From the Top

Many Success Stories for Rural Broadband

Welcome to 2017. To start this New Year with a bang, we are not only looking forward to what the coming 12 months may bring, but also to all the rural telecom industry has accomplished over the past decade and a half. As Rick Schadelbauer notes in his feature on broadband trends (see “Broadband Trends Show Progress for Rural America,” p. 28), this industry has come a long way in a relatively short amount of time.

Here are a few or my favorite success stories from the recent past:

> Deployment Grows Dramatically: In the first decade of this century, NTCA members made huge progress bringing their communities online and at increasingly higher speeds of service. In a 2000 survey, 93% of NTCA member respondents reported offering customers dial-up internet service. By 2015, 85% of respondents’ customers could receive service of 10 Mbps or greater, while 71% could receive service of 25 Mbps or greater.

> A Leap of Faith Pays Off: Embracing an “if you build it, they will come” approach to broadband deployment was risky business for a while, but broadband adoption among rural consumers also made big gains under NTCA members’ care. In 2005, only 5% of NTCA survey respondents’ customers subscribed to broadband service of 1 Mbps or greater. By 2015, the overall take rate stood at 73%, only slightly below that for the nation as a whole.

> Broadband Gives Back to Rural and Urban America: Disproving the notion that rural broadband benefits only those who live and work nearby, the Hudson Institute found that in 2015 rural broadband providers contributed $24.1 billion to the U.S. gross domestic product. The institute’s findings were outlined in the report, “The Economic Benefits of Rural Broadband,” written in conjunction with NTCA’s Foundation for Rural Service, also finding that while $8.2 billion of that total, or 34%, accrued to rural areas, $15.9 billion, or 66%, accrued to urban areas.

While this industry has certainly seen its share of challenges over the past 15 years, the good far outweighs the bad. May 2017 bring us even more success stories to tell.

Laura Withers
Director of Communications


Making Sure Your Voice Is Heard

Working inside the Washington, D.C., Beltway puts me in a “bubble” when it comes to political discussions. Conventional wisdom abounds as government workers, contractors and representatives of various industries and interest groups seek to make their voices heard among the lawmakers and regulators in the nation’s capital.

But sometimes the conventional wisdom is wrong. As we all know by now, the inside-the-Beltway wisdom on last November’s election—that Hillary Clinton would win, as most polls indicated she would—didn’t pan out. Shortly after you receive this issue of Rural Telecom, Donald Trump will be inaugurated as president of the United States.

While establishment views were shaken by the presidential election, many readers of this magazine likely were less surprised. As our cover stories indicate, voters in rural America made enough of a difference in battleground states to provide President-elect Trump with his margin of victory. We’ll now see how Capitol Hill and federal regulators respond to the change in administrations.

Just as change affects presidential administrations and Congress, it affects publishing trends as well, opening the door to new possibilities for this magazine to engage with its readers. We value the trust you’ve placed in Rural Telecom to be the voice of your industry, and we look forward to continuing to serve you as this magazine evolves. To that end, starting with our next issue, watch your mailboxes (and mobile devices, for those of you with the Rural Telecom app) for some exciting changes to Rural Telecom. Together, we can raise the voice of rural America and make sure its interests are represented—no matter who’s in the Oval Office.

Christian Hamaker
Editor, Rural Telecom