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Opioids, Rural America and Broadband

Opioids, Rural America and Broadband

It’s hard to pick up a news source these days without seeing a reference to the epidemic of drug overdose deaths here in our country.  In 2017, more than 72,000 Americans died from a drug overdose.  That number translates to 197 people a day.  That counts as a national tragedy and epidemic for sure particularly since an overwhelming majority of these overdose deaths involve an opioid.  Rural America can be particularly hard hit given the lack of some support networks…

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Big Day For Moving Rural Telecommunications Forward

Big Day For Moving Rural Telecommunications Forward

Thankfully today is Friday, April 12th and not April 1st.  There are so many good things happening that I simply want to ensure that there are no April Fool’s shenanigans going on! We started the day with a call initiated by the White House hosting FCC Chairman Pai who shared that later in the day he would be heading to the White House for a briefing on 5G as well as a new rural broadband funding initiative being rolled out….

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Getting Ready to Hit the Hill!

Getting Ready to Hit the Hill!

Next week is NTCA’s annual pilgrimage up to Capitol Hill and a prime opportunity to share their stories of how they are continuing their broadband builds in the rural parts of our country.  I know some folks are bummed that Congress will be on recess that week but honestly, it’s a wonderful opportunity to spend even more time with the key congressional staffers from the offices of these elected officials and to dig a little bit deeper into the issues…

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CTC Shares Partnership Philosophy

CTC Shares Partnership Philosophy

NRECA  – the national association for rural electric cooperatives –  recently invited Kristi Westbrock, CEO and general manager of Consolidated Telephone Co. (CTC) in Brainerd, MN, to tell her story of innovation and creative thinking.  CTC has been engaged in broadband partnerships with Minnesota electric cooperatives for a decade and it has been a good experience for CTC, their employees and the people the serve.  If you ask Kristi, she would love to do it again and again. Kristi noted…

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Starting the New Year with a Full Tank

Starting the New Year with a Full Tank

2018 felt crazy-busy. Maybe everything in our lives is accelerated thanks to the zero downtime lifestyle many of us have adopted with 24/7 access to information as well as one another. In the spirit of starting the new year on the right note, Don and I went to a farmhouse inn in Virginia near lovely Afton Mountain for a few days. It was actually a retreat that I signed us up for months ago as one of Don’s birthday presents…

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Hurray for Congress Moving a Farm Bill

Hurray for Congress Moving a Farm Bill

Every five years, Congress renews its priorities to agriculture and rural America by passing a farm bill with all the rural development and agriculture programs under the purview of USDA. The existing legislation funded programs through 2018 and the clock was literally ticking as the 115th Congress winds down here in Washington, D.C. A collective sigh went out this afternoon as an agreement was reached and the Senate passed the 2018 Farm Bill Conference report by a vote of 87-13…

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Sharing Thoughts with RUS

Sharing Thoughts with RUS

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…

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Stories from the Sho-Me States

Stories from the Sho-Me States

It seems that every time I come back to the Springfield/Branson area, there are more things hopping in the area. This time, I noticed that the airport has continued to turn itself from a sleepy commuter hub to a sleek, modern facility with more electric outlets than any I have seen in my recent travels. Never underestimate the power (no pun intended) or importance of airport outlets; I’ve been known to hang out in the O’Hare Airport bathrooms simply because…

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Here We Go….Time to Sharpen the Pencils to Comment on the Proposed RUS Broadband Pilot Program

Here We Go….Time to Sharpen the Pencils to Comment on the Proposed RUS Broadband Pilot Program

A few months ago, Congress acted on the importance of broadband connections with the realization that it will take resources to actually get the job done. That was certainly a step in the right direction. Next step? Getting out some thoughts on how that program should operate, who should participate and what type of incentives will be offered. I know that it’s kind of “cheating” but I thought there was a great deal of value in sharing exactly what USDA…

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NTCA and Government Leaders Discuss Broadband in the Field

NTCA and Government Leaders Discuss Broadband in the Field

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…

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