I know, I know it’s impossible to turn on the television and NOT realize that it’s political season in rare and early spring bloom, but in the spirit that politics can be local, we’ve had a few candidates running for Congress drop by the NTCA headquarters to chat about their platform and why they would be a strong voice for rural telecommunications in Congress. We had a candidate in from Michigan today, running for the seat in the Upper Peninsula, who did a very nice job sharing his perspective on the importance of communications and broadband in rural Michigan, as well as some of the barriers facing carriers on topics such as rights-of-way. All in all, it was a good discussion and I appreciated his making the effort to head over to meet our team. In the category of a “small world,” it didn’t hurt that one of his campaign folks happened to be originally from the same town that I spent some time in when I lived in Wisconsin, Fond du Lac. We didn’t horrify the younger folks in the room by comparing years that we lived there to see if we overlapped, but it was fun enough to connect with someone who I didn’t have to draw a picture of the state of Wisconsin and show Fond du Lac at the foot of Lake Winnebago to have them understand where I spent most of my formative years.
That was followed today by a call with the folks from EducationSuperHighway who had been big drivers on the E-Rate front. It is very evident from our discussion that they are expanding their efforts to the state front and working very closely with state Governors in an effort to continue their march to get fiber to every school, getting Wi-Fi funding approved by state procurement procedures and working with school districts to get more money for broadband capacity. Education is always a great initiative in an election year, and it sounds as though they have carved out some key discussions with nearly 40 Governors. I continue to push the case that more high-cost support is needed to ensure that the networks that connect to schools across rural America are robust enough to support the bandwidth they are looking to promote, in addition to the amazing job that NTCA members have already done in building advanced networks to their local schools. More to follow as we see what role this entity will play in “matchmaking” schools in need to service providers and whether we can bring some opportunities to the table.
Maybe all of this needs to be capped by watching CNN’s interview this evening with the five remaining Presidential candidates. Or, maybe I’ll just take a break from politics for the rest of the evening!