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

Taking the Electric-Telco Partnership Topic to IP Possibilities

NRTC and NTCA, the Rural Broadband Association got something started on Feb. 5 when they hosted the Electric-Telco Partnership Summit in cooperation with NRECA, NISC, and SEDC. Now, NRTC and NTCA hope to continue the discussion in Denver during the upcoming IP Possibilities Conference and Expo, April 14-16.

The two groups have worked together to develop the conference agenda and have included two sessions aimed at electric co-ops investigating partnership opportunities:

  • Utilities Need Broadband. Telcos and electrics learn about the emerging trends in utility communications and how they can pursue this opportunity in their service territories.
  • Reach More Customers Through Partnerships. A review of past successful telco partnerships with local utilities.

NTCA is registering electric providers and telcos interested in attending at www.BuildIPNow.com. NTCA says that registration has surpassed the 2014 IP Possibilities with two weeks to go. Electric/telco partnership discussions certainly could be a reason for heightened interest.

For more information, view YouTube video “Let’s Carry This Conversation to Denver.”

NRTC Annual Meeting Ends With Jeff Wilson’s Reelection to the Board

NRTC held the second part of its two-part annual meeting on March 9 with a luncheon in Phoenix, AZ, the site of NTCA’s Rural Telecom Industry Meeting & Expo (RTIME). The main business of the meeting was to reelect Jeff Wilson, CEO and general manager of West Carolina Rural Telephone Cooperative, Abbeville, SC, to another three-year term on the board. Wilson holds an at-large District 12 seat serving all NRTC telco members.

Telispire Talks Rural LTE at RTIME

This spring, Telispire, NRTC’s mobile virtual network aggregator/enabler/operator (MVNA/E/O), is adding a 4G LTE carrier service to its many options. Telispire reseller members have been requesting LTE capability as a service to bundle with their current telecom and video services.

The Rural Telecom Industry Meeting & Expo (RTIME) in Phoenix, last month was the perfect opportunity for NRTC members to discuss the Telispire program and how it can expand their growth potential. The launch of 4G LTE will expand the availability of handsets, such as the iPhone 5, for member resellers. Telispire has taken steps to provide resellers with 3G-enabled/4G-ready devices prior to LTE launch.

Telispire’s highly flexible turnkey solution enables rural companies to select from a robust suite of services, including 4G LTE, to meet business-critical needs. This flexibility, combined with a dedicated team of telecommunication professionals, supports a nationwide wireless product that will enhance revenues and profitability through a postpaid, prepaid, or a machine-to-machine offering.

NRTC members can learn more about the LTE opportunity during the upcoming Telispire Forum in Nashville, TN, on May 21-22. Telispire will soon provide registration information on its web site.

NRTC and Clevest Begin Joint Effort to Improve Co-op Mutual Aid Coordination

Hurricanes … tornadoes … blizzards … thunderstorms. Every electric co-op has some reason to keep an eye on the weather report and be ready send out work crews when disaster strikes. Cooperatives naturally want to help neighboring electric providers when such emergencies arise. Guest field crews show up ready to work.

That is why NRTC and Clevest are teaming up to establish the National Mutual Aid Registry (NMAR), an online solution to assist rural electric cooperatives and statewide associations to coordinate resources when time really matters. The new program will provide a real-time way to request guest crews and monitor and manage them together with local co-op crews during outage events.

 

NMAR is still very much a work in progress. NRTC and Clevest welcome industry input. Electric distribution cooperative and statewide association representatives can learn more by joining the NMAR LinkedIn group at www.nrtc.coop/NMAR and clicking on the yellow “Join” button in the upper right corner.

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

Is it White and Gold? Ergen Says Sling TV Offering Is a Mobile TV Service

By Mark Chambers, NRTC Director of Sales for Telecom Products

As the headline news and Twitter-verse contemplates the question du jour, quietly the Sling TV message seems to be changing direction.

The Diffusion Group’s piece on Sling TV shares Ergen’s latest commentary about the service and how Dish is evolving the market positioning: “During a recent financial call, Dish’s CEO Charlie Ergen made a point of highlighting that his company’s new Sling TV offering is a mobile TV service; that it’s not meant to be a substitute for home pay-tv services the way, say, Sony’s new Vue will be.”

First, the move to say it’s a mobile TV service makes it clear that Dish is not trying to undermine its traditional linear business or revenue stream. Second, Dish initially expected the demographic to be urban millennial cord cutters. Industry evidence of Sling TV’s content shows a median viewing age in the mid 40’s. Third, initial product surveys show a lack of awareness in the millennial demographic. This quote from Fierce Online Video stated:

“Consumer reaction to Sling TV news on social media seems a bit tepid, and that may be to an awareness problem, Variety and Multichannel News reported. A survey conducted between Jan. 26 and Feb. 1 by Ipsos MediaCT of 2,871 consumers found that just 11 percent were aware of Sling TV, and 67 percent of those in the survey group between the ages of 18 and 34 said they weren’t interested in the service.”

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

Net Neutrality Text Is Out; Let the Fine-Tooth Combing Begin

The many entities that have pledged to challenge the FCC’s recent net neutrality order that reclassifies the Internet as a Title II telecommunication service have plenty of reading material. Two weeks after adopting the order, the Commission released the full text of the 313-page order.

For Internet providers it is a chance to find out exactly how the “reasonable network management” rules in the order will affect them. Opponents planning legal action will now scour the text for openings for an appeal. The FCC still must announce an effective date for the order in an announcement to be published in the Federal Register, so the real changes will not happen for several weeks or perhaps longer if the courts stay the effects of the order during an appeal.

