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A compilation of posts from NRTC’s blog, Rural Connect.


Exede Retail Reaches 1,000-Subscriber Milestone
By Chris Martin, NRTC VP, Industry & Member Relations

In July, NRTC’s Exede Retail business surpassed the 1,000-subscriber mark. In addition, we added more new Exede Retail subscribers in July than in any previous month at 129.

Congratulations to the members who are currently participating in the Retail Business Model. You’re making a difference in the communities you serve by offering this valuable broadband service. Chickasaw Electric Cooperative, Somerville, TN, was the first NRTC member to join the retail business in the summer of 2012. More than 20 other members have joined them. We’re launching five additional members this summer.

The Retail Model enables NRTC members – both electric cooperatives and telephone members – to offer Exede broadband service to their members/customers without having to devote staff resources or invest money to operate the business. NRTC pays all costs related to promoting the service, activating new Exede subscribers and providing customer care and billing.

To read the rest of this post, go to NRTC’s Rural Connect.

Member Survey Results Show Greater Satisfaction With NRTC Over Previous Query

In August, NRTC CEO Tim Bryan emailed all members with the results of the NRTC 2014 Member Survey. It was a chance for members to provide feedback on NRTC’s mission, products and services, and the effectiveness of its service to members. The survey drew a high response – about 40 percent of the membership – and showed across the board greater satisfaction compared to a previous 2008 survey.

“Our read of these results is that NRTC has made great progress in the past several years, but much improvement lies ahead of us,” Bryan said. “Our staff must know and understand member businesses better, respond more effectively, and our solutions must provide the solid value members require. While there’s still much work to do, we are up for the challenge!”

member survey


To read the rest of this post, go to NRTC’s Rural Connect
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2013 NRTC Annual Report Promotes Strength in Numbers

NRTC recently mailed out its 2013 Annual Report to all members. The report includes complete financial information for calendar year 2013 and a review of many NRTC’s activities from the previous year. The report’s theme: “There’s Strength in Numbers.”.

“Strength in numbers has multiple meanings,” writes NRTC CEO Tim Bryan in the report’s introduction. He pointed to good earnings numbers that allow NRTC to operate from a position of strength when negotiating with large, national companies for terms to benefit NRTC members. There also is the strength that comes from the teamwork of more than 1,500 NRTC members working with NRTC staff.

“Our real strength in numbers is the number and strength of our members, both electric and telephone, that increasingly see NRTC as a leader in providing technology solutions that work for them,” Bryan says.

To read the rest of this post, go to NRTC’s Rural Connect.

Telispire Turnkey Approach Enables Wireless Service in Rural Areas

Telispire, NRTC’s wholly owned subsidiary mobile virtual network operator (MVNO), is a powerful partner for rural telecommunications providers that want to offer wireless voice and data to their customers. NRTC recently released a short video featuring one of Telispire’s success stories.

“With a small office, a small company, rural area, we did not have the resources, the people, the training to be able to pull off a cellular product, which was important to our customers and to us to provide that service,” says Kaye VanderVorst, marketing coordinator for Valley Telecommunications, Herreid, SD, in the video. “The back office part … we obviously didn’t have the resources to somehow manage wireless … Telispire with their solution was able to do that for us.”

Valley had scaled back its Telispire offering a few years ago due to changes in the local competitive landscape. By early 2013, it was ready to re-launch the business. The video describes how, with Telispire’s assistance, Valley was able to hit its targets and rebuild its subscriber numbers within a year. Telispire assists Valley and other rural companies with back office solutions, marketing advice and assistance, deals affordable mobile devices and access to spectrum with nationwide roaming.

To read the rest of this post, go to NRTC’s Rural Connect.

Midwest Energy’s Bob Hance Advocates for Electric Co-ops Providing Broadband

NRTC Board Member Bob Hance, president and CEO of Midwest Energy Cooperative in Cassopolis, MI, appeared on July 29 before the House Agriculture Subcommittee on Livestock, Rural Development and Credit. Speaking on behalf of NRECA, Hance discussed the need for rural electric cooperatives to be eligible for government programs that offer financial support for broadband projects.

“Cooperatives like Midwest Energy are well suited to build and maintain broadband networks. We have a wealth of experience in building regulated utility networks. We aren’t asking for a preferential treatment, just an opportunity to compete,” he said in written testimony.

