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


With MyTimeTV and TVeZ, Launching TV Everywhere is a Snap

NRTC at this year’s NTCA Fall Conference in San Francisco introduced TVeZsm, a bundle of online tools that combine with NRTC’s MyTimeTV to help rural video providers produce a TV Everywhere experience for their customers.

“NRTC members can benefit from the simplicity of our end-to-end solution for TVEverywhere – MyTimeTV with TVeZ,” said Mark Chambers, NRTC telco sales director. “We eliminate the complex portion of user authentication rights and the need to have a specialized module developed by your billing provider. Combined with our MyTimeTV user interface there is no easier way to launch the service and TVeZ makes the service easy to access for the end user.”

MyTimeTV ensures that only those subscribers who pay for content through a traditional pay-TV subscription can access TV Everywhere content anywhere there is an available broadband connection. It works through a process called “authentication” – programmers validate that a user is a paying customer.

TVeZ adds navigation capability to allow subscribers to find programming online easier and a registration module that allows viewers to set and change their passwords easily. The registration module also offers members an opportunity to brand their TV Everywhere service.

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

Rural Connect Completes First Year of Blogging

As of Sept. 4, NRTC’s blog Rural Connect has been posting information for one year. NRTC started Rural Connect to augment its monthly newsletter and other communications vehicles and provide more timely information to its members and the rural telecommunications industry at large. We also hope that it is a more informal, friendly way to share our activities and perspectives on doing business in rural America.

In the past year we have:

  • posted 261 items or about five a week;
  • had 5,891 individual users initiate 8,644 sessions on the blog;
  • had a total of 14,263 page views for an average 39 views a day.

So what have you been interested in reading? According to Google Analytics, the most activity has centered on items that describe how NRTC and its NeoNova and Telispire subsidiaries work with members to develop the best technology solutions. Readers also tend to like items about broadband technology, especially when rural electrics deploy broadband both to serve consumers and to enable their own smart grid capabilities.

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

Pioneer REC Opens High-Tech Storm Center

member survey
 

NRTC RBM Mark Davis had a chance to see the newly renovated offices at Pioneer Rural Electric Cooperative in Piqua, OH, and was impressed. Pioneer REC CEO Ron Salyer led the tour which featured “one of the more advanced dispatch centers I have seen,” Davis said. The cooperative integrated several advanced technologies into its storm room (above). The new facility also has video conference tools to hold staff meetings linked to district offices. Salyer also used video conferencing to conduct a class for NRECA’s Management Internship Program. In addition, Pioneer plans to use its new capabilities to “upload YouTube video clips during storms so members can be updated on outages and restoration progress,” Davis said.

NeoNova’s Ray Carey Gets a Radio Platform

A little news from our blogging brethren at NeoNova: Ray Carey, the company’s CEO, recently appeared on “NC Tech Talk,” a radio program focusing on the local Raleigh, NC, technology business scene. “We take the scary out of the cloud,” Carey said. “The cloud promises huge productivity gains for all users, but the change management can be very, very difficult. It can be a little bit scary and messy and we’re there to clean up the mess and keep things working.”

The interview covers topics such as hiring trends and office cultures for NeoNova and other companies in the Raleigh area. You can find a link to the podcast on the Metro Raleigh Business Radio website.

Could Wi-Fi Work With an MVNO Model?

On their Facebook page, our friends at Telispire ask an interesting question: “A Wi-Fi-only MVNO… What do you think about that?” They link to this article that describes such a recently launched business.

“People are throwing money away by paying too much for services they simply don’t need. For mobile users across the country, access to the Internet via public and private Wi-Fi networks is becoming easier than ever and that trend is only going to accelerate,” says Derek Ting, CEO and co-founder of Touch Mobile.

Like Telispire and other mobile virtual network operators, Touch Mobile offers access to spectrum from a larger carrier. However, the bulk of the data use is from the carriers’ Wi-Fi hot spots, which support VoIP calls on Android phones as well as texting and Web access. The data plans provide for small amounts of non-Wi-Fi data access when out of Wi-Fi range. For example, the lowest-cost plan allows for unlimited data usage on Wi-Fi and 200 megabytes of non-Wi-Fi for $20 a month. The highest plan provides 2 gigabytes a month for $50.

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

Satellite Launches Decreasing but ViaSat-2 Still on Target for 2016

Some recent trade publication reports have noted a slowdown in the satellite launch industry. Last month International Launch Services (ILS) said that it was cutting its staff by 25 percent in part because orders for commercial satellite launches have been down in 2014. Industry analysts believe, however, that it is a cyclical slowdown after two straight years of large commercial launch order increases.

