Heading back from hot and humid but lovely and hospitable Savannah, Georgia as we wrap up our inaugural Summer Symposiums for the year. Nearly 400 NTCA rural broadband providers gathered for a few days of focusing on what matters, strategic thinking, good governance policies, the latest in advocacy topics for the industry, cybersecurity and a host of other topics relevant to ensuring that the time in a company’s boardroom is time well spent.
The opportunity to hit on these critical topics and also have folks network and compare stories and experience is such a valuable use of time and each meeting I have attended with our terrific NTCA team has further solidified the work ahead to support these rural broadband providers as they take the next step in being part of the solution for bringing broadband to at least parts of our country that remain unserved or underserved when it comes to connectivity.
Besides, who doesn’t love a conference where the meeting rooms are adjacent to the Savannah River where large tankers from across the globe make their way…when dolphins aren’t using the path for their swimming lanes. (Fun Fact – Savannah is the third busiest port in our country – who knew??). It simply meant we had to keep the topics fresh and current to keep folks from gazing out the windows too long!
CoBank did an interesting session on the status of the industry – the increased valuation of fiber assets and the promise that fixed wireless has for certain service areas when needed. The future of data centers and other services gave attendees some real topics to ponder. This presentation came on the heels of CoBank releasing a report last week on the value of partnerships between rural telcos and electric coops/distributions to come together to create business models for some areas that are currently not served by either. I was excited to see the position that CoBank has taken and feel like they are now a welcomed partner around the table singing the “partnership” song in harmony with us. Words of wisdom from their Senior Economist? Pick up the phone to your utility counterpart. Just pick up the phone and get a conversation started. Nothing to lose and potentially a great deal to gain for you and your consumers.
It was fitting that as I was making my way to the airport this morning that Members of Congress are all feeling “the love” for rural America today with various proposals rolled out by Democrats and Republicans – all looking for ways to support rural communities and rural infrastructure. They are not all practical or implementable but I appreciate their keeping rural infrastructure needs top of mind.
I’m so glad that the meeting went as well as it did because the return trip has been a summertime travel nightmare as I sit on the tarmac in diverted Raleigh, North Carolina as we make our third attempt to get back into DCA tonight. I only hope that this crummy trip counts in my favor for a smooth trip on the next round!