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


NRTC and Industry Associations Leading Feb. 5 Electric-Telco Partnership Summit

NRTC is working with NTCA-The Rural Broadband Association and the National Rural Electric Cooperative Association (NRECA) to organize a one-day event with a timely topic – how rural electric and telephone companies can form partnerships to benefit their communities. The Electric-Telco Partnership Summit will be on Feb. 5 in Herndon, VA. Utility software companies the National Information Solutions Cooperative (NISC), Mandan, N.D., and SEDC of Atlanta, GA, will join the gathering as co-sponsors.

The organizations are offering an open invitation to general managers, CEOs, and key staff of rural electrics and telcos to attend the free event. Online registration is open now.

Featured participants will be executives who have experience with electric-telco partnerships, including Chet Aubin of Johnson County REMC, Franklin, IN; Michael Burrow, NineStar Connect, Greenfield, IN; Joe Buttweiler, Arrowhead Electric Cooperative, Lutsen, MN; Fred Johnson, Farmers Telecommunications Cooperative, Rainsville, AL, and Kevin Larson, Consolidated Telephone Cooperative, Brainerd, MN.

The summit agenda includes panel sessions covering ways to organize electric/telco partnerships; a look at how partnerships affect rural communities, and the potential regulatory issues. The speaker list includes representatives from the sponsoring organizations.

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

OATI Celebrates Industry Recognition

NRTC utility data analytics partner OATI was one of three companies named “Vendors to Watch” during the recent Rural Smart Grid Summit in Phoenix, AZ. The conference bestows the award annually to emerging companies that demonstrate advancements in smart grid technology. Judges evaluated presentations by 40 different vendors during the summit. Linda Stevens, director, Smart Grid Sales, led OATI’s presentation, which finished among the top three.

Ed Drew, NRTC VP, Utility Solutions, attended the summit along with other members of the NRTC Utility Solutions staff. “NRTC is pleased to work with one of the top vendors to watch at the Rural Smart Grid Summit,” Drew said. “It is really no surprise, as OATI’s advanced solutions are the reason why NRTC sought it out for partnership to benefit our electric cooperative members.”

Six NRTC Members Among Provisional Winners of Rural Broadband Experiment Funds

The FCC has released a list of 40 companies “provisionally” awarded shares in $100 million in funds to test broadband technologies and business plans in rural environments. The Commission used various criteria to narrow the list down from 181 entities participating in a reverse auction for the funds, which closed on Nov. 7.

Companies bid for support of experiments falling in three categories: 1). 100 Mbps downstream/25 Mbps upstream services; 2). 10 Mbps downstream/1 Mbps upstream service in high-cost areas; and 3). 10 Mbps downstream/1 Mbps upstream service in extremely high-cost areas. NRTC members among the 40 winners include:

  • Category 1 – Northeast Rural Services Inc., Vinta, OK ($1,029,274); Southwest Arkansas Telephone Cooperative, Texarkana, AR ($17,420); Valley Electric Association, Pahrump, NV ($527,326);
  • Category 2 – Allamakee-Clayton Electric Cooperative, Postville, IA ($1,453,593); Meriwether Lewis Electric Cooperative, Centerville, TN ($41,600);
  • Category 3 – Consolidated Communications, Dickinson, ND ($3,096,810).

Unlike past FCC USF support programs, non-telecom entities, such as electric cooperatives were eligible to apply for experiment funds. Four of the six NRTC-member provisional winners are electric cooperatives.

Before any of the provisional winners receive support through the program, the FCC will conduct a “post-selection review process.” The companies will have to demonstrate that they have the technical and financial capability to reach all households in their census blocks with broadband service.

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

tenKsolar Offers Quick Video Explanation for Why Its Solar Panels Excel

During NRTC’s recent webcast explaining its new Community Solar offering in cooperation with tenKsolar, Bill Simons, vice president, Business Development, explained why tenKsolar’s solar panels are beneficial to rural projects, especially in areas with bad weather: “Traditional solar panels are wired like the Christmas tree lights when I was a kid,” Simons said. “If you lose any energy going through one of those cells, whether it’s through snow or leaves or a bad cell, it blocks all the energy along that string. The entire string dies. We have ours independent so that if there is any blockage, the energy has a way to get around it.”

tenKsolar recently released this four-minute video providing more detail about its RAIS® (Redundant Array of Integrated Solar) Wave technology, which gives the solar panels their durability and efficiency. “When a single cell is damaged or shaded in a conventional panel, energy production of the entire panel suffers as current cannot flow through that point,” according to the video. With the RAIS cell-independent architecture, “any damage or shade to a single cell impacts that cell alone as current simply flows around that point and onto the grid,” tenKsolar says.
 

