Light Reading

Farmers Need Broadband More Than New Trucks

Carol Wilson

ORLANDO -- A day after Dodge put rural America front and center in its Ram Trucks Super Bowl commercial featuring Paul Harvey's "So God Made A Farmer," a large group of rural Americans is met here to ponder their future through a less romanticized lens. These rural Americans happen to also be telco executives, and they are being told it's time to make rural relevant again -- but the way to do that is through better broadband networks, not fancier trucks. It's not a new message, but it is one with new urgency and a new focus on trying to bring scale to rural problems and issues, both political and technological. The urgency is obvious: In 2013, 160 rural telcos hit the Federal Communications Commission (FCC)'s cap on Universal Service Fund (USF), a ceiling imposed through a set of computations so complex as to be unpredictable. Hundreds of other rural companies are so intimidated by changes in the USF and intercarrier compensation rules that they are trimming network investment or even looking for an exit strategy. The move to create scale is also obvious on one front: The two groups jointly meeting here as the Rural Telecom Industry Meeting & Expo are expecting to permanently unify into one larger, louder voice for the rural telco. They are the National Telecommunications Cooperative Association (NTCA) and the Organization for the Promotion and Advancement of Small Telecommunications Companies (Opastco). Already, persistent pressure by rural telcos on their Congressional representatives and at the FCC level has brought about some changes, said NTCA CEO Shirley Bloomfield and new FCC Commissioner Jessica Rosenworcel, who each delivered a keynote. Rosenworcel, who visited rural areas early in her tenure, said that while USF reform is important, the implementation rules are "byzantine in their complexity." The FCC has now adopted her recommendations that combine the capex and opex benchmarks into one, and will keep those benchmarks in place for more than a year. That will "simplify regression analysis and provide more flexibility," Rosenworcel said, in hopes of "giving more confidence over the long haul to invest." Bloomfield and Rosenworcel also urged the rural telcos assembled to focus on what the transition to all-IP networks means for their businesses and to keep up the pressure on the FCC, directly and through Congress, to make sure USF reforms don't hit rural broadband. "The FCC should not just track the status of reforms, they need to track how reforms actually help or hurt rural consumers," Bloomfield said. "We are working to take that message to the most influential folks we can -- in the White House in the USDA and in the Congress." But Bloomfield also urged the telcos to look for their own economies of scale through more partnerships with each other and with other entities, to avoid investing in company-specific infrastructure and systems, when those can be shared. For expensive resources such as headends, regional and middle-mile fiber networks and back-office systems for billing, partnerships become the best means of being more efficient. That's an important message for the rural folks because it's clear that Washington thinks that having so many small telcos doing their own thing in rural America is inefficient. What is also clear here in Orlando is that rural telcos are still determined to convince Washington that what rural communities most need to succeed is broadband service and that they are best positioned to provide that service. — Carol Wilson, Group Content Director, Business Technology Events, UBM Tech

(4)  | 
Comment  | 
Print  | 
Newest First  |  Oldest First  |  Threaded View        ADD A COMMENT
User Rank: Light Beer
2/6/2013 | 5:37:40 PM
re: Farmers Need Broadband More Than New Trucks
Don't overlook the satellite/agriculture connection. GPS data is well entrenched in large-scale farming, out in the mega-fields, far from rural telco access plant. Small rural towns, that's another matter. But broadband satellite -- govn't subsidized in some cases -- is an option.
User Rank: Lightning
2/6/2013 | 2:05:47 PM
re: Farmers Need Broadband More Than New Trucks
Seriously -- it clearly says shared between the operators, not with the government. Shared resources are in fact quite common in telecom. Shared conduits, manholes, and yes even shared headends. Although typically owned and operated by a single operator, one headend may forward traffic to multiple hubs across operators. This is common and economically efficient in low density population areas (aka rural).-á Politics aside, the economics are that broadband for everyone (including in rural areas) benefits their local, the US, and the global economy.
User Rank: Light Sabre
2/5/2013 | 5:28:13 PM
re: Farmers Need Broadband More Than New Trucks
Shared resources? Sounds like ... socialism. Maybe the term "red state" has some validity after all.
User Rank: Light Sabre
2/5/2013 | 4:28:57 PM
re: Farmers Need Broadband More Than New Trucks
Those areas represent the sea of red that engulf the islands of blue across the country. -áIt would be magnanimous of the-áadministration-áif they do something about it.
Educational Resources
sponsor supplied content
Educational Resources Archive
More Blogs from Rewired
AT&T has invested more in the US than any other firm in the past four years, but is its capex shrinking? Yes, no, maybe, for many reasons.
So North America is out of IPv4 addresses – that's incredibly anti-climactic. Unless it isn't, in which case you're in trouble.
As Masergy discovered, even working aggressively to make the business case for NFV in virtual CPE doesn't mean it's the answer everywhere.
AT&T, Verizon, NTT, Telefónica, CableLabs, Cox and Masergy are all bringing a real-world view of their NFV deployments to date to Dallas next week.
When even social service benefits require online access, 365 Data Centers is helping one Bay Area agency keep its clients connected.
From The Founder
The comms industry is rallying to the cause of open, independent interoperability testing.
Flash Poll
Live Streaming Video
CLOUD / MANAGED SERVICES: Prepping Ethernet for the Cloud
Moderator: Ray LeMaistre Panelists: Jeremy Bye, Leonard Sheahan
Telecom Innovators Video Showcase
Tail-f, Cisco & What the Future Holds

