NTCA Testimony on Improving Broadband Deployment: Solutions for Rural America

For Immediate Release
Contact:Kelly Wismer, (703) 351-2015, kwismer@ntca.org

Arlington, Va. (June 22, 2017)—Michael Romano, senior vice president of industry affairs and business development for NTCA–The Rural Broadband Association, testified today before the House Committee on Small Business Subcommittee on Agriculture, Energy, and Trade during the hearing, "Improving Broadband Deployment: Solutions for Rural America." The following is excerpted from Romano’s written testimony:

“Providing robust, scalable, and sustainable broadband in rural areas is not the kind of endeavor that tends to attract substantial capital from multiple private lending sources or tends to excite Wall Street. For small carriers like those in NTCA’s membership, there are very few lenders that even look to work in this space—the Rural Utilities Service under the U.S. Department of Agriculture, CoBank, and the Rural Telecommunications Finance Cooperative represent the primary lenders to whom such small rural network operators might look in borrowing investment capital.

“Moreover, even where capital may be available, it can be difficult, if not impossible, to justify loans for investment in rural areas without a better business case than the rural area provides on its own. The costs of deploying networks and maintaining the service are considerable, and the few customers gained (typically less than seven per mile, and often less than one per mile) cannot afford to pay hundreds of dollars a month for broadband to cover those costs. Direct support from the federal USF High Cost program is therefore essential to make the business case for rural broadband.”

The full text of the testimony is available online.  

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NTCA–The Rural Broadband Association is the premier association representing nearly 850 independent, community-based telecommunications companies that are leading innovation in rural and small-town America. NTCA advocates on behalf of its members in the legislative and regulatory arenas, and it provides training and development; publications and industry events; and an array of employee benefit programs. In an era of exploding technology, deregulation and marketplace competition, NTCA’s members are leading the IP evolution for rural consumers, delivering technologies that make rural communities vibrant places in which to live and do business. Because of their efforts, rural America is fertile ground for innovation in economic development and commerce, education, health care, government services, security and smart energy use. Visit us at www.ntca.org.