The NTCA board of directors, along with our Service Management Corporation’s (SMC) board, the Foundation for Rural Service (FRS) board and our Group Health Trustees all gathered this week in Colorado to do some strategic thinking, reviewed policies (public and otherwise) and pondered for the future for the rural broadband industry and what we can all be doing to provide the services needs to move forward into a robust future.
The NTCA board spent a great deal of time reviewing the important internal governance objectives – redoing a relatively outdated policy manual, reviewing and modifying our existing strategic plan, strategizing on steps to take to implement a more realistic dues model other than the current one that is based on access lines and revenues- both of which are declining and looking to capture that NTCA is the broadband association and talking about the current status of USF reform implementation and the wall that many NTCA members are running into with the inability to offer any kind of a reasonable stand-alone broadband product to their rural consumers given the lack of support available to do so…even with over 150 members of Congress (including more than half of the United States Senate) sending letters to the FCC requesting that that policy become a reality and a priority for rural Americans. (As an aside, I was delighted to receive an invitation from the United States Senate Commerce Committee’s subcommittee on Telecommunications, Technology and Innovation to join them for a hearing next week on the FCC’s Universal Service Fund and its support for deployment of broadband in rural America. The title of the hearing is a mouthful but a really critical mouthful and each word in that title has special meaning!)
A lot of important work was conducted and networking accomplished.
Our SMC board also met and we reviewed a number of the important new initiatives on both the GHP and R&S side that our trustees had recently forwarded for approval. More to follow there but there is a nonstop effort to keep offering more flexible and cost-effective options for our membership, particularly given these challenging times.
GHP Trustees? What can I say. These folks are continuing to ensure that our programs are in full compliance with the ACA at the same time that new healthcare reform is debated. Feeling a little bit like ping pong balls!
FRS continues to be looking at innovative ways to support the industry and their mission of improving the quality of life in rural America. The board works hard and has enough energy to run laps around me! I continue to admire our FRS Executive Director Jessica Golden and her leadership and work with the foundation.
A lot going on back in DC, including NTCA filing a forbearance petition today with USTelecom to grant rural local exchange carriers “targeted, temporary forbearance” from requirements to make contributions to the USF based on revenues from providing broadband Internet access services (BIAS), “pending the completion of comprehensive USF contributions reforms.” An important effort that will allow for some parity so I am glad to see it filed. Now time to wing home….
But not after trying to take a failed selfie with Jen in front of Pike’s Peak at the airport.