NTCA Testimony on Small Business Perspective of Rural Infrastructure

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

Arlington, Va. (April 25, 2018)—NTCA Vice Chairman Kevin Beyer, general manager of Federated Telephone Cooperative (Chokio, Minn.) and Farmers Mutual Telephone Company (Bellingham, Minn.), testified today before the House Small Business Committee at the hearing “American Infrastructure and the Small Business Perspective.” The following is excerpted from Beyer’s written testimony:\

“Our networks allow rural small businesses to communicate with suppliers and sell to new markets. They enable education of our children on par with opportunities in urban areas and they make our communities attractive destinations for people and businesses to relocate. In rural America, that translates into economic development that produces jobs, not only in agriculture, energy, manufacturing, and other industries with a strong rural presence, but in the healthcare sector, and just about any other retail industry that requires broadband to operate.

“Despite unique rural challenges of high deployment costs due to distance, density, and terrain with too few customers gained to even cover the costs of operating a network, small rural telcos have made remarkable progress in deploying advanced communications networks. . . . Eighty-seven percent of NTCA members’ customers can purchase broadband at speeds of 10 Mbps or higher. Sixty-seven percent can now access speeds above 25 Mbps.

“The High-Cost [Universal Service Fund] (USF)/Connect America Fund (CAF) initiatives are essential both in justifying the business case for broadband infrastructure investment in the first instance, and then in sustaining such investments by keeping consumer rates for services more affordable atop the networks once they are built.

“A national infrastructure initiative offers a unique opportunity to help promote these broadband investments, and mechanisms that ensure efficiency and accountability in the expenditure of resources toward this mission are already in place.”

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. Visit us at www.ntca.org.