By Ashley Spinks, Communications Coordinator, NTCA–The Rural Broadband Association
February 4, 2019
The Opening General Session of the NTCA Rural Telecom Industry Meeting and Expo was held this morning in New Orleans. NTCA Board Chairman Kevin Beyer began the program with remarks about the vast diversity of NTCA's membership. He discussed the variety in business type, model elections, buildout challenges and more, while maintaining that the diversity of the association is its biggest strength. Beyer also advocated for new priorities in 2019, including rural telcos learning to market themselves (such as with the Smart Rural Community branding program) and promoting benefits to attract and retain employees.
Following Beyer was NTCA Chief Executive Officer Shirley Bloomfield, who celebrated the many successes of the association's membership, as well as the broader rural telecom industry, in 2018. Bloomfield said that NTCA was among the top three visitors to the FCC last year, and thanked NTCA members and staff for their continued engagement with critical broadband policy priorities. Bloomfield also discussed the anniversaries of both the Foundation for Rural Service (founded 25 years ago) and the Rural Broadband PAC (which turns 50 this year), and promoted the new GetIN! campaign from the membership team at NTCA.
Bloomfield was then joined on stage by NTCA Vice President of Policy Joshua Seidemann. Seidemann summarized his experiences at the Consumer Electronics Show (CES), and made the case for why keeping abreast of new technology is worthwhile for rural broadband providers. Finally, the conference's Opening General Session closed out with the keynote speaker, Seth Mattison, of Luminate Labs. Mattison discussed the two forces he sees as most influential in society—hierarchies and networks—and explained why adhering to strict hierarchies in business can stifle innovation.
Following the general session, a second line band led the crowd across the street to the Marriot, where the EXPO Hall opened and vendors were able to converse with NTCA's membership. The EXPO also held an open house and forum, complete with refreshments and vendor presentations, in the afternoon. Concurrent sessions for managers were:
- Competitive Expansion Tactics
- Show Me the Data
and for directors:
- Top 10 Things Board Members Need to Know
- The Value of a Connected Community
- Elevating New Business Ventures
- How High-Functioning Boards Bring on New Members
The day closed with the Foundation for Rural Service's 25th Anniversary Gala, which was attended by more than 500 people. The black-tie affair was filled with joy and elegance—from a live band to a plated dinner to auctions that raised nearly $50,000 for the foundation.
Tomorrow will bring the Second General Session—featuring FCC Chairman Ajit Pai—as well as further concurrent sessions and a new RTIME event, EXPO Live!
For more information on tomorrow's planned events, check the NTCA Events app or visit our website.