From the Top

From the Top: Smart and Gig-Capable: Two Reasons to Celebrate

It’s easy to forget just how much you have accomplished in the day-to-day grind of modern life. Taking time to celebrate successes has become somewhat of a luxury in our world of nonstop email traffic, shortened lunch breaks and the eternal search to discover “the next big thing” before our competitors do.

But celebrations are in order, and in this issue of Rural Telecom we devote a full 12 pages to doing just that in a special report highlighting the impressive growth of two programs that have become hallmarks for NTCA–The Rural Broadband Association in just a few short years.

Our Smart Rural CommunitySM and Gig-Capable Provider Certification Programs recently celebrated four years and one year of life, respectively, and boy have we collected some great stories in that time about the innovations our selected members have enabled by building smart broadband networks capable of delivering the internet’s fastest speeds under the toughest of circumstances.

One of my favorite stories is of a telco that deployed broadband services enabling a local hospital to receive video instruction from a telemedicine physician 700 miles away to treat a 10-year-old girl who was involved in a traumatic ATV accident. Not only did the service save the girl’s life, it also proved that distance and density do not have to be barriers to health and happiness.

This is, of course, not the first time we have celebrated many of these deserving innovators, nor will it be the last. Many have been featured in the pages of this magazine over the years, and more received praise during our recent Fall and Regional Conferences. That tradition will no doubt continue in the future. But in the spirit of amplifying their stories and increasing awareness of their good work, I encourage you to read on—and then share your copy with a friend, colleague or legislator.

Congratulations to all of our Smart Rural Community Showcase Award winners and Certified Gig-Capable Providers. Cheers to your success!

Laura Withers
Director of Communications


Training Goes Beyond Techs

Not too long after you read this, I’ll be attending a conference that will help train me for my future work here at NTCA. The association encourages and supports professional development, budgeting for individual training in the expectation that it will make us better, more productive employees.

The need to stay up to date with professional development is crucial at most places of employment, and that certainly applies to technology providers such as yourselves. With demand for broadband only increasing, tech employees need to stay current on how their networks are delivering content to customers— and how to overcome challenges when they arise.

In this issue, Masha Zager looks at how today’s “vastly more complex” networks are requiring techs to become “all things to all people,” learning skills applicable to outside plant, the central office and to the customer premise.

But training demands extend beyond just one type of telco worker. A new Wisconsin-based training program emphasizes managerial skills in addition to tech skills, resulting in a holistic training program. Said a program representative, “A good manager should know what everyone does. If everyone has a view of how the company and the industry works, it will help them be a better installer or customer service representative.” Whether through certificate programs, online classes or hands-on training in the field, make sure your employees—from techs to CSRs—are equipped to handle any customer concerns about the delivery of the essential services you offer. When you’re marketing your services as the best a customer can purchase, credibility counts. What better way to ensure customer confidence than through a workforce trained to address any customer query?

Christian Hamaker
Editor, Rural Telecom