NRTC Collecting Voting Delegate Information Prior to 2015 Annual Meeting

In December, NRTC mailed notices to all voting-eligible members to update their voting delegate information prior to the 2015 NRTC Annual Meeting. The meeting, as usual, will be in two sessions – February 22, in conjunction with the NRECA Annual Meeting in Orlando, FL, and March 9 in conjunction with the NTCA, The Rural Broadband Association Annual Meeting in Phoenix, AZ. NRTC will hold elections for four Class A (electric cooperatives) seats on the board of directors and one Class B (telephone cooperatives) seat.

NRTC is asking members to send the name of a designated voting delegate for the annual meeting as well as an alternate delegate. It asks also that you return the form by email, fax or post to NRTC by February 13, 2015. Those who are unable to return the form before that date may bring the form to the meeting and present it at the registration desk. Members who did not receive a voting delegate form in the mail or have any other questions about the voting process should call Chris Martin at 800-995-5592 or 703-787-7288.

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

Rural Electric Cooperatives Are Having Positive Experiences With Smart Grid Technology

A survey released during the recent Rural Smart Grid Summit (RSGS) found that nearly all rural electric cooperatives are involved in some form of smart grid project and that a 70 percent majority are seeing benefits from their AMI and other smart grid projects. “2014 Rural Smart Grid Initiatives: Trends, Challenges and Opportunities,” sponsored by Honeywell, Zpryme and RSGS, also found that many companies have spent up to $1 million on smart grid technologies and intend to spend up to $5 million over the next five years. Seventy-seven rural cooperatives participated in the survey.

Study Finds Title II Reclassification Could Hit Consumer Wallets

The debate over the FCC’s effort to develop new “net neutrality” rules has evolved into a question of whether to regulate the Internet through the Commission’s Section 706 authority, through Title II regulation of the Internet as a utility (President Obama’s preference), or some combination of the two. The goal has been to protect consumers by maintaining an open Internet. But until now, there has been little discussion of what the Title II option could do to consumer bills.

“When you add it all up, [Title II] reclassification could add a whopping $17 billion in new user fees on top of the planned $1.5 billion extra to fund the E-Rate program,” according to “Outdated Regulations Will Make Consumers Pay More for Broadband,” a new report released by the Progressive Policy Institute. “The higher fees would come on top of the adverse impact on consumers of less investment and slower innovation that would result from reclassification.”

The report estimates fees that state and federal governments currently apply to Title II entities would cost wireline broadband ISPs an extra $67 a year per subscriber and wireless ISPs an extra $72 per subscriber. “History shows—and economic models of competitive markets predict—that the fees are passed along to customers, just as they are now on telecommunication services,” the report finds.

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

Solar Energy Meets the Connected Home

NRTC continues to be encouraged by reaction to its Community Solar project with tenKsolar and is actively looking for business ideas in the connected home realm. So this article in The Motley Fool, a finance and investment publication caught the eye. SunPower recently bought a $20 million share in a company called Tendril, a company that collects and analyzes consumer energy usage data. The company hopes to use this capability to better plan solar system deployments, optimize demand response technology, and help consumers strategize when to power their plug-in cars.

“SunPower isn’t going to control the smart home of the future, but it’ll be a big piece of the pie,” wrote the article’s author, Travis Hoium. “It will tie into a system [that feeds] the central controls for smart homes. It’ll feed data to these systems, and from there washing machine cycles, air conditioning, and more can be controlled based on a consumer’s desires.”

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.


