NRTC home

NRTConnects



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

NRTC Members Elect Bryan Lightfoot to Board; Reelect Three, and Honor Luis Reyes for 12 Years of Service

NRTC has added a new member to its board of directors, Bryan Lightfoot, CEO of Bartlett Electric Cooperative in Bartlett, TX. NRTC electric members elected him to the board on Feb. 22 during the NRTC Annual Meeting in Orlando, FL, concurrent with the NRECA Annual Meeting and TechAdvantage Expo. At the same meeting, members reelected three incumbent board members: James Mangum, CEO and GM of Wake Electric Membership Corp., Wake Forest, NC (District 1); Gene Dorrel, GM, United Electric Cooperative, Maryville, MO (District 8), and Bob Marshall, GM, Plumas-Sierra Rural Electric Cooperative, Portola, CA (District 9).

Lightfoot has 15 years of experience working for rural electric cooperatives, including the last seven years leading Bartlett Electric. He succeeds former NRTC Board Chairman Luis Reyes, CEO of Kit Carson Electric Cooperative in Taos, NM, as the District 10 representative. Reyes reached his term limit under NRTC bylaws and stepped down from the NRTC Board following the Feb. 22 meeting.

“Luis, it has been an honor to have you on the board, and I personally appreciate your leadership as board chairman when I was still relatively new to the job as CEO,” said NRTC CEO Tim Bryan, who presented Reyes with a $2,500 donation to the Kit Carson Electric Education Foundation in honor of Reyes’ 12 years on the board.

The NRTC Annual Meeting for telco members will begin at noon on Monday, March 9, in conjunction with NTCA’s Rural Telecom Industry Meeting & Expo (RTIME) in Phoenix, AZ.

Electric-Telco Partnership Summit: Many Possible Paths to the Same Goal

Rural electric and telephone company general managers gathered on Feb. 5 in Herndon, VA, to begin a conversation. The task was to bring together the two groups – leaders and important employers in their communities – to discuss partnerships. The Electric-Telco Partnership Summit, sponsored by NRTC, NTCA-The Rural Broadband Association, the National Rural Electric Cooperative Association (NRECA) and the National Information Solutions Cooperative (NISC), and SEDC, was a chance for those who have already contemplated and formed such partnerships to show others how to follow.

The need is for true broadband services in rural areas, including areas that are unserved today. The further need is to build facilities that benefit the community overall. Electric and telephone companies combined can summon broadband business experience, large rural service areas, customer support (way superior to national carriers) and the ability raise capital. The panelists at the summit offered many ideas for blending those attributes.

“The most fascinating thing that’s come out of the sessions is that not a single group of people who have partnered have partnered in the same way. Everyone has done something completely different,” said NRTC CEO Tim Bryan. Among the various panelists, some had formed joint ventures; some were in less-formal partnerships, and in one case, an electric and a telco merged. In each case, they found a way to apply the strengths of both partners to the task.

“I think that is the one lesson you can take away from here,” Bryan said.

Read Further Coverage and View Video From the Electric-Telco Partnership Summit:

Sensus Lighting Platform Expands FlexNet Smart City Potential

Sensus, NRTC’s smart grid partner, has introduced VantagePoint Lighting, a system to control and monitor street and area lighting using the same FlexNet wireless network that NRTC members now use to control their Sensus AMI systems. The lighting system is the first of a number of control capabilities Sensus plans to introduce on the VantagePoint platform, which will allow utilities to work with municipalities to create “smart cities.”

“One of the exciting things we see with our existing customers, if they have active demand response programs, with remote control switches on hot water heaters or HVAC systems, they’ll see aggregated, system-wide street lighting or area lighting as a single point load, which could be turned on and off as they wish,” said Charlie Nobles, marketing director, Lighting for Sensus, during a recent webinar. “It could be offset from sunrise to sunset; it could be centered in at different dimming levels and sent in dispatchable loads, which is complementary to a traditional demand response program. It will enhance demand response total peak shaving.”