Hance said that Midwest Energy recently began construction on a project to bring fiber-fed broadband to rural communities. The cooperative is connecting its substations and other facilities with a 243-mile fiber ring to support smart grid applications. “Leveraging this key asset provides us a unique opportunity to deploy a high-speed, next-generation broadband solution where one currently does not exist,” he said.

He said that Midwest’s members have been “clamoring” for broadband access. “Within days” after sending a call-to-action memo to measure member interest in having Midwest provide broadband service, it received more than 600 responses.

To read the rest of this post, go to NRTC’s Rural Connect. Also see Tracking Electric Cooperatives Providing Broadband.

Minnesota Cooperative Offers View of Community Solar Project

Greg Ternet, CEO of Parke County Rural Electric Membership Corp. in Indiana (below) recently traveled to Rockford, MN, to tour the Wright-Hennepin Solar Community, a project led by NRTC-member Wright-Hennepin Cooperative Electric Association. The cooperative worked closely with NRTC partner tenKsolar, Bloomington, MN, to develop the project, which allows as many cooperative members as possible benefit from solar generation.


Under the plan, consumers contribute toward installing collectors in Wright-Hennepin CEA’s solar array, which currently totals 171 panels. Residential or business customers participating in the program receive credits on their monthly electric bills. It is a way for renters or others who are unable to install solar panels on their own premises to support solar expansion.

Parke County REMC’s Ternet “is researching what other members are doing to determine if a solar project would make sense for his cooperative,” said NRTC Regional Business Manager Mark Davis, who accompanied Ternet on the Wright-Hennepin tour. Steve Nisbet, Wright-Hennepin CEA’s VP, Technology Operations, and tenKsolar Senior VP Jim Losleben led the tour.

Next Section 706 Report Could Include New Broadband Definition, Mobile/Satellite Analysis

The FCC has released a Notice of Inquiry (NOI) in preparation for the next report to Congress on the state of broadband in the United States. Section 706 of the Telecom Act of 1996 instructs the FCC periodically to assess whether broadband service is reaching all Americans in “a reasonable and timely fashion.” After receiving public comment on the NOI, the Commission will release a report, likely early next year.

As expected, the NOI asks whether to increase the speed benchmark defining broadband from the current 4 Mbps downstream/1 Mbps upstream. The Commission in recent months has discussed the possibility of raising the benchmark to 10 Mbps/4 Mbps. The NOI proposes the 10 Mbps benchmark but also asks for comment on a series of proposals up to 15 Mbps, depending on the level of household usage.

“Congress has instructed us that all Americans should have access to robust broadband services, no matter where they live,” Chairman Tom Wheeler said. “And as more people adopt faster broadband speeds, we are asking if all consumers, even in the most rural regions, should have greater access to better broadband.”

To read the rest of this post, go to NRTC’s Rural Connect.


 

If you have any comments or questions about NRTConnects, contact your NRTC regional business manager or write us at nrtconnects@nrtc.coop.


© 2014 NRTC
2121 Cooperative Way
Herndon, VA 20171
www.nrtc.coop

Our Mission

To lead and support our members by delivering telecommunications solutions to strengthen member businesses, promote economic development and improve the quality of life in rural America.

In This Issue

Exede Retail Reaches 1,000-Subscriber Milestone

Member Survey Results Show Greater Satisfaction With NRTC Over Previous Query

2013 NRTC Annual Report Promotes Strength in Numbers

Telispire Turnkey Approach Enables Wireless Service in Rural Areas

Midwest Energy’s Bob Hance Advocates for Electric Co-ops Providing Broadband

Minnesota Cooperative Offers View of Community Solar Project

Next Section 706 Report Could Include New Broadband Definition, Mobile/Satellite Analysis

NeoNova Chooses Zimbra Email Platform

FCC Publishes Procedures for Rural Broadband Experiment Applications

North Dakota NRTC Member Benefits From Latest RUS Loans Awards

Energy-saving and Security Devices Driving Connected Home

Where You Can See NRTC

In Brief

NeoNova Chooses Zimbra Email Platform

NeoNova, NRTC’s cloud computing and ISP subsidiary, has chosen Zimbra collaboration software to support email, file-sharing and other tasks for ISP customers. “The Zimbra platform enables NeoNova to better meet the needs of rural broadband providers and their consumers, while also allowing for future growth,” said Jason McGinnis, NeoNova’s VP, Operations. Zimbra is a Frisco, TX-based company with offices in California, Japan, Singapore, India and the UK. It is the third largest collaboration software provider in the world.

