Tom Wacker and I headed over to USDA today to meet with folks at RUS and those involved in the Trump Administration as they look to set the course at USDA for the new administration.
We spent time walking through NTCA’s membership – who they are, where they serve and the challenges they face serving the high-cost rural portions of America. The role that the RUS lending program plays is a critical one in terms of meeting the needs of rural broadband providers as they continue to build their networks to extend service as far into their communities as possible. It was actually fun to see the program, which Tom and I are so familiar with after working with it for a few decades, through the eyes of someone new to the details of the USDA programs. The appreciation for what RUS and USDA do, the true public-private partnership model and the excellent repayment record that actually makes the RUS telecom program a “super appropriator” program – where the program actually makes money for the federal government – it’s the kind of program that would be created today to address pressing infrastructure investment needs, if it were not already in existence.
Sharing that the rural broadband industry contributed over $24 billion to our American economy in 2015 – and that over 60 percent of that impact goes to urban Americans – is always powerful and is a platform to build from as infrastructure and broadband deployment continue to be a priority.