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


Nebraska Telco Teams With Nonprofit to Provide Exede Broadband to Tornado-Struck Town

Local officials estimate it could take months to recover from the damage to Beaver Crossing, NE, after a tornado leveled much of the town of 400 on May 11. Fortunately, citizens and relief crews in the town have a broadband connection to the outside world thanks to Exede equipment and service donated by NRTC member Diode Communications/Diller Telephone Co., Diller, NE.

There’s an Exede dish installed on the side of the American Legion Building (pictured), one of the few structures in town that remains intact. The satellite Internet service feeds a Wi-Fi router for the benefit of relief workers and local residents alike.

“We’re going to leave it there for as long as they need it,” said Larry Chambers, Diode’s manager in charge of satellite TV and broadband, who took charge of the project. “I’m monitoring that account on a daily basis. If they’re running close to their data limit we’ll add some more on to make sure that they’re not cut off … as of yesterday [May 29], they’d used 7 MB since we put it in.”

It was a Level 3 tornado on the Enhanced Fukita Scale, with winds at about 125-140 miles per hour. It hit at 5:30 p.m. on a Sunday. According to media reports, hundreds of relief workers poured into the town to assist. Team Rubicon, a group of military veterans and volunteer medical professionals, was among the nonprofit groups that arrived. Another group, Disaster Tech Lab, with offices near Galway, Ireland, and Oklahoma City, also lent a hand.

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

For Second Straight Year Exede Outperforms All Other ISPs in Reaching Advertised Speed

Every day, consumers see advertisements from Internet service providers promising high downstream speeds at affordable monthly rates. But how often do those ISPs deliver on what they promise? According to the FCC’s 2014 Measuring Broadband America Fixed Broadband Report, Exede satellite broadband service not only delivers what it promises, it typically delivers much more. In fact, the service many rural providers offer through NRTC ranked number-one in the FCC’s report for the second year in a row.

“Average peak period download speeds per ISP varied from a high of 139 percent of advertised speed (ViaSat/Exede) to a low of 83 percent of advertised speed (Verizon DSL). These results are largely consistent with the February 2013 Reports,” the report concludes.

The results of the 2014 report are based on online speed measurements the FCC gathered during a September 2013 test window, just as the previous report in February 2013 were based on September 2012 tests. The results show that Exede performance actually improved slightly from the previous report.

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

Complete the NRTC Member Survey to Help Guide our Strategic Board Session

The general manager or CEO of every NRTC member should have received an invitation from their NRTC Board representative on June 17 to participate in a brief, NRTC member survey. This August, at our annual strategic session, the NRTC board will review the results and help determine the future of NRTC.

As a bonus, for every completed survey response, NRTC will donate $20 to the Wounded Warriors Fund. We’re also offering several other rewards, depending upon the level on member response.

Members have until Friday, July 25, to complete the survey.

Member input is vital to helping NRTC ensure that we’re doing everything we can to fulfill our mission on behalf of the members. If you haven’t received an invitation to complete the survey, email us at communications@nrtc.coop, and we’ll be sure to get you one.

Solar Interest Growing From the Grassroots

NRTC RBM Mark Davis was on hand on June 3 to take this picture of Donnis Mizelle, Jr., CEO of Hendricks County Rural Electric Membership Corp., Avon, IN, standing next to a solar panel. The occasion was the first installation of a community solar project by an electric utility in the state of Indiana. Hendricks County REMC and NRTC partner tenKsolar completed the project together.

Member interest in solar technology is high. NRTC is hearing that various communities are demanding solar generation and that distribution cooperatives are looking for opportunities to work with G&Ts. Regulators in some states also are putting pressure on electric utilities to use renewable energy sources.

As NRTC VP, Utilities Solutions, Ed Drew says, “NRTC has the capability to put a full package together, not only the panels and hardware for solar. Working with our members to find the right location and right design to put it out, we can actually add the communications components and the centralized software to monitor control the power generated by the solar panels in the field.”

Drew notes that NRTC has the extensive project management experience and relationships with companies like OATI that have to tools to manage distributed generation.

NRTC has prepared this short video to describe its solar activities in 2014.

Verdeeco Webcasts Cover the Full Depth of Utility Analytics

NRTC recently hosted a pair of webcasts for its members to introduce Verdeeco, the utility data analytics company that takes AMI data, integrates it with GIS, CIS and several other data sources, and breaks it all into more than a dozen different applications to further everyday operations and future planning. NRTC recently became a Verdeeco distributor.

