September 20, 2010 - RUS Administrator Addresses NTCA Fall Conference
Arlington, Va., (September 20, 2010) – Broadband is a "fundamental pillar" critical to the future of sustainable economic development in rural communities, Rural Utilities Service Administrator Jonathan Adelstein told attendees at the National Telecommunications Cooperative Association's (NTCA) Fall Conference in St. Louis today. Broadband is critical to attracting jobs to rural areas and to those looking to start new businesses, expand their markets, or utilize agricultural applications, he said. "You are strengthening the nation's economy by strengthening your local economies," by making it possible for people to live and work in rural areas, he said.
Because small rural communications providers have done such an effective job in expanding broadband access, Adelstein noted that "some people think you've done such a good job that you don't need support anymore-and that's certainly not the case."
He said RUS is working closely with the FCC to ensure it can accomplish their shared goal of promoting rural broadband deployment and that the commission understands the unique challenges of small rural providers. He said he is "confident that the FCC is conscious of your issues and that they will work with us to make sure the national broadband plan works for rural America."
Adelstein acknowledged the NTCA member companies in the room that were recipients of RUS broadband stimulus awards, noting that while it involved a great deal of hard work on the part of telcos-and will require more as buildouts occur-the stimulus created a unique opportunity to help get broadband to the areas where it is most needed. He indicated that many NTCA members won broadband stimulus awards because they submitted "outstanding" applications. "Not only do you understand [RUS] programs, but you have a keen understanding of what your communities need and how to deliver it. So your applications were financially solid, technically solid, and they were projects that RUS knew would be around for years to come."
He also emphasized the USDA's desire to bring the rural telecom and electric coops together bring broadband and smart grid solutions to rural America to "really push the frontier of what is possible in rural America. Adelstein said that is' not enough for the USDA to just see broadband networks built out, but that the administration wants to see jobs and businesses created on top of them. He urged the audience to take advantage of the full compliment of resources USDA has to help make that possible.
"We understand the effort, we understand the investment required, we understand the risks you've taken," to build your networks and bring advanced communications services to rural communities, Adelstein said. "It's not enough to just have broadband today, it continues to evolve, and as you evolve and continue to meet the challenges, RUS will be with you every step of the way."
The National Telecommunications Cooperative Association is the premier association representing more than 560 locally owned and controlled telecommunications cooperatives and commercial companies throughout rural and small-town America. NTCA provides its members with legislative, regulatory and industry representation; meetings; publications and educational programs; and an array of employee benefit programs. Visit us at www.ntca.org.