parallel with comments submitted by NTCA—that financing be targeted toward rural areas with the highest need; that networks are built for the long haul, and that RUS coordinate with other federal and state broadband initiatives so that programs complement, rather than conflict with, each other.
NTCA members have a proven track record of success when it comes to providing robust broadband connections in rural, low-density areas. You continue to innovate in the face of an ever-changing industry, and advocating for the most efficient and effective use of limited federal resources ensures that you can continue to do that work. Your voice and perspective are a valuable part of the conversation surrounding implementation of the pilot program.
That’s why I hope you’ll consider adding your company’s name to the letter, which will be sent to RUS on your behalf on September 10, 2018.
It takes a village to tell the story so I am hopeful that folks will weigh in….