CNET Magazine quoted Ralph de la Vega, CEO of ATT’s Business and Mobility Division as saying, “Until everybody reads the fine print and understands it, you won’t really be able comment in detail … I plan to read [the regulations] cover to cover.”

Read additional net neutrality coverage:

Preemption Order Expands Municipal Broadband in Some States … Probably Stalls Municipal Broadband in Other States

At the same time it adopted its order reclassifying the Internet as Title II telecommunications, the FCC also adopted an order to preempt state laws in Tennessee and North Carolina. Municipal electric broadband providers there now have the authority to expand outside their electric service areas without regard to state laws prohibiting it. Like the reclassification debate, there was a contentious party-line dispute among the commissioners over the limits of federal authority.

The Commission based its authority to preempt on Section 706 of the Telecommunications Act of 1996, which gives the FCC broad powers to promote broadband growth if access is not growing “in a reasonable and timely fashion.” The order finds that allowing the municipalities to expand their reaches into unserved and underserved areas was in the public interest.

The order does not affect states that block all municipal broadband services, but only two specific states that had granted limited broadband service. Thus, states that consider allowing limited authority in the future now might be more inclined to continue total municipal bans to avoid FCC review.

Commissioner Ajit Pai began his opposition of the order by noting that the Tennessee law the FCC preempted was a bipartisan measure passed unanimously by both houses of a Democratic-controlled legislature and signed by a Republican governor.

But most of Pai’s argument focused on the use of Section 706 to justify preemption. He noted that Section 706 does not make a “plain statement” giving the FCC preemption authority. “In the case of Gregory v. Ashcroft, the Supreme Court held that if Congress wishes to allow the federal government to preempt states’ constitutional powers, it must make its intent unmistakably clear,” Pai said.

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.


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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

Taking the Electric-Telco Partnership Topic to IP Possibilities

NRTC Annual Meeting Ends With Jeff Wilson’s Reelection to the Board

Telispire Talks Rural LTE at RTIME

NRTC and Clevest Begin Joint Effort to Improve Co-op Mutual Aid Coordination

Is it White and Gold? Ergen Says Sling TV Offering Is a Mobile TV Service

Net Neutrality Text Is Out; Let the Fine-Tooth Combing Begin

Preemption Order Expands Municipal Broadband in Some States … Probably Stalls Municipal Broadband in Other States

ViaSat Acquisition Could Improve Satellite Data Rates and Cybersecurity

President Forms Broadband Opportunity Council

Connected Devices Are Rapidly Building Smart Cities

Hey! Who Needs Henry Kissinger?

Where You Can See NRTC

In Brief

ViaSat Acquisition Could Improve Satellite Data Rates and Cybersecurity

ViaSat, parent company of the Exede satellite Internet service, recently announced the acquisition of EAI Design Services LLC, a microprocessor company that specializes in technologies to improve IP networking and cybersecurity. EAI Design has developed a series of chips that allow for operations at 100 gigabits per second. ViaSat says it intends to apply the EAI Design technologies to its satellite products.

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

President Forms Broadband Opportunity Council

President Barack Obama is anxious to get several branches of the government other than the FCC involved in Internet governance. On March 24, he signed an executive order creating the Broadband Opportunity Council, an inter-agency federal group to explore other potential government actions. The secretaries of Commerce and Agriculture will lead the council which is also to include representatives from 25 other federal agencies. The order calls for the council to investigate ways that the government can “better support” industry entities making investments in broadband. It also directs the group to seek out regulatory barriers to broadband growth, competition, and adoption.

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

Connected Devices Are Rapidly Building Smart Cities

Several technology publications are reporting a Gartner Inc. statistic that municipalities and businesses will have deployed 1.1 billion “smart city” devices by the end of 2015 and that the number of devices will grow to 9.7 billion by 2020. If the concept of a smart city seems futuristic, the truth is that smart cities are in existence now and growing fast. NRTC’s AMI partner, Sensus, is among the companies that are seeking to participate in smart city growth with its recently introduced VantagePoint LED lighting system. Other connected devices Gartner includes in its growth estimates are healthcare monitoring systems, home security technologies, such as smart locks, and systems to automate transportation systems.

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

Hey! Who Needs Henry Kissinger?

FCC Chairman Tom Wheeler in recent testimony before the Senate Commerce Committee complained that the Commission has been unable to make progress toward a rural broadband component to the Connect America Fund. “Getting accord amongst [rate-of-return RLECs] as to the best way to help them do their job is worthy of Henry Kissinger. I hope we can have the help of … the Committee to help send a message that it is time to quit bickering over details,” he said. Besides being amused by the comparison to Henry Kissinger, NTCA CEO Shirley Bloomfield responded by saying that NTCA and rural groups such as WTA, ERTA and NECA have actually spoken with one voice on the CAF issue.

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

Where You Can See NRTC

• April 14-16: IP Possibilities Conference & Expo, Denver, CO
NRTC staff will attend

• April 21-23: Alabama Rural Electric Cooperatives Statewide Meeting, Montgomery, AL
NRTC RBM Ronnie Billodeaux will attend

• May 12-15: NRECA Connect Conference, Minneapolis, MN
NRTC VP, Member and Industry Relations Chris Martin and Sales and Marketing Manager Matt Timmons will attend

• May 18-20: Tennessee Valley Public Power Association Annual Meeting, Chattanooga TN
NRTC RBM Ronnie Billodeaux will attend

• May 21-22: Telispire Forum, Nashville, TN
NRTC staff will attend


See the NRTC Events page for more upcoming meetings.