FCC Publishes Procedures for Rural Broadband Experiment Applications

FCC staff has been providing information over several weeks to assist rural entities interested in applying for money to support rural broadband experiments. Earlier this summer, the Commission adopted an order setting aside $100 million to fund broadband installations of various technology types to determine the most cost-effective approaches. The funds are available to rural telcos as well as other companies that do not traditionally receive FCC universal support, including electric utilities. Recently the FCC published the precise procedures for filing an application. As earlier announced, the applications will serve as bids in a reverse auction to provide support to the lowest bidder. The applications are due electronically by 6 p.m. Eastern Time on Tuesday, Oct. 14. The document provides step-by-step instructions for filling out the application form.

To read the rest of this post, go to NRTC’s Rural Connect. Also see FCC Updates List of Areas Eligible for Rural Broadband Experiments.

North Dakota NRTC Member Benefits From Latest RUS Loans Awards

NRTC-member Red River Rural Telephone Association, Abercrombie, is one of three rural telephone companies to win financial support from USDA’s Rural Utilities Service. The rural telco will receive an $8.5 million loan through the RUS Telecommunications Infrastructure Loan Program. According to RUS, the loan will cover the cost of deploying 145 miles of buried fiber cable in eastern North Dakota and parts of Minnesota. “This project will complete Red River’s fiber-to-the-premises network. The upgraded system will meet current and future requirements for voice, video and high-speed data services to subscribers,” an RUS press release says.

To read the rest of this post, go to NRTC’s Rural Connect.

Energy-saving and Security Devices Driving Connected Home

According to a consumer survey conducted by Parks Associates, programmable thermostats are the number-one category of connected home devices that consumers demand, followed closely by home security devices. Twelve percent of respondents in the survey conducted in the first quarter of 2014 said they planned to purchase a programmable thermostat within the next 12 months, followed closely by those who planned to buy security devices, such as remote cameras, lighting controls, and smoke detectors.

“For right now, energy efficiency seems to be leading. I believe that thermostats are leading because of some heavy marketing efforts. There are some big, well-establish companies pushing them,” said Patrice Samuels, a research analyst at Parks Associates during a recent webcast, The Internet of Things: Impact on Support Services and Solutions. “What I think is really driving the space is the security element … the peace of mind component.”

To read the rest of this post, go to NRTC’s Rural Connect.

Where You Can See NRTC

• Sept. 3-5: NRECA Regions 1 & 4 Meeting, Indianapolis, IN
NRTC Staff will attend

• Sept. 9-10: Missouri Managers Meeting, Branson, MO
NRTC RBM Ronald Billodeaux will attend

• Sept. 9-11: NRECA Regions 5 & 6 Meeting, Minneapolis, MN
NRTC Staff will attend

• Sept. 21-24: NTCA Fall Conference, San Francisco, CA
NRTC Staff will attend

• Sept. 9-12: Texas Electric Cooperatives Engineering, Environmental & Materials Management Conferences, Austin, TX
NRTC RBM Jimmy Chandler will attend

• Sept. 23-25: NRECA Regions 2 & 3 Meeting, Jacksonville, FL
NRTC Staff will attend

• Oct. 1-2: Association of Missouri Electric Cooperatives Meeting, St. Louis, MO
NRTC RBM Ronald Billodeaux will attend

• Oct. 1-3: 2014 BroadbandVision, Las Vegas, NV
NRTC VP and Chief Technology Officer Kurt Schaubach will present and NRTC sales staff will attend

• Oct. 5-7: NeoNova University – Semester by the Sea, Charleston, SC
NRTC Vice President, Internet Services Alana Pilkington will attend

• Oct. 12-14: NTCA Northwest Regional Conference, Missoula, MT
NRTC RBM Terry Kucera will attend

• Oct. 14-16: NRECA Regions 7 & 9 Meeting, Omaha, NE
NRTC Staff will attend

• Oct. 19-21: NTCA North/Central Regional Conference, Fargo, ND
NRTC RBM Terry Kucera will attend

• Oct. 21-23: NRECA Regions 8 & 10 Meeting, Little Rock, AK
NRTC Staff will attend


See the NRTC Events page for more upcoming meetings.