NRTC home

NRTConnects



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


Randy Houdek Elected NRTC’s New Board Chairman

In a meeting shortly after the NRTC Annual Meeting in Nashville, the NRTC Board of Directors elected Randy Houdek, general manager, Venture Communications Cooperative, Highmore, SD, chairman of the NRTC Board, succeeding Luis Reyes of Kit Carson Electric Cooperative, Inc., Taos, NM. Reyes remains on the board as Voting District No. 10 representative. Houdek formerly served as vice chairman and was re-elected to the board at the telephone session of the NRTC Annual Meeting in early February.

Board Secretary-Treasurer Gene Dorrel, of United Electric Cooperative, Inc., Maryville, MO, succeeds Houdek as NRTC vice chairman. Jeff Wilson from West Carolina Rural Telephone Cooperative, Abbeville, SC, joins the board officers as secretary-treasurer.

Houdek’s first board meeting as chairman will be in June when he will welcome new board members elected during the 2014 annual meeting: George Kitchens general Manager and CEO of Joe Wheeler Electric Membership Corp., Trinity, AL, serving District No. 3, and NTCA—The Rural Broadband Association’s Shirley Bloomfield, who represents the newly created Voting District No. 13.

Nest Could Be Google’s Pathway to the Connected Home

Ever since Google purchased Nest Labs in January for $3.2 billion, there has been constant speculation about why. No matter how good Nest’s technology for its smart thermostats might be, was it really worth $3.2 billion?

The best answer seems to be that the smart grid is growing to prominence at the same time that companies are investing in the “connected home.” In short, the Nest technology appears to have the capability to gather more information about home energy consumption from more devices in the home at less cost and complexity.

Smart grid and the connected home are both at the center of NRTC’s plans for future product development.

“If you’re looking for the next big thing, it’s connected home … All kinds of devices are going to be connected to networks,” said NRTC CEO Tim Bryan during the recent NRTC Annual Meeting for electric cooperatives in Nashville. “Google bought Nest for $3.2 billion … A thermostat maker just got sold for $3.2 billion because they are able to provide an easy interface experience for customers.”

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

NRTC Reveals the Steps to Starting TV Everywhere Service

The trend toward watching TV on any screen, including smart phones and tablets while on the move, continues to grow. A rural cable or IPTV provider has to be aware of the trend. Chances are that customers, especially the best customers, already are beginning to demand TV Everywhere services.

TV Everywhere is when major nation TV networks make their programming available over broadband Internet to customers who subscribe to a multichannel TV service. NRTC offers MyTimeTV, its own version of TV Everywhere, to its IPTV members as well as all other members who offer some form of subscription video.

“You have to know who your subscribers are,” said Madeleine Forrer, NRTC’s vice president, Video Services during a webcast hosted by NTCA—The Rural Broadband Association. “An HBO subscriber is already paying for a significant number of services and is probably one of your best customers. Do you want to say ‘no’ to them on a service that is as low-cost as this is?”

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

 

Nothing Worse Than Burned Popcorn

Call it a flash in the pan or perhaps a pop in the microwave, but Popcorn Time is no more.

Popcorn Time was an online movie service that started up in February and had immediate success. There was one problem … Its content was all pirated.

“That’s one for the record books,” says Madeleine Forrer, NRTC’s vice president, Video Services. “Really? They were surprised?”

Of course, NRTC members who take advantage of NRTC’s MyTimeTV platform can distribute online movies from HBO and Cinemax as well as TV programming from 25 major networks and it’s all absolutely, without question, legal. Seems like the safer way to go.

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

Co-Mo Electric Announces Plans for Gigabit Service During FCC Rural Broadband Workshop

Co-Mo Electric Cooperative of Missouri says that it plans to begin providing gigabit broadband service to its rural electric customers starting this month. The cooperative is in the middle of building out fiber-to-the-home (FTTH) service to all of its members and, according to Randy Klindt, general manager of the co-op’s broadband subsidiary, Co-Mo Comm Inc., has just begun phase II of that build-out.

“Not just residences, but small businesses and schools will have access to gigabit services. Schools will have access to gigabit for less than the price of a T1,” Klindt said. He made the announcement during the Federal Communications Commission’s Rural Broadband Workshop last month at FCC headquarters in Washington, DC.

FTTH, especially gigabit FTTH services, are rare in any community. Google made headlines a year ago with its plans to build such services in metropolitan areas. There have been only a handful of gigabit projects announced for rural areas. Co-Mo’s may be the first by a rural electric cooperative.

Klindt appeared on a workshop panel of eight representatives that have experience with providing broadband to remote areas. His presentation included an update of Co-Mo’s efforts to build out FTTH, which has been gaining significant attention among rural electric companies in recent months.

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

Also see:

OATI Tracks the Demand Management Trends for G&Ts and Distribution Co-ops

There are three major trends for generation and transmission (G&T) utilities seeking to improve demand management coordination with distribution cooperatives, according to Open Access Technology International, Inc. (OATI), NRTC’s partner specializing in advanced metering software. OATI and NRTC co-hosted a webinar to review these trends.

“NRTC is really excited about the end-to-end integration. It gives the G&T visibility into what the resources are at the distribution cooperative level,” said Ed Drew, NRTC’s vice president, Utilities Solutions, who participated in the webinar.

