#RuralisCool, Volume 1, Issue 41 | October 3, 2019

Jason Miller of Delhi Telephone to Testify at House Hearing on Closing Digital Divide

Jason Miller, general manager of Delhi Telephone Company (DTC; Delhi, N.Y.) will testify on behalf of NTCA─The Rural Broadband Association during the House Committee on Small Business hearing, “Closing the Digital Divide: Connecting Rural Americans to Reliable Internet Service” on Friday, October 4 at 1:00 p.m. ET at Columbia Greene Community College in Hudson, N.Y.

Miller is expected to speak about the unique challenges DTC and other small companies face in building a business case to provide broadband in high-cost areas left behind by larger providers, key principles for broadband deployment and the importance of mapping. Other witnesses include:

  • Tim Johnson, CEO, Otsego Electric Cooperative (Edmeston, N.Y.)
  • Shannon Hayes, Owner, Sap Bush Hollow Farm Store and Café (West Fulton, N.Y.) David Berman, Co-Chair, Columbia Connect (Ghent, N.Y.)
  • Dr. Cliff Belden, Chief Medical Officer, Columbia Memorial Health (Hudson, N.Y.)

Witness testimony will be posted on the committee’s website within 24 hours after the hearing.


House Bill Aims to Secure Telecom Supply Chain

Energy and Commerce Committee Chairman Frank Pallone, Jr. (D-N.J.), Ranking Member Greg Walden (R-Ore.) and Reps. Doris Matsui (D-Calif.) and Brett Guthrie (R-Ky.) introduced the Secure and Trusted Communications Networks Act (HR 4459) in the House of Representatives this week.

The bill aims to help secure the U.S. telecommunications supply chain by prohibiting the use of federal funds to purchase communications equipment or services from any company considered to pose a national security risk to U.S. communications networks. In addition, it would require the FCC to establish the Secure and Trusted Communications Reimbursement program to assist small communications providers with the costs of removing prohibited equipment or services from their networks and replacing it with more secure alternatives.

NTCA is appreciative of the efforts by policymakers to ensure a reasonable transition, including financial and technical assistance, for smaller operators should any national security concerns be identified in certain telecommunications equipment that necessitate its removal. However, more work is needed to determine where such equipment may be deployed and the ultimate costs of removal and replacement. But NTCA welcomes this kind of productive conversation on how best to serve national security considerations without disrupting much-needed communications services in rural areas. 


NTCA Joins Rebuild Rural Coalition in Supporting Rural Health Care Infrastructure Legislation

NTCA, a founding member of the Rebuild Rural Coalition of more than 250 organizations from across the country dedicated to advocating for increased investment in rural America’s infrastructure, this week joined a letter to Congress urging immediate consideration of rural health care infrastructure legislation amid rising rural hospital closures.

The letter, which was signed by NTCA, the National Rural Health Association and others, urges lawmakers to seek the following policies:

  • Stop Medicare payment cuts that make it all but impossible for rural hospitals to invest in and improve their facilities.
  • Support new health care delivery models, including models included in legislation such as the REACH Act, the Save Rural Hospitals Act and Rural Hospitals Sustainability Act. • Improve workforce shortages by investing in medical education at rural institutions and attracting and retaining physicians in rural areas.
  • Improve broadband and telehealth in rural America by supporting policies that provide reliable and high-speed broadband infrastructure to ensure rural areas can use new and innovative technology.

The full text of the letter is available here.


Notes in the News

NTCA on Sept. 30 filed reply comments with the FCC about promoting telehealth for low-income consumers, noting that a telehealth pilot could offer great promise in serving low-income and veteran populations.

In a decision released October 1, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit upheld most of the actions taken by the FCC in the 2017 Restoring Internet Freedom Order:

FCC Chairman Ajit Pai appointed Evan Swarztrauber to be his Policy Advisor.

The FCC released a public notice with a list of Connect America Fund CAF II auction winners for which the commission is ready to authorize support.

In a public notice, the FCC seeks input on improving the drop-down menu for Form 470, which E-rate applicants use to solicit bids from service providers