The system includes precise dimming control, depending on the time of day, an advantage that cities’ expanded use of LED lighting makes possible. The combination of VantagePoint and LEDs also opens up energy and cost saving opportunities.

To read the rest of this post, go to NRTC’s Rural Connect. Also see Live Demo of VantagePoint Lighting.
 

At Our Deadline

As we were assembling NRTConnects, the FCC met on Feb. 26 to reclassify Internet as a Title II telecommunications service and to preempt certain state laws limiting municipal broadband services. We posted the following two items in the days before the FCC actions. For the latest developments on these issues, got to NRTC’s Rural Connect blog.

Wheeler Shares His Title II Views

FCC Chairman Tom Wheeler prior to distributing his 300+-page plan to reclassify the Internet as a Title II telecommunications service to the rest of the Commission, shared he general ideas on the plan with the public in a bylined opinion piece on Wired’s website. “Originally, I believed that the FCC could assure Internet openness through a determination of ‘commercial reasonableness’ under Section 706 of the Telecommunications Act of 1996,” Wheeler said, but he became concerned that “this relatively new concept might, down the road, be interpreted to mean what is reasonable for commercial interests, not consumers.”

Wheeler said that the order “will ban paid prioritization, and the blocking and throttling of lawful content and services. I propose to fully apply—for the first time ever—those bright-line rules to mobile broadband.” However, in order to maintain incentive for the private sector to continue investing in Internet infrastructure, the order will forebear from certain rules it has placed on telephone companies over the generations. “There will be no rate regulation, no tariffs, no last-mile unbundling,” he said.

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

NTCA and USTelecom Refute the Case for Preempting State Broadband Laws

NTCA, The Rural Broadband Association and USTelecom drafted a white paper listing the reasons why the FCC might not have the authority to preempt state laws limiting municipal entry into broadband. “The associations argue that the preeminent case law in this context clearly forecloses the petitioners’ argument for preemption. The conclusions drawn herein indicate that a court will reverse any contrary conclusion by the Commission,” NTCA and USTelecom said in a recent ex parte communication.

The municipalities seeking preemption argue that the FCC has the authority to act through Section 706 of the Telecommunications Act of 1996, which gives the Commission broad powers to promote broadband growth if it does not become available “in a reasonable and timely fashion.” However, the associations in the white paper counter that “such general language [in Section 706] does not indicate that Congress intended to authorize preemption at all, much less does it speak with the extraordinary clarity necessary to interfere with state policy judgments.”

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

Some Rural Bidders Among AWS-3 Auction Winners

As expected, large national carriers dominated the list of winning bidders for licenses in the recently concluded AWS-3 spectrum auction. Some rural entities participated in the auction and held the high bid, but many walked away empty.

AT&T led the list with nearly $18.2 billion in bids, approaching half of the total $44.9 billion for the entire auction. Verizon had total bids of $10.4 billion. According to published reports, DISH invested in two firms that bid under different names — SNR Wireless and Northstar Wireless. Those two combined for about $10 billion in bids.

NRTC members that won licenses included Central Texas Telephone, Goldthwaite, TX, with $3.21 million in total bids; Chester Telephone Co., Chester, SC, $410,550; Emery Telephone, Orangeville, UT, $1 million; Geneseo Telephone Co, Geneseo, IL, $1.98 million; Pioneer Telephone Cooperative, Kingfisher, OK, $991,000; Puerto Rico Telephone, San Juan, PR, $170.9 million; Sandhill Telephone, Jefferson, SC, $903,550, and Triangle Telephone Cooperative, Havre, MT, $221,600.

Also see Record Spectrum Auction Ends With $44.9 Billion in Bids.

FCC Sets Multiple Broadband Benchmarks – 10 Mbps and 25 Mbps Down

It’s understandable if you get confused when the government uses the term “broadband” these days. Like the fluctuating definition of “rural” for various federal initiatives, the definition of broadband now depends on the context. In December, the Commission set the benchmark at 10 Mbps downstream/1 Mbps upstream for universal service eligibility purposes. A few weeks later, the Commission adopted a report to Congress updating the progress toward providing advanced services to all Americans in a “reasonable and timely fashion,” as required in Section 706 of the Telecommunications Act of 1996. For purposes of that report, broadband is now 25 Mbps downstream/3 Mbps upstream.