The first trend that OATI spotlighted was G&Ts’ desire to use data from an ever growing number of smart meters, SCADA and other sources to its greatest advantage. A certain amount of inefficiency naturally creeps in when utilities begin relying on multiple technologies. A demand management platform can do much to turn around inefficiency and create efficiencies. Forecasting energy needs based on real time data from generation to transmission, for example, is a major advancement.

Walter Kalsow, OATI’s principal consultant, Smart Energy Solutions, said that Tennessee Valley Authority/Tennessee Valley Public Power Association used the technology to improve overall reliability this winter when dealing with generation problems. “This particular capability proved exceptionally valuable here in January during the extraordinarily cold weather – the so-called polar vortex. In response to market-driven events, TVPPA was able to curtail load requests on TVA’s request and they actually made some money using DR in a real world situation,” he said.

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

FirstNet Board Agrees to a Roadmap for a Long Road

The First Responder Network Authority (FirstNet) has already been in place for more than 18 months, but its task of building a nationwide, interoperable LTE network for emergency organizations is still in the early stages. The FirstNet board agreed last month on a “roadmap” that summarizes its next steps to develop national and state business plans.

“We have studied and analyzed various approaches to deploying the network, including a stand-alone build and public-private arrangements,” the board said in a statement read by Bill D’Agostino, FirstNet’s general manager. “If we can realize the assumptions that we have within our financial models, we believe that we will have a business plan that offers important value to public safety and is sustainable.”

The group decided that a series of public-private arrangements involving existing carriers would be the viable answer. The FirstNet Board hopes to ultimately have $7 billion to work with through the proceeds from FCC spectrum auctions, the first of which ended on Feb. 28 to contribute the first $1 billion. It also has control of a nationwide license dedicated to the public safety network. Agreements with private carriers and state governments must fill in any gaps in FirstNet resources.

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

Randy Houdek Elected NRTC’s New Board Chairman

Nest Could Be Google’s Pathway to the Connected Home

NRTC Reveals the Steps to Starting TV Everywhere Service

Nothing Worse Than Burned Popcorn

Co-Mo Electric Announces Plans for Gigabit Service During FCC Rural Broadband Workshop

OATI Tracks the Demand Management Trends for G&Ts and Distribution Co-ops

FirstNet Board Agrees to a Roadmap for a Long Road

GAO Report Finds That Federal Government Programs Have Advanced Broadband Access

AT&T to Conduct Rural IP Transition Experiments in Alabama

FaceBook Said to Be Considering Drone Approach to Remote Internet

Where You Can See NRTC

In Brief

GAO Report Finds That Federal Government Programs Have Advanced Broadband Access

If you’ve ever wondered whether the billions of dollars the federal government spends to spread broadband Internet availability to all Americans is actually effective, the Government Accountability Office (GAO) – a federal government agency – thinks it is.

GAO released Federal Broadband Deployment Programs and Small Business, a report that concludes: “Service providers have used federal funding for expansions and upgrades, such as building out to previously unserved areas and replacing old copper lines with fiber optic cable, resulting in faster and more reliable broadband connections.”

The study examined the effects of all federal grant and loan programs to promote broadband since 2008, including two temporary programs created by the 2009 Recovery Act – the Commerce Department’s Broadband Technology Opportunities Program and U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Broadband Initiatives Program. It also looked at ongoing programs, such as USDA’s Broadband Loan Program and the FCC’s Connect America Fund.

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

AT&T to Conduct Rural IP Transition Experiments in Alabama

AT&T has submitted a plan for experimenting on what is likely to happen during the transition from circuit switched telephony to all Internet protocol (IP) communications. The plan is part of the FCC’s proceeding to begin preparing for technical and regulatory changes during the IP transition. So far, the Commission also has received a plan from Iowa Network Services (INS).

The company says it will operate from two test sites. Experiments in Palm Beach County, FL, will reveal data on what to expect during the transition in a suburban environment. A second set of tests will be in rural Carbon Hill, AL. AT&T says the Carbon Hill tests will include 4,388 homes and businesses, including units that are empty and some that are still under construction.

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

FaceBook Said to Be Considering Drone Approach to Remote Internet

The Wall Street Journal and trade publications are reporting that social media company FaceBook is considering the acquisition of start-up Titan Aerospace, a drone manufacturing company. Drones at high altitude could transmit broadband Internet service to remote areas.

According to Titan Aerospace, its SOLARA drones could carry radio frequency repeaters that would send and receive terrestrial voice and data signals similar to satellite transponders. The solar-powered drones would be able to stay aloft relaying signals for several years before requiring replacement. It is unclear, however, how fast the drone-transmitted data rates would be.

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

Where You Can See NRTC

• April 8-11: Michigan Electric Cooperative Association Power Symposium, Grand Rapids, MI
NRTC RBM Mark Davis will attend

• April 15-17: 2014 IP Possibilities Conference & Expo, Kansas City, MO
NRTC staff will attend

• April 22-23: Kentucky Association of Electric Cooperatives Spring Managers Meeting, Bowling Green, KY
NRTC CEO Tim Bryan will present; RBM Mark Davis will attend

• April 29-30-17: 2014 Telispire Forum, Fort Worth, TX
NRTC staff will attend

• May 14-16: Northeast Association of Electric Cooperatives Annual Meeting, North Conway, NH
NRTC RBM Jay Smith will attend

• May 28-30: New Mexico Rural Electric Cooperative Association Annual Meeting, Santa Fe, NM
NRTC RBM Fred Grantham will attend


See the NRTC Events page for more upcoming meetings.