The NTCA Smart Rural Community
Minnesota Telecom Alliance Fall Conference
October 10-11, 2013
• NTCA—The Rural Broadband Association
• Third Party Outreach: Rural Solidarity
• Smart Rural Community (SRC) Initiative
• Recognizing & Building Smart Rural
• Trade association, represents 900 small, rural
• Provide reliable broadband, voice and data
communications services in hardest-to-serve corners of
• 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,
Challenges to Rural Broadband
Advocacy, Providers and Consumers
• “Your fault for living there” mentality
• Disconnect between urban and rural
relevance for consumers (Cultural
• Regulatory Uncertainty: Universal Service
Fund Reform (Regulation)
“Why don’t you just move to a big
▫ Washington: Urban-centric mentality, have to
fight for rural relevance
40% of our nation’s military comes from rural
Natural resources: fuel, water
Urban areas rely on exurban and rural areas for
environmental quality, recreation and tourism.
“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
Third Party Outreach: Rural Solidarity
• Challenge: Political & Cultural Disconnect
• National and local strategic outreach:
agriculture, public safety, health care,
education, utilities, small business
• Tied together: reliance on broadband.
• Advocate stronger national & local rural
• Identify and join strategic coalitions
▫ Organizations Concerned about Rural Education
▫ Joint letters with third parties
• Organize summits
▫ Broadband Adoption Summit
▫ Smart Rural Communities Summit
Examples Third Party Contacts
American Farm Bureau Federation
American Library Association
American Telemedicine Association
Appalachian Regional Commission
Association of Public Land-Grant
Community Action Partnership
Delta Regional Authority
Farm Equipment Manufacturers Association
Housing Assistance Council
Independent Community Bankers of America
National Association of Counties
National Association of Development
National Education Association
National Farmers Union
• National Grange
• National Rural Electric Cooperative
• National Rural Economic Developers
• National Rural Health Association
• North American Equipment Dealers
• Rural Community Assistance Partnership
• Rural School and Community Trust
• Southern Rural Development Center
• U.S. Chamber of Commerce
• U.S. Department of Agriculture
• U.S. Department of Commerce
• U.S. Department Of Health & Human
• U.S. Department of Vet Affairs
• White House Rural Council
Smart Rural Communities Summit
April 2012: NTCA convenes 50+ leaders from
government and “vertical industries” of
education, agriculture, health care, public
Releases white paper exploring Smart Rural
What is a Smart Rural Community?
A Smart Rural Community invokes broadbandenabled intelligent networks to support innovative
A Smart Rural Community – more than
the broadband connection
A Smart Rural Community embraces teams of
collaborative leaders standing behind and promoting
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
What would Health Care look
like in a Smart Rural
• Barriers to Quality Health Care in Rural
▫ More chronic conditions (i.e. diabetes, heart disease, etc.)
▫ Rising health care costs
▫ Physician shortage
• Broadband Answer
▫ More efficient health care service.
▫ Greater integration of patient information.
▫ Enables more entities to access patients’ prior health
history and coordinate care more effectively.
SRC Health Care:
Real World Example
• Nex-Tech & Smith County Memorial Hospital,
Smith Center, Kan.
▫ Telemedicine and health information technology
(HIT) require high-speed broadband.
▫ Next-Tech provides broadband services to 11 hospitals
and 14 rural clinics.
▫ Using a broadband connection provided by Nex-Tech,
Smith County Memorial Hospital communicates with
specialists at larger regional hospitals to enable
remote medical diagnostics and monitoring.
What would Education look
like in a Smart Rural
• Barriers to Quality Education in Rural America:
▫ Scarcity of capable math and science teachers.
▫ Geographically unbalanced distribution of K-12 teachers.
▫ 40% of U.S. public school districts require online learning
▫ Especially affects AP, special ed, foreign language.
• Broadband Answer:
▫ Instruction via broadband can give schools that are
lacking these resources a chance to be on equal footing as
their more urban or well-equipped counterparts.
SRC Ed: Real World Example
• Halstad Telephone Co. (HTC) in Halstad, M.N.
▫ HTC part of consortium rural telecom providers,
connects 126 schools and 43 libraries in MN.
▫ HTC network allows students to take courses not
available to them: AP, foreign language, special
▫ HTC provided Discovery Education service to its 4 K-12
Additional SRC Applications
• Agriculture: Broadband enables farmers to increase the efficiency of their production
by reducing costs, increasing productivity and allowing them to tap into new markets.
• Utilities: In the form of Smart Grid technology, broadband and IP Connectivity helps
create a more efficient and responsive network for the
generation/transmission/distribution/consumption of power.
• Government Services: Governments can more easily interact with citizens online to
distribute information, conduct transactions, enable collaboration between agencies, etc.
• Public Safety: Broadband can enable public safety managers to track police/fire
resources, have medical responders access patient EHRs and transmit real-time
biometric readings, police to have access to criminal databases and on-site video
• 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
• Broadband reduces challenges by providing rural
communities with quality, cost-effective
opportunities access to new technologies, gain
new skills and reach new markets.
Building Smart Rural Communities
• Advisory Committee: recruiting expertise
• NTCA member voices in the process
• Expanding the circle of expertise
SRC Advisory Committee
NTCA Associate Member Advisory Council
National Rural Electric Cooperative Association
National Rural Telecommunications Cooperative
NTCA Innovation & Technology Committee
Rural School and Community Trust
American Farm Bureau Federation
Veterans Health Administration's Office of Rural
American Telemedicine Association (ATA)
Dickey Rural Networks
National Information Solutions Cooperative
National Rural Economic Developers Association
Recognizing Smart Rural Communities
• Smart Rural Communities have been built
• Providing a vehicle to inform, educate and
• Expert peer review
Showcase and Paradigm Awards
1. Blue Valley Tele-Communications, Inc. (Home, Kan.)
2. DRN (Ellendale, N.D.)
3. ITS Telecom (Indiantown, Fla.)
4. Mutual Telephone Company (Little River, Kan.)
5. Nex-Tech Inc. (Hays, Kan.)
6. Park Region Telephone/Otter Tail Telcom
7. West Central Telephone Association (Sebeka,
• Gardonville Cooperative Telephone Association
• Midstate Communications Inc. (Kimball, S.D.)
• Perry Spencer Rural Telephone Cooperative Inc. (St.
• Scott County Telephone Cooperative (Gate City, Va.)
• Spring Grove Communications (Spring Grove,
• Wilkes Telecommunications (Wilkesboro, N.C.)
• Nex-Tech Inc. (Norton, Kan.)
Major scoring criteria/Telling the
• Use of broadband in meeting needs of major
industries, including commercial, government,
• Recruitment, retention, and expansion of
commercial, government, and not-for profit
• Economic and societal impacts
• Efforts for the future
• Collaboration with local leaders