NRTC home

NRTConnects



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

NRTC Expands Solar Efforts With SoCore Energy Agreement

NRTC has reached a Master Representative and Marketing Agreement with SoCore Energy, one of the leading solar technology providers, to assist in developing solar energy projects for rural electric cooperatives. NRTC has provided support for community solar projects over the past year working with tenKsolar. With the SoCore agreement, NRTC is now ready to assist at all levels of solar development, including utility-scale projects.

“We researched several solar developers and we chose SoCore because of its experience and skill in developing multi-scale systems increasingly relevant to cooperatives,” said CEO Tim Bryan in a letter to NRTC members. “We expect that an alliance with a developer of SoCore’s reputation on an exclusive basis will give us a competitive edge in supporting member bids and needs for C&I and utility-scale solar projects.”

SoCore, founded in 2008, has been managing commercial, industrial, and municipal projects. It commissioned its largest solar rooftop installation at the Federal Express Shipping Center in Hagerstown, MD. The company’s financial strength grew in 2013 after its acquisition by Edison International, a $13.4 billion company.

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

One in Seven Rural Electric Co-ops Involved in Solar Projects

Many rural electric cooperatives are ready to begin integrating solar technology into their operations. In fact, one in seven cooperatives contacted in a survey by Adaptive Microgrids LLC, a company that specializes in alternative energy analysis, said they already are involved in community solar or some other form of solar project.

“The people that are in [the co-op] footprint are willing to pay to have solar as part of their solution. If you give them a 5.5 percent return with less than a 15-year payback, that’s about the numbers that you want to shoot for,” said Adaptive Microgrids CEO Dean Moretton.

Moretton appeared in an NRECA-hosted webinar reviewing the benefits that community solar provides to both rural cooperatives and consumers. “It is a good fit for cooperatives. It offers a lot of flexibility,” said Andrew Cotter, a program manager in NRECA’s Business and Technology Strategies department. “There’s also a lot of inherent fairness to the community solar model. That’s why we call it ‘the cooperative approach to solar.’”

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

Clevest ‘Visualization’ Wins Smart Grid Product of the Year

NRTC’s AVL partner Clevest got some good news when its Smart Grid Visualization application joined products from 11 other leading solutions providers on SmartGrid.TMCnet.com’s 2015 Smart Grid Product of the Year Awards list. The award “recognizes outstanding innovation across all facets of smart grid technologies,” according to the site.

Smart Grid Visualization integrates with Clevest’s AVL systems and uses smart meter data and data from other sources to provide map-based views of electric distribution system status. Utility crews can know immediately where an outage occurs or where there has been vandalism to some element of the infrastructure.

Clevest points to NRTC member Brunswick Electric Membership Cooperative, Supply, NC, for a case study illustrating the effectiveness of Smart Grid Visualization. “We had the pleasure of learning about Clevest at TechAdvantage and contacted the NRTC for more information,” David Adams, Brunswick’s manager of Information Services said recently.

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

Save the Date for OATI Energy Conference, Sept. 22-24

NRTC members that have invested in smart grid and energy analytics systems should consider attending the 2015 OATI Energy Conference, Sept. 22-24 at The Palazzo in Las Vegas, NV. NRTC partner OATI hosts the conference, which offers informational sessions on smart grid analytics and professional networking opportunities.

NTCA Survey Finds Regulatory Uncertainty Remains Barrier to Fiber Builds

NTCA, The Rural Broadband Association’s annual member survey of broadband providers shows that rural telcos increased the amount of fiber-to-the-home (FTTH) to their customers by 9 percent in 2014. But fiber growth could be even greater.

“The lack of predictability in the regulatory arena continues to hamper the operations of survey respondents,” NTCA said in the survey report released in June. “The more that RLECs are able to know with some degree of certainty what their regulatory future will look like, at least in the short run, the more they will be able to focus their energies on their core mission of serving their customers.”

Seventy-four percent of respondents in the survey identified regulatory uncertainty as a barrier to fiber deployment. That was an improvement from 80 percent in the 2013 survey, but still a significant majority. Cost was the only greater barrier, which 92 percent of respondents mentioned.

