What an amazing opportunity we had today to share with the White House the story of NTCA members’ Smart Rural Communities. We were honored to have been invited by the White House Rural Council to celebrate the Smart Rural Community (SRC) initiative that we kicked off in 2012 and to have the opportunity to share that moment with a number of our members who received SRC designations over the past two years.
It was a great time celebrating the broadband future that our broadband providers are delivering to their customers and communities. From success stories on health care, education and public safety to efficient energy management, NTCA members have shown time and time again that they are not only the brains behind the networks they deploy, but also proven solution providers with a track record for adapting to and embracing change, and most importantly, responding to the needs of their communities. In spite of the regulatory uncertainty these carriers have faced on the federal level and not knowing whether investments they make today will be supported in the future through clear and predictable universal service policies, many of them have forged ahead with network upgrades. They have done it so their customers can enjoy the same access to affordable, advanced technologies that we have here in our nation’s capital.
I loved hearing Nancy White, CEO at North Central in Tennessee, sharing how North Central’s efforts to provide broadband to the local hospital allowed X-rays to be read on the same day (imagine that!) instead of waiting over the weekend or having a single X-ray take 3 hours to load and pull down the entire computer network. Or Brian Thomason, CEO of Blue Valley in Kansas, sharing that the telco’s “mission is serious and somewhat daunting: to provide technology that will enable economic development opportunities in our community.” Or Keith Gabbard, CEO of PRTC in Kentucky, noting that “the greatest accomplishments in life are those that benefit others.”
I was so proud to represent every single NTCA member sitting around that table, like folks from Copper Valley, Triangle, Solarus, Tri-County, Gardonville, CTC and more. Also seated around that table was the head of the White House Rural Council, the U.S. deputy chief technology officer, the new acting RUS administrator, folks from FCC Chairman Wheeler’s office, the Virginia Office of Rural Health, HHS, FirstNet and more. The best part of the day was the networking at the end where connections were made and follow up was planned. Indeed, in Washington D.C., it’s about connecting the dots and taking those next steps. More building blocks in place.
It was such a great day that it deserved a little photobombing at the end!