10|9|15   |   8:17   |   (0) comments

Steve Saunders meets with Tail-f's Director of Technology, Carl Moberg, in Stockholm to discuss becoming part of Cisco, ETSI MANO, virtualization and the need to combine science and business in order to create opportunities for service providers.
LRTV Interviews
Broadband Forum Embraces SDN & NFV

10|9|15   |   02:42   |   (0) comments

At Gigabit Europe 2015, Robin Mersh and Kevin Foster from the Broadband Forum explain how the industry body is adapting to meet the SDN, NFV and cloud needs of the access network sector.
LRTV Interviews
Top Tips for FTTH Operators

10|8|15   |   02:26   |   (0) comments

At Gigabit Europe 2015, Ventura Team co-founder Richard Jones talks about some of the key business case considerations for FTTH network operators.
LRTV Interviews
M-net Calls for FTTx Unity

10|8|15   |   03:45   |   (0) comments

At the Gigabit Europe event, Jörn Schoof from M-net, the Munich city network operator, calls for industry collaboration on fiber broadband access rollouts.
LRTV Documentaries
The Business Case Challenge for NFV

10|7|15   |   03:47   |   (0) comments

Virtual CPE is one of the early success stories for network functions virtualization, as service providers are finding flexible, programmable CPE solves a lot of logistics problems and reduces their cost. But even here, Masergy Communications faced a business case challenge, says CTO Tim Naramore.
LRTV Interviews
JT Offers Some Gigabit Lessons

10|7|15   |   4:08   |   (1) comment

Barna Kutvolgyi, managing director, Global Consumer, at JT, the incumbent operator on the island of Jersey, talks about how other service providers can learn from his company's gigabit broadband rollout experiences.
LRTV Interviews
AT&T's Chiosi on the Potential of Open Source

10|6|15   |   06:27   |   (0) comments

AT&T Distinguished Network Architect Margaret T. Chiosi talks to Light Reading's Carol Wilson about the potential for open source technology to liberate communications service providers.
LRTV Interviews
Network Security in a Gigabit World

10|6|15   |   05:52   |   (0) comments

Masergy's James Harrison talks about some of the network security and data center issues network operators need to consider as they expand their broadband services portfolios.
LRTV Documentaries
Telefónica: In Search of Virtual Simplicity

10|5|15   |   07:30   |   (0) comments

Francisco-Javier Ramon Salguero, head of Telefónica's NFV initiative, admits virtualization initially means greater complexity, but with the right abstraction layer, it is possible to create a services-driven network architecture. He explains how Telefónica's current trials and initiatives are aimed at doing that, and what his company and other carriers need to ...
LRTV Interviews
Gigabit Europe Takeaways

10|5|15   |   03:47   |   (0) comments

Participants from the inaugural Gigabit Europe event in Munich share their key takeaways from the conference.
Women in Comms Introduction Videos
Intel Urges Women to Take Advantage of Their Seat at the Table

10|5|15   |   4:27   |   (1) comment

Have inclusive and constructive conversations, attach a bigger meaning to your work and get involved in the cause, Intel's Monique Hayward advises women in comms.
LRTV Interviews
BT Updates on Plans

10|2|15   |   03:16   |   (2) comments

Peter Bell, CIO at Openreach, the access network division at UK incumbent BT, provides an update on the operator's trials and how Openreach is planning to deploy the broadband technology in its street cabinets.
Upcoming Live Events
October 14-15, 2015, New Orleans Ernest N. Morial Convention Center, New Orleans, LA
November 5, 2015, Hilton Santa Clara, Santa Clara, CA
November 17, 2015, Santa Clara, California
December 1, 2015, The Westin Times Square, New York City
December 2, 2015, The Westin Times Square, New York City
All Upcoming Live Events
Network appliances have a strong value proposition in today's networks and will continue to do so in the NFV and SDN-enabled networks of tomorrow.
Hot Topics
M&A Speculation Swirls Around Juniper
Ray Le Maistre, Editor-in-chief, 10/6/2015
Cisco's Chambers Rules Out Political Bid
Mitch Wagner, West Coast Bureau Chief, Light Reading, 10/6/2015
Cord Cutting? 'Fraid so.
Brett Sappington, 10/7/2015
Infinera Fleshes Out Its Metro 100G Story
Ray Le Maistre, Editor-in-chief, 10/7/2015
Cisco Makes 'Martian' Connection
Mitch Wagner, West Coast Bureau Chief, Light Reading, 10/9/2015
Like Us on Facebook
Twitter Feed
Webinar Archive
BETWEEN THE CEOs - Executive Interviews
With so many new and exciting communications technologies now under development, it's easy to get caught up in the industry's escalating hype cycle. That's why the ...
Last week saw a big day in the 15-year history of Light Reading when Editor-in-Chief Ray Le Maistre and I were invited to interview the Deputy Chairman and Rotating ...
Cats with Phones
"What?! I'm on with Finisar about their stock price tanking" Click Here