This week saw the annual return of NTCA members to pound the pavement of Capitol Hill. I did have to convince a few folks that even without Congress in session this week, coming to our nation’s capital and being able to share the story of rural broadband innovation (and thank congressional staffers for all of their efforts over the course of the past year) was certainly worth the trip! I certainly hope they felt the value when they flew out to return home today.
Most notably, NTCA broadband providers had an opportunity to hear directly from policymakers on topics that are top of mind. FCC Commissioner Mike O’Rielly urged vigilance and accountability to ensure that the financial resources devoted to rural broadband deployment have guard rails to prevent these federal support programs from overbuilding infrastructure already supported by federal programs and shared the importance of the FCC and USDA continuing to share information with one another.
Commissioner Carr also came by and I enjoyed a “fireside” chat with him as we talked about mapping, performance testing and what he has learned about rural broadband in his travels across rural America. The Commissioners are both very focused on upcoming spectrum auctions and recognize the value of small carriers also being able to access spectrum to ensure that all tools are used for rural broadband deployment.
The new acting RUS administrator, Chad Rupe came by on his second week on the job and shared his vision for partnerships and investments moving rural America forward. A panel of leading congressional staffers, highly regarded FCC staffers and the White House aide on the Telcom front also came by to share some insights as well. A lot of information and a lot of networking.