The new definition means that the Commission no longer considers satellite Internet services like Exede to be broadband. “Concerns remain about the quality and reliability of mobile and satellite data, as well as over other issues like latency and allowance usages,” said FCC Wireless Competition Bureau attorney John Visclosky. The Section 706 analysis did not factor in mobile or satellite services “because there’s little if any mobile or satellite service that provides 25/3,” Visclosky 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 Members Elect Bryan Lightfoot to Board; Reelect Three, and Honor Luis Reyes for 12 Years of Service

Electric-Telco Partnership Summit: Many Possible Paths to the Same Goal

Sensus Lighting Platform Expands FlexNet Smart City Potential

At Our Deadline

Wheeler Shares His Title II Views

NTCA and USTelecom Refute the Case for Preempting State Broadband Laws

Some Rural Bidders Among AWS-3 Auction Winners

FCC Sets Multiple Broadband Benchmarks – 10 Mbps and 25 Mbps Down

More Than One in Four Consumers Interested in Broadband/Electricity Bundling

Li-Fi Could Be the Next Step of the Connected Home Plan

Is Satellite Internet Making a Comeback?

Take Control in a Connected Bed

Where You Can See NRTC

In Brief

More Than One in Four Consumers Interested in Broadband/Electricity Bundling

Twenty-seven percent of broadband households are interested in plans to bundle their electric power with broadband service according to statistics released by Parks Associates during the research firm’s Smart Energy Summit in Austin, TX. A third of consumers in the same survey said they would be interested in bundling electricity and remote HVAC maintenance. The research suggests that the same segment of the market that is now buying smart thermostats and other devices for the connected home are interested in bundles.

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

Li-Fi Could Be the Next Step of the Connected Home Plan

NRECA’s Electric Co-op Today (ECT) recently ran a feature item about Li-Fi, a technology that allows LEDs to do double duty as energy-efficient lights and communications network components. “Li-Fi is beginning to revolutionize the opportunities in retail because they communicate directly from the LEDs to another entity,” Ken Black, co-chairman of consulting firm E Source says in ECT. Li-Fi is similar to Wi-Fi except that instead of using radio frequencies in the unlicensed spectrum bands, it uses IP-encoded pulsations of visible light from the LED fixtures. Photo detectors in the lights and a receiver – perhaps a smart phone or a Wi-Fi router connected to the Internet – support fast, two-way communications. In practice, it is similar to sending infrared impulses from your remote control to your TV or stereo system.

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

Is Satellite Internet Making a Comeback?

Actually, it never left … it’s been here serving the hard-to-reach parts of rural America all along. But a recent article in Network World proclaims its “rebirth” based in part on investment in new platforms, such as the OneWeb Ltd project. The article acknowledges that the actual rebirth began a few years ago. “When the ViaSat-1 launched in October, 2011, it had 140 Gbps of bandwidth, earning it the Guinness record for the world’s highest capacity satellite, more than every other satellite covering North America – combined,” Network World says. But it notes the more recent investments by companies such as Google and Facebook in satellites and drones signals a readiness to expand the Internet audience to new extents.

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

Take Control in a Connected Bed

According to crowd-funding website, a company called Luna has developed an IP-connected mattress cover that interfaces with other smart appliances in the home. For example, if you fall asleep while reading the bed will communicate with the smart thermostat to adjust the room temperature and the security system to turn off the lights and lock the doors. A computer interface keeps track of your heart rate and breathing to determine whether you are sleeping well. A smart phone app allows you to warm up the bed before you get in. No word on an interface with a robotic tuck-you-in device..

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

Where You Can See NRTC

• 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

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

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


See the NRTC Events page for more upcoming meetings.