© 2015 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

NRTC and Industry Associations Leading Feb. 5 Electric-Telco Partnership Summit

OATI Celebrates Industry Recognition

Six NRTC Members Among Provisional Winners of Rural Broadband Experiment Funds

tenKsolar Offers Quick Video Explanation for Why Its Solar Panels Excel

NRTC Collecting Voting Delegate Information Prior to 2015 Annual Meeting

Rural Electric Cooperatives Are Having Positive Experiences With Smart Grid Technology

Study Finds Title II Reclassification Could Hit Consumer Wallets

Solar Energy Meets the Connected Home

FCC Makes It Official: Broadband Now Begins at 10 Mbps Down

Record Bidding in AWS-3 Auction Is Good News for FirstNets

EVs Are the Most Environmentally Friendly Transportation … and the Most Environmentally Unfriendly

New DirecTV Satellite Will Deliver 4K Images

Where You Can See NRTC

In Brief

FCC Makes It Official: Broadband Now Begins at 10 Mbps Down

The FCC has been studying the matter for most of the year and during its December monthly agenda meeting, adopted an order setting the minimum Internet speeds for companies seeking Connect America Fund (CAF) support to 10 megabits per second (Mbps) downstream and 1 Mbps upstream. It is the first time the Commission had changed the broadband definition since 2011, when it set the standard at 4 Mbps down/1 Mbps up. The FCC made the change to conform to a Congressional directive to support broadband speeds in rural areas that are “reasonably comparable” to typical urban service. The FCC had already gone far down the road toward raising the benchmark an earlier when it awarded funds from CAF to companies developing rural broadband experiments at 10/1 and 100/25.

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

Record Bidding in AWS-3 Auction Is Good News for FirstNets

The original plan for the FirstNet project to create a nationwide, interoperable, wireless broadband network for first responders was that $7 billion in funding was to come from the federal government. Revenue generated by FCC spectrum auctions was to be the source of the funds. Most expected the bulk of that funding to come from the auction of 600 MHz spectrum in the “Broadcast Incentive Auction.” But the surprisingly strong bidding in the current Advanced Wireless Systems (AWS-3) auction is changing all the scenarios. According to newsletter Communications Daily, “the AWS-3 auction should easily pay the $7 billion startup costs of FirstNet.”

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

EVs Are the Most Environmentally Friendly Transportation … and the Most Environmentally Unfriendly

As panelists at the recent Sensus Utility Conference demonstrated, advanced grid communications and analytics technologies are a major component of the overall concept of the “smart city.” As cities deploy electric smart meters, they are finding ways to apply similar technologies to other city services, including water and sewer management, traffic control and emergency preparedness. The MIT Technology Review at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology recently posted a list of smart city case studies that gives a closer look at the coordinated activities.

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

New DirecTV Satellite Will Deliver 4K Images

Progress toward eventual widespread consumer access to 4K/Ultra-HDTV service continued when the DirecTV-14 satellite launched from the European Spaceport in Kourou, French Guiana last month. DirecTV plans to use the new satellite to beam Ultra-HD for some national networks as well as augment the carrier’s capacity to deliver conventional HDTV in some local markets. DirecTV-14 is to be operational by mid-2015. Soon afterward, DirecTV-15, set for launch in early 2015, will go into operation providing additional 4K capacity, according to Multichannel News.

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

Where You Can See NRTC

• Jan. 4-6: 2015 Wireless Symposium & WiExpo, Las Vegas, NV
NRTC staff will attend

• Jan. 11-13: NRECA CEO Close-up, St. Petersburg, FL
CEO Tim Bryan and Chief Marketing Officer Greg Santoro will attend

• Jan. 20-22: NRECA New Directors Orientation, Arlington, VA
NRTC staff will attend

• Feb. 5: Electric-Telco Partnership Summit, Herndon, VA
NRTC CEO Tim Bryan and NRTC staff will attend

• Feb. 8-10: NTCA Telecom Executive Forum, Fort Lauderdale, FL
NRTC staff will attend

• Feb. 19-27: NRECA Annual Meeting and TechAdvantage Expo, Orlando, FL
NRTC staff will attend

• Feb. 22: NRTC Annual Meeting for electric cooperative members, Orlando, FL
NRTC staff will attend

• Feb. 23: 2015 Clevest User Group Meeting, Orlando, FL
NRTC staff will attend

• March 8-11: RTIME Conference and Expo, Phoenix, AZ
NRTC staff will attend

• March 9: NRTC Annual Meeting for telephone company members, Phoenix, AZ
NRTC staff will attend


See the NRTC Events page for more upcoming meetings.