Without the correct tools, “it is very difficult to access the silos of data and information that exist within utilities walls,” said Verdeeco CEO Brian Crow, who led the presentation. “We started Verdeeco to bridge that gap for utilities … provide a platform to help manage all the data coming in as well as merge data from other systems within the utility.”

The presentation featured specifics about several of the applications. For example, the Verdeeco system includes an “alarm dashboard.” “One of the issues that a number of utilities told us early on was that in deploying new AMI technology, the new meters that were out there were able to send back a massive amount of alarm data. Utilities were having a hard time managing all of that data in order to draw good information out of it.” The applications keeps track of several different types of alarms on the grid, such as meter read failures, remote disconnect failures and potential tampering on the line.

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

NTCA Says Rural Telcos Remain Wary of Broadband Investments

NTCA – The Rural Broadband Association recently released the results of its latest annual member survey tracking rural telcos’ deployment of broadband technologies. All respondents to the survey said they were providing some form of broadband to their customers and a rapidly increasing number of them said they were offering fiber-based service.

At the same time, however, NTCA cautioned that regulatory uncertainty threatens future investment in broadband technologies. “While the future regulatory picture has become somewhat less murky with the elimination of the Quantile Regression Analysis [QRA], the future is still far from certain. It still remains unclear, for example, what will ultimately take the place of the QRA,” the report concludes. “Absent some sense of predictability, small carriers will be loath to commit precious capital resources to long-term projects, and lenders will not be willing to make loans when payback cannot be satisfactorily guaranteed.”

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

NRTC Members Use Exede to Augment (and Sometimes Replace) Wireless Internet Solutions

By Matthew Timmons, NRTC Sales and Marketing Manager

NRTC members are using Exede to help fill broadband gaps where competitors, both large and small, struggle to cost justify 100 percent coverage to rural residents.

Lismore Cooperative Telephone Co. in Lismore, MN, recently had a grand opportunity to provide an Exede Internet solution to its rural residents. When Verizon decided to shut down its ClearWave fixed wireless solution, the folks at Lismore jumped into action. ClearWave covered significant territory in Western Minnesota, overlapping Lismore territory. Lismore quickly got the word out promoting Exede as a viable and often superior alternative compared to ClearWave.

Since Jan. 1, 2014, Lismore has been offering both Exede and Verizon’s Home Fusion, its fixed wireless replacement product for ClearWave. It decided to give its members a choice, noting that Exede has some clear advantages. For example, the telco says that Exede customer service surpasses Home Fusion’s. To date, more than 100 former ClearWave customers have chosen Exede.

In addition to NRTC members putting themselves in position to take of advantage of changes in the marketplace, some members are bringing Exede into their suite of offerings to either augment or replace their own wireless Internet solutions.

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

Broadband Providers May Have an Edge in Race for Local TV Channels on Mobile Devices

NRTC’s subsidiary, NeoNova has attracted a lot of attention with its recently announced YourStream TV. Rural telcos offering cable or IPTV like it because it is a cost-effective way to offer local broadcast TV signals online in remote areas where cable and IPTV are not economical. But another major benefit is that broadband providers, with the help of the Roku mobile app, could begin offering those same local signals to smart phones and tablet computers.

You might wonder: why don’t the local broadcasters themselves transmit their signals to mobile devices? They already transmit wirelessly.

The reason is that the current digital TV transmission standard does not support mobile transmissions and the broadcast industry has not yet agreed upon a new standard that works on both small and large screens. The Advanced Television Systems Committee (ATSC), which developed the current digital standard, wants to introduce mobility into its ATSC 3.0 standard, but its ability to meet the task appears to be in some doubt.

