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NDATC joins comments on e-Connectivity pilot program

Staff report

This fall, the North Dakota Association of Telecommunications Cooperatives (NDATC) joined in a response to a Notice of Inquiry and Request for Comments issued by the U.S. Department of Agriculture and Rural Utilities Service (RUS). Comments regarded the implementation of the RUS pilot broadband program, e-Connectivity.

The e-Connectivity pilot program was established last March in the Consolidated Appropriations Act of 2018. The pilot is a $600 million program of loans and grants for funding the costs of construction, improvement and acquisition of facilities and equipment for broadband service in eligible communities.

“We are pleased to have the opportunity to provide guidance to USDA and RUS on how this important proposed connectivity resource can best be utilized,” says David Crothers, NDATC general manager. “Although North Dakota’s rural telecom services providers are extending state-of-the-art broadband service to virtually all of our state’s landmass areas and hundreds of communities, we believe the RUS e-Connectivity pilot program can be a good resource supporting broadband buildout nationwide,” he said.

NDATC joined in comments provided under the auspices of the National Council of State Telecommunications Association Executives. NDATC, and its association counterparts nationwide, represent telecommunications carriers, suppliers and vendors. Collectively, these associations represent hundreds of telecommunications carriers, many of which use RUS loan and grant program services, and which participate in the Federal Communications Commission’s universal service programs.

NDATC and its member organizations, along with most of its counterpart state organizations and members, provides telecom and broadband service in rural areas. They are familiar with issues pertaining to broadband service in rural America.

Crothers indicates the comments on the e-Connectivity pilot program which the association executives submitted fall into these categories: 1) existing programs should be used as guides; 2) program applicants should adhere to certain good governance principles; 3) applicant evaluation criteria to be favored; 4) caution concerning use of National Broadband Map; and 5) overbuilding prohibition emphasis.  

        

Consolidated Telcom earns Smart Rural Community

From NTCA materials

NTCA–The Rural Broadband Association, the premier national association representing nearly 850 independent, community-based telecommunications companies, recently recognized 13 companies in rural areas of the United States that each have earned Smart Rural Community® Showcase Award.

Consolidated Telcom, Dickinson, is one of the companies receiving this Smart Rural Community recognition.

This recognition is part of the association’s effort to highlight projects that make rural communities vibrant places in which to live and do business. With the announcement of these 13 new award winners, NTCA will have honored 69 rural broadband providers as Showcase Awardees since the program launched in 2013.

The goal of the NTCA Smart Rural Community initiative is to foster the development of modern, productive communities throughout rural America and Canada by encouraging innovation in the application of new broadband resources and next-generation ideas for education, telehealth services, work flexibility, public safety and security. Smart Rural Community provides educational programming, matching grant resources and an award program to recognize top-performing communities.

NTCA Smart Rural Community award recipients were recognized at a fall NTCA gathering of more than 1,200 rural telecom leaders in Seattle, Wash.