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

ViaSat-3 Is in the Offing

The satellite industry is waiting patiently for the launch of ViaSat-2 in 2016, the follow-up to ViaSat-1, which is the platform for the current Exede satellite broadband service and the highest capacity communications satellite in the world. ViaSat-2 will be even higher capacity and will have an expanded footprint covering the entire continental United States and airplane flight paths to the United Kingdom.

But ViaSat is looking beyond 2016. Recently it filed a “Proposed Minor Modification and Notification of Change of Satellite Name” with the FCC. The document declares ViaSat’s intention to rename an earlier-filed geostationary satellite project as “ViaSat-3.”

“ViaSat has entered into a contract for the construction of the satellite, and this application seeks to modify the market access authorization to conform the authorized parameters to the corresponding technical parameters in the contract,” the company said in an attachment to the filing.

ViaSat does not name a target date for the ViaSat-3’s launch or give details about its capacity and other characteristics. However, it does provide a map of the planned footprint for the satellite (pictured), which will include coverage of the entire continental United States, Mexico, and most of Canada and Central America. Like ViaSat-2, it will have coverage over the Atlantic Ocean, but not all the way to the UK.

Lower Cost and Greater Awareness Needed for Home Automation Growth

Segments of the market for connected home systems, such as remote control of thermostats and home entertainment systems are growing steadily, but the entire concept of the connected home is not yet a mass market. Cost is the greatest barrier to consumer investment to more complete systems, including lighting control, home security, and other automation devices, according to recent research by IHS on behalf of the Continental Automated Building Association (CABA).

According to consumer surveys, the next greatest barrier after, cost and concerns about hackers being able to breach consumer privacy, is the “hassle” involved in deploying systems. “We shouldn’t be seeing that at all, should we? The whole point of home automation is to make sure that life is easier,” said IHS connected home analyst Tim Hewitt during a recent webinar hosted by the FTTH Council. “That really highlights the fact the consumers are not really aware of home automation devices and don’t understand what home automation devices can achieve.”

One of the top take-aways from the research, Hewitt said, is that the future of the connected home closely connects to the popularity of smartphones. Smartphones are at the center of connected home application control because many consumers will prefer to control systems from their workplaces and other remote locations. “Energy management devices are the most likely to be accessed at home and home security devices are the most likely to be accessed outside the home,” he said.

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

Wireless Industry Differs Over LTE Coexistence on Unlicensed Bands

The demand for wireless services has led some developers to seek ways to operate 4G LTE networks over unlicensed bands. In areas of highly congested LTE usage, a licensed carrier could seamlessly transfer some overflow traffic to an unlicensed band. This LTE-Unlicensed (LTE-U) technology would rely on a Licensed Assisted Access (LAA) technique where a channel in the network’s licensed spectrum serves as the primary channel for devices sharing unlicensed frequencies.

“In these areas, Verizon will deploy LTE-U on low-power small cells. Customers served by LTE-U will enjoy all the advantages of ‘standard’ LTE, including fast download speeds and seamless coverage when moving between cells,” Verizon said in comments to the FCC, describing its plans to deploy LTE-U in 5 GHz unlicensed bands.

But the organization representing wireless Internet service providers (WISPs) in rural and other areas said that having the FCC take a closer look at LTE-U/Wi-Fi coexistence is the wisely cautious thing to do. “The Commission’s primary focus should be the protection of consumers from interference that will disrupt the communications capabilities of millions of unlicensed devices,” the WISP Association 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.


