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The NTCA Smart Rural Community Initiative. Jessica Golden Strategic Outreach Manager NTCA—The Rural Broadband Association Mountain Connect Rural Broadband Summit 2014. Trade association, represents 900 small, rural communications providers.

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The NTCA Smart Rural Community Initiative

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The NTCA Smart Rural Community Initiative

Jessica Golden

Strategic Outreach Manager

NTCA—The Rural Broadband Association

Mountain Connect

Rural Broadband Summit


  • Trade association, represents 900 small, rural communications providers.

  • Provide reliable broadband, voice and data communications services in hardest-to-serve corners of the country.

  • Serve 5% of the nation’s subscribers across 40% of the nation’s land mass.

  • Besides telephone service, also provide video, wireless services, home security, computer repair, data storage.

  • Members work with community anchor institutions, partners.

The Rural Challenge…(s)

…or Rural.

Misconceptions about Rural


Honey Boo Boo






“Most Americans could care less if farming and ranching disappear, so long as they get their burgers and fries.”

- The End of the American Farm

Historic LOW of Rural Members of Congress

Why does this matter?

1. Policy Makers in DC and Denver make decisions that affect ALL of us.

2. If Rural residents don’t fight for rural, who will?

En Sum: Challenges to Rural Broadband Advocacy, Providers and Consumers

  • “Your fault for living there” mentality (Politics)

  • Disconnect between urban and rural relevance for consumers (Cultural Disconnect)

  • Regulatory Uncertainty (Regulation)

Rural Relevance

“Why don’t you just move to a big city?”

We have to fight for rural relevance:

  • 40% of our nation’s military comes from rural America

  • Natural resources: fuel, water

  • Food

  • Manufacturing

  • Urban areas rely on exurban and rural areas for environmental quality, recreation and tourism.

    Urban-Rural Interdependence

Economic Impact: Urban-Rural Connection

Smart Rural Communities Summit

  • April 2012: NTCA convenes 50+ leaders from government and “vertical industries” of education, agriculture, health care, public safety

  • Releases white paper exploring Smart Rural Community concept

= ?

What is a Smart Rural Community?

A Smart Rural Community invokes broadband-enabled intelligent networks to support innovative applications for

  • Education

  • Health care

  • Utilities

  • Public safety

  • Agriculture

  • Economic development

A Smart Rural Community – more than the broadband connection

A Smart Rural Community embraces teams of collaborative leaders standing behind and promoting the technology.

From manufacturers and application developers to telecommunications providers and, ultimately, the users who adopt and employ broadband-enabled services, the Smart Rural Community is a team effort of continuing development and evolution.

The Message

  • The vitality of any community is dependent on access to quality health care, education, public safety, and economic opportunities.

  • Rural communities in particular face unique access challenges.

  • Broadband reduces challenges by providing rural communities with quality, cost-effective opportunities access to new technologies, gain

    new skills and reach new markets.


  • Hosted small SRC gatherings including:

    • Roundtable Discussions

    • Broadband 101

    • Intro to SRC at USDA

    • SRC Event at Fall Conf. w/ NTCA members

  • Greater inclusion of NTCA member stories

  • What was next? Pilot?

Building Smart Rural Communities

2 Major Realizations:

  • We can’t do this alone.

  • We already have some incredible members working on very “smart” initiatives

Problem 1:“We can’t do this alone”Solution 1: Advisory Committee

SRC Advisory Committee

NTCA Associate Member Advisory Council (Chair)NTCA Innovation & Business Opportunity Committee (Chairs)American Farm Bureau Federation

American Telemedicine Association (ATA)CalixCHR Solutions Dickey Rural Networks Discovery Education

John Deere

MapCom SystemsNational Information Solutions CooperativeNational Rural Economic Developers AssociationNational Rural Electric Cooperative AssociationNational Rural Telecommunications CooperativeRural School and Community TrustTCAVeterans Health Administration's Office of Rural Health

Problem 2: We already have members doing smart, incredible things.Solution 2: Break SRC into 2 Phases

SRC Showcase – Phase I

SRC Showcase:Recognizing Smart Rural Communities

  • Smart Rural Communities have been built

  • Providing a vehicle to inform, educate and inspire

  • Expert peer review

Showcasing the Best and Brightest

June-July 2013

First Round of Applications Accepted

September 2013

Announcements of winners at NTCA Fall Conference

June 2, 2014

Application for 2nd round of SRC applications opened.

July 11, 2014

Deadline to Apply

2013 Results:

  • Nearly two-dozen applicants

  • Highlighted industries: education; health care; national security

  • Review and scoring by Advisory Committee

And the award goes to…

Showcase and Paradigm Awards

Selected 7 winners from Kansas, Minnesota, Florida and North Dakota. All other first-time applicants were designated as “trailblazers”

But…How were winners selected?

Major scoring criteria/Telling the Smart Story

  • Use of broadband in meeting needs of major industries, including commercial, government, and not-for-profit

  • Recruitment, retention, and expansion of commercial, government, and not-for profit industries

  • Economic and societal impacts

  • Efforts for the future

  • Collaboration with local leaders

West Central Telephone, Sebeka, Minn.


SRC Pilot – Phase II

“We’ve only just begun . . .”

  • The goal is to build

  • Showcasing and mentoring

  • The network of ideas: Alumni

  • Pilots

What the SRC Winners Have Done Since…

Road Signs

Events with Policy Makers


Other Events NTCA Has Hosted

  • 2013 Regional Meetings, 2014 Annual Meeting, IP Possibilities

  • Broadband Agriculture Summit 2014

  • Broadband Adoption Summit 2014

  • Educational Broadband for K-12 and Beyond (w/ Sen. Begich (Alaska)

Rural Relevance

  • Sec. Vilsack’s Speech

  • Call to Action

  • Quote from “The End of the American Farm”:

    • “Americans could care less if farming and ranching disappear, so long as they get their burger and fries.”

Rural Relevance

Rural is Cool Campaign (#ruraliscool)

Food For Thought

  • How can we involve you more?

  • How do we increase rural telco communication with third parties?

  • Are these stories of collaboration with third parties familiar to you?

  • What would you like to see happen with this program?

Contact Information

Jessica Golden

NTCA—The Rural Broadband Association


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