Another launch company, SpaceX, experienced a somewhat smaller layoff around the same time as ILS, according to media reports..

In spite of the cut in the number of launches, there does not appear to be any reduction in demand for capacity, especially capacity for broadband Internet services. According to ViaSat’s annual report released earlier this summer, construction of the next-generation ViaSat-2 satellite has begun and 2016 remains the target for launch. “The projected total cost of the ViaSat-2 project, including the satellite, launch, insurance and related gateway infrastructure, through satellite launch is estimated to be between $600 million to $650 million,” ViaSat said.

Rural Associations Agree to Single, National 10 Mbps Downstream Broadband Standard

NTCA-the Rural Broadband Association, NRECA, and other organizations representing rural interests weighed in on the FCC’s recent “Section 706” Notice of Inquiry (NOI) and had no objections to the Commission’s proposal to raise the definition of broadband from 4 Mbps downstream to 10 Mbps. At the same time, the rural organizations said that there should be one benchmark for broadband service rather than separate standards for rural and urban areas.

Section 706 of the 1996 Telecommunications Act directs the FCC to periodically examine whether “advanced services” are reaching all Americans “in a reasonable and timely fashion.” The NOI asks additional questions, including whether the FCC should increase the benchmark to 10 Mbps.

“NRECA suggests that a download speed of 10 Mbps and an upload speed of more than 1 Mbps represent the typical household demand for broadband,” the association said in its Section 706 comments. It added that the benchmark “should be increased to a minimum of 10 Mbps downstream and 1+ Mbps upstream.”

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

Wheeler “Hopeful” Stand-alone Rural Broadband Support Mechanism Could Be Ready in Early 2015

Members of the House Small Business Committee asked FCC Chairman Tom Wheeler questions about topics ranging from net neutrality to special retransmission consent negotiations that will allow Los Angeles baseball fans to watch the Dodgers for the rest of the regular season. There also were some rural broadband questions during a recent committee hearing.

A couple of committee members asked about the proposed creation of a standalone universal service support mechanism to assist rural rate-of-return telcos to build broadband facilities. Many rural telcos have scaled back or canceled broadband expansion plans due to FCC policies diverting USF high-cost fund support for voice services to broadband support in unserved price cap regions.

Wheeler noted that the comment period on the rural broadband mechanism just closed and that he was “hopeful” that the Commission would approve it. “I don’t think we’ll be able to get to it as quickly as the Connect America Fund, but I think it is an early 2015 kind of an issue,” he said.

To read the rest of this post, go to NRTC’s Rural Connect. Also see FCC's Wheeler Says There Is Not Enough Broadband Competition.

Report Provides Long List of Municipal Broadband Pitfalls

Some within the federal government recently have promoted the idea that pre-empting state laws to allow municipalities to build and operate networks as an efficient strategy for expanding broadband to rural areas. The Advanced Communications Law & Policy Institute (ACLP) at New York Law School speaks to the issue in a 180-page report it sent to the FCC for the record, “Understanding the Debate Over Government-Owned Broadband Networks: Context, Lessons Learned, and a Way Forward for Policy Makers.”

The heart of the report is a collection of 10 case studies of government-owned networks (GONs) from recent years. The results of those cases suggest that GONs tend to be a bad idea.

For example, one of the case studies is Monticello, MN, a city of 13,000 located about an hour’s drive north of the Twin Cities. The city issued two bond initiatives totaling $26.445 million to finance a fiber-to-the-home network that opened in 2010. The city offers voice, data, and television services to 1,270 subscribers. Revenues in 2013 amounted to $1.756 million; operating expenses were $2.292 million.

“As a result of the lack of a strong customer base, the system appears not to be viable,” the report says. “In July 2012, [Monticello] FiberNet defaulted on its bond repayment because the city was unable to make ‘a monthly deposit into a debt service account as required by bond indenture.’”

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

With MyTimeTV and TVeZ, Launching TV Everywhere is a Snap

Rural Connect Completes First Year of Blogging

Pioneer REC Opens High-Tech Storm Center

NeoNova’s Ray Carey Gets a Radio Platform

Could Wi-Fi Work With an MVNO Model?

