NTCA Testimony on Broadband Infrastructure Solutions

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

Arlington, Va. (March 13, 2018)—Michael Romano, senior vice president of industry affairs and business development at NTCA–The Rural Broadband Association, testified today before the Senate Commerce, Science and Transportation Subcommittee on Communications, Technology, Innovation and the Internet during the hearing, “Rebuilding Infrastructure in America: Investing in Next Generation Broadband.” The hearing focused on efficient and effective ways of addressing broadband deployment within an infrastructure package while reviewing lessons learned from broadband infrastructure projects in the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009. The following is excerpted from Romano’s written testimony:

“Sustaining and upgrading broadband networks is essential because consumers and businesses depend upon reliable and affordable services that will remain high-quality and keep pace with advances in technology and user needs.  Indeed, what was considered ‘high-speed’ broadband just seven or eight years ago is today considered antiquated, meaning that networks must be scalable and upgraded over time to keep pace with consumer demand. . . . Thus, even as we have successes to celebrate and roadmaps to look to for proven track records of success, we as a nation have much more to do both to reach unserved areas and to sustain robust and affordable rural broadband where it is available today.

“While rural broadband is not an easy challenge to overcome, it is not terribly complicated to identify the primary barrier to rural broadband – the economics of deploying and sustaining broadband are difficult, if not impossible, in many rural markets. . . . For these reasons, it is essential that infrastructure initiatives include sufficient resources to meet the challenges of deploying and sustaining broadband in rural America. Without such resources, any effort is likely to be effective only on the margins or in very limited respects, leaving behind many areas that still lack broadband access and/or putting at risk investments already made to deploy advanced broadband networks in deeply rural areas.

“Coordination among programs – both those that may be created as part of any infrastructure plan and those already in place – is essential to maximize the effectiveness of finite resources and achieve the goal of robust and sustainable universal broadband.  In fact, to minimize the likelihood of ‘making new mistakes’ (or even repeating old ones) in the rush to stand up any new program, . . . NTCA submits that it makes sense in the first instance to leverage existing programs that have time-tested processes and procedures to direct funds to the right places and already have experience in vetting proposals to deploy and sustain rural broadband.”

The full text of the submitted written 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 transformative technological advancements, regulatory challenges and marketplace competition, NTCA members are leading the technological evolution for rural consumers, delivering robust and high-quality services over future-proof networks 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, e-commerce, health care, agriculture and education, and it contributes billions of dollars to the U.S. economy each year.