© 2015 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

NRTC Expands Solar Efforts With SoCore Energy Agreement

One in Seven Rural Electric Co-ops Involved in Solar Projects

Clevest ‘Visualization’ Wins Smart Grid Product of the Year

Save the Date for OATI Energy Conference, Sept. 22-24

NTCA Survey Finds Regulatory Uncertainty Remains Barrier to Fiber Builds

ViaSat-3 Is in the Offing

Lower Cost and Greater Awareness Needed for Home Automation Growth

Wireless Industry Differs Over LTE Coexistence on Unlicensed Bands

VTel Ready to Provide 10 Gbps Broadband Throughout Its Service Area

Powell Predicts Wide Cable Gigabit Service by 2017

Akamai Report Notes Gigabit Broadband Trend

FCC Willing to Consider Transparency Rule Exemption for Small ISPs

Where You Can See NRTC

In Brief

VTel Ready to Provide 10 Gbps Broadband Throughout Its Service Area

Gigabit broadband services are popping up all over the country and a few cities around the country will have 2 Gbps service before the end of the year. But NRTC member Vermont Telephone Co., Springfield, VT, has them all beaten. It recently announced that it is now able to deliver 10 Gbps Internet to all of the households in its telco service area. Of course, residential 10 Gbps service comes at a bit of a premium — $400 a month. But any household that actually needs 10 Gbps in 2015 probably can afford the price. In the meantime, VTel says its 1 Gbps service over the same fiber optic system is just $35. It will probably get a lot of takers.

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

Powell Predicts Wide Cable Gigabit Service by 2017

The cable TV industry continues to dominate broadband distribution to the home with Comcast alone holding a 56 percent share, according to one count. But the construction of gigabit fiber to the home from telcos and other entities and the growing popularity of wireless Internet threaten to cut into cable’s lead. Former FCC Chairman Michael Powell, currently president and CEO of the National Cable & Telecommunications Association, discusses how the industry is facing the competition in a LinkedIn post. “Today, this industry is driving toward widely available gigabit Internet speeds by 2017. We are deploying hundreds of thousands of Wi-Fi hotspots that allow consumers to access the Internet when untethered from their homes,” Powell says.

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

Akamai Report Notes Gigabit Broadband Trend

By most measures, the United States does not make the Top 10 worldwide in broadband growth, but there is one category where this country appears to be well ahead. The trend toward building fiber networks with gigabit speeds to the home is not registering anywhere else on the globe, according to Akamai’s The State of the Internet report tracking worldwide broadband activity through year-end 2014. “Many of the [U.S.] efforts to increase connection speeds are being taken at a local/municipal level and may not have an immediate state-wide impact upon completion, but are part of ongoing initiatives that are becoming more widespread across the country,” the report concludes. Akamai refers to several gigabit projects in 2014 and a few planned services intended to surpass 1 Gbps average peak connection speed.

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

FCC Willing to Consider Transparency Rule Exemption for Small ISPs

One of the net neutrality rules that took effect early last month was an “enhanced transparency” requirement governing how Internet providers disclose their “commercial terms, performance characteristics, and network practices.” The FCC is responding this week to small Internet providers who claim the requirement is a burden. In a public notice, the Commission proposed an exemption for Internet providers serving fewer than 100,000 broadband “connections,” as reported in the twice-yearly Form 477 that ISPs file with the FCC.

Where You Can See NRTC

• July 12-14: Georgia CEO Conference, Hilton Head, SC
NRTC RBM Jay Smith will attend

• July 15-17: TN/KY Engineering & Operations Conference, Gatlinburg, TN
NRTC RBM Jay Smith will attend

• July 20-22: Texas Public Power Association 2015 Annual Meeting, San Antonio, TX
NRTC RBM Steve Bell will attend

• July 26-28: Virginia, Maryland, Delaware Association of Electric Cooperatives Annual Meeting, Roanoke, VA
NRTC RBM Jay Smith will attend

• July 26-29: NTCA Southeast Regional Conference, Myrtle Beach, SC
NRTC RBM Jay Smith will attend

• Aug. 2-5: Texas Electric Cooperative 75th Annual Conference, Austin, TX
NRTC RBM Steve Bell will attend

• Aug. 5-8: TVPPA Engineering & Operations Conference, Murfreesboro, TN
NRTC RBM Jay Smith will attend

• Aug. 11-14: TSE Technology Conference, Myrtle Beach, SC
NRTC RBM Jay Smith will attend

• Sept. 8-10: NRECA Meeting for Regions 1 & 4, Charlotte, NC
NRTC staff will attend

•Sept. 15-17: NRECA Meeting for Regions 5 & 6, Minneapolis, MN
NRTC staff will attend

• Sept. 15-18: TSE 33rd Annual Engineering Conference, Arlington, TX
NRTC RBM Steve Bell will attend


See the NRTC Events page for more upcoming meetings.