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
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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

Nebraska Telco Teams With Nonprofit to Provide Exede Broadband to Tornado-Struck Town

For Second Straight Year Exede Outperforms All Other ISPs in Reaching Advertised Speed

Complete the NRTC Member Survey to Help Guide our Strategic Board Session

Solar Interest Growing From the Grassroots

Verdeeco Webcasts Cover the Full Depth of Utility Analytics

NTCA Says Rural Telcos Remain Wary of Broadband Investments

NRTC Members Use Exede to Augment (and Sometimes Replace) Wireless Internet Solutions

Broadband Providers May Have an Edge in Race for Local TV Channels on Mobile Devices

Tenth Circuit Preserves USF/ICC Reforms

ViaSat Acquires Wi-Fi Technology Company NetNearU

RUS Funding Bill Suggests FSO as a Rural Broadband Solution

Commissioner Pai Says E-Rate “Isn’t Meeting the Needs of Rural America”

Chairman Sam Ginn to Step Down From FirstNet Board

Where You Can See NRTC

In Brief

Tenth Circuit Preserves USF/ICC Reforms

Rural telcos lost in court last month when the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Tenth Circuit in Denver turned back challenges to the FCC’s October 2011 reform of the universal service and intercarrier compensation rules. The new rules changed the focus of universal service away from maintenance of landline voice services toward establishing broadband services in unserved rural areas. A significant amount of funding that had gone into the universal service High Cost Fund was diverted to the Connect America Fund (CAF).

NTCA, the Rural Broadband Association, was disappointed by the ruling. In a statement, NTCA CEO Shirley Bloomfield said rural telcos, “will now look to address [unresolved issues] through further engagement and potential course corrections in ongoing conversations with the FCC and Congress.”

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

ViaSat Acquires Wi-Fi Technology Company NetNearU

ViaSat, NRTC’s satellite broadband partner through its Exede service, has acquired NetNearU Corp., a Wi-Fi systems provider that specializes in “Wi-Fi management systems” for businesses. Among NetNearU’s partners are communications companies like Comcast, Time Warner, Sprint, and Cablevision. It also has hotels, airlines, universities and other large enterprise clients on the list.

The company works with communications-industry partners to provide a turnkey package of Wi-Fi equipment and software tools to integrate Wi-Fi into any business’s operations.

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

RUS Funding Bill Suggests FSO as a Rural Broadband Solution

Senate Appropriations Agriculture Subcommittee Chairman Mark Pryor (D-AR) has introduced a bill (S. 2389) to fund the U.S. Department of Agriculture, including Rural Utilities Service (RUS) grant and low-cost loan programs for rural broadband. The bill includes a somewhat unusual statement: “The Secretary [of Agriculture] is encouraged to promote development and demonstrate innovative connectivity solutions such as providing high-speed Internet via optical laser beams in free space, which help connect rural America without broadband infrastructure costs and where wireless coverage does not exist.”

Free-space optical (FSO) is a technology that has been around for a number of years. It involves transmission of very large amounts of data over laser beams wirelessly rather than over fiber optic glass lines.

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

Commissioner Pai Says E-Rate “Isn’t Meeting the Needs of Rural America”

In February, as the FCC was doubling its annual spending for the next two years for the universal service Schools and Libraries Fund, more popularly known as the “E-Rate,” Commissioner Ajit Pai was among the voices complaining that the support from the program was not reaching the rural areas that need it the most. After concluding a tour or a high school in Sioux City, SD, last month, Pai released a statement calling for “real reform.” “In sum, the E-Rate program just isn’t meeting the needs of rural America,” he said.

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

Chairman Sam Ginn to Step Down From FirstNet Board

Sam Ginn, the first chairman of the First Responder Network Authority (FirstNet), has decided to step down from the FirstNet board when his term ends in August of this year. Secretary of Commerce Penny Pritzker already has named board member Susan Swenson, former president and CEO of Sage North America, to be chairwoman. FirstNet is an organization created by Congress to direct the construction a nationwide, interactive wireless broadband network for emergency first responders.

“Sam came out of retirement to serve his country and bring an entrepreneurial spirit to FirstNet; he led the building of the organization from scratch and instituted a culture that embraces innovation and partnerships with the public safety community,” Swenson said in a statement.

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

Where You Can See NRTC

•July 20-23: Alabama Rural Electric Association Meeting, Point Clear, AL
NRTC RBM Ronald Billodeaux will attend

•July 27-29: Association of Louisiana Electric Cooperatives Annual Meeting, Baton Rouge, LA
NRTC RBM Ronald Billodeaux will attend

•Aug. 1: Florida Electric Cooperative Association Meeting, Tallahassee, FL
NRTC RBM Ronald Billodeaux will attend

•Aug. 3-6: Texas Electric Cooperatives 74th Annual Meeting, Galveston, TX
NRTC RBM Jimmy Chandler will attend


See the NRTC Events page for more upcoming meetings.