Satellite Launches Decreasing but ViaSat-2 Still on Target for 2016

Rural Associations Agree to Single, National 10 Mbps Downstream Broadband Standard

Wheeler “Hopeful” Stand-alone Rural Broadband Support Mechanism Could Be Ready in Early 2015

Report Provides Long List of Municipal Broadband Pitfalls

ViaSat Agrees to $100 Million Settlement With SS/L

FirstNet RFI Seeks Ways Rural Entities Could Be Part of Build-out

Bipartisan Group of Senators Call for Protection from Sharp Rural Phone Rate Hikes

Lowe’s Survey Finds Majority of Americans Want Some Form of Home Automation

Tips for Conserving on a Monthly Data Limit

Where You Can See NRTC

In Brief

ViaSat Agrees to $100 Million Settlement With SS/L

In an announcement to investors last month, ViaSat said that it had settled its litigation with Space Systems/Loral (SS/L) over alleged infringement of patents and breach of contract in the construction of the ViaSat-1 satellite. SS/L will pay ViaSat $100 million plus interest through 2016. Earlier this year, a jury found in ViaSat’s favor, but SS/L immediately filed an appeal. ViaSat also filed another lawsuit alleging additional patent violations. The parties will withdraw those suits as part of the settlement.

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

FirstNet RFI Seeks Ways Rural Entities Could Be Part of Build-out

The First Responder Network Authority (FirstNet), the group tasked with building a nationwide, interoperable wireless broadband network for emergency agencies, has reached a phase where it is ready to look at the details of exactly how to build such a network. More precisely, in a Request for Information (RFI) adopted on Wednesday during a FirstNet board meeting, it seeks ways potential industry partners, such as rural telephone and electric companies, could fit in the plan.

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

Bipartisan Group of Senators Call for Protection from Sharp Rural Phone Rate Hikes

A group of 16 senators – eight Democrats and eight Republicans – co-signed a letter to FCC Chairman Tom Wheeler asking the Commission to revisit its decision to raise the “rate floor” for local telephone service. The Commission voted in April to raise the minimum rate at which telephone companies can charge consumers from $14 to $20 as of Jan. 1, 2015.

“As currently constructed, the rate floor puts rural telephone companies in an untenable position in which they must choose between raising rates to levels that, in some cases, are more than the rates their urban counterparts charge many of their customers, or receiving reduced universal service support,” the senators wrote in a letter to the Commission.

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

Lowe’s Survey Finds Majority of Americans Want Some Form of Home Automation

Home-repair retailer Lowe’s has released the results of its 2014 Smart Home Survey. Among the survey’s findings, “70 percent of Americans who own a smartphone/tablet wish they could control something in their home from their mobile device without getting out of bed.” In addition, 50 percent of respondents said they would like to purchase do-it-yourself smart home solutions that they can install and maintain themselves without monthly fees from a service provider.

Like a recent survey from Parks Associates, the Lowe’s findings are that responders seem most interested in home networking for security systems. “Sixty-two percent rank security and home monitoring as the top beneficial reason to own a smart home,” with respondents listing remote control of locks, alarm systems, and video monitoring as top applications. Forty percent also listed systems to cut energy costs.

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

Tips for Conserving on a Monthly Data Limit

Internet providers setting monthly data limits are changing the way people use Internet, as the item about Wi-Fi MVNOs (on this page) demonstrates. Here is a USA Today article that ViaSat recently linked to on its Facebook page – “Three Things That Can Devour Your Data Plan.” As NRTC’s VP, Internet Services Alana Pilkington says, “It is written to cell phone audience, but a lot of this could be relevant to satellite broadband users.”

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

Where You Can See NRTC

• Oct. 1-2: Association of Missouri Electric Cooperatives Meeting, St. Louis, MO
NRTC CEO Tim Bryan and RBM Ronald Billodeaux will attend

• Oct. 1-3: 2014 BroadbandVision, Las Vegas, NV
NRTC VP and CTO Kurt Schaubach will present and NRTC sales staff will attend

• Oct. 5-7: NeoNova University – Semester by the Sea, Charleston, SC
NRTC VP, Internet Services Alana Pilkington will attend

• Oct. 12-14: NTCA Northwest Regional Conference, Missoula, MT
NRTC RBM Terry Kucera will attend

• Oct. 14-16: NRECA Regions 7 & 9 Meeting, Omaha, NE
NRTC CEO Tim Bryan and staff will attend

• Oct. 19-21: NTCA North/Central Regional Conference, Fargo, ND
NRTC RBM Terry Kucera will attend

• Oct. 21-23: NRECA Regions 8 & 10 Meeting, Little Rock, AK
NRTC CEO Tim Bryan and staff will attend

• Nov. 2-5: Sensus Utility Conference, Phoenix, AZ
NRTC Staff will attend


See the NRTC Events page for more upcoming meetings.