Thanks to Dave Russell at Calix for passing on notice of a webinar hosted by the Rural Broadband Coalition, a membership group of rural utilities, mostly rural electric utilities, but also includes municipalities. I listened in on Monday. Based on the reaction of participants, this could lead to something big!
If your community and surrounding rural area is under-served or un-served and is served by a rural electric cooperative, you should contact your cooperative manager to either review Monday’s webinar (https://cc.readytalk.com/cc/playback/Playback.do?id=3ac9uh) or participate in this Thursday’s repeat event (https://cc.readytalk.com/cc/s/registrations/new?cid=uvo81olo5ikk) . Maybe even volunteer to head to their office and listen in together!
The FCC recently decided to check the interest levels of rural electric providers in offering broadband and in using Connect America Funds (CAF) to do so. CAF is a newer FCC program, utilizing Universal Service Funds (USF), designed to spur the deployment of broadband in un- and under-served areas. These funds are currently reserved for “eligible telecom carriers.”
Interested utilities are asked to submit a non-binding “Expression of Intent” to the FCC to indicate their project area, the technology solution, and estimated costs and subsidy requested. RTC has some tools available to help the utilities complete this task. The purpose of this process is to help the FCC understand the industry interest and the scale of the need.
For more information, your local electric cooperative can contact Alyssa Clemsen, Manager of Industry Affairs, Rural and Infrastructure Issues, at 202-833-6829 or Alyssa.email@example.com or http://ruralbroadbandcouncil.org/.