Discuss Policies Hindering Future Rural Broadband Investment
RTC Officials Meet with Congressional Representatives
Representatives from Reservation Telephone Cooperative (RTC) met with Congressional representatives in Washington, D.C., last week to discuss the significant impact of small communications providers like RTC in delivering consumers in northwest North Dakota affordable broadband services.
RTC representatives not only met with Senators Heidi Heitkamp and John Hoeven but also met with Congressional representatives from urban areas to educate them on issues facing rural areas. RTC representatives spoke about the importance of broadband for rural business development and growth and also the ways that broadband brings education, public safety, telemedicine and other opportunities to rural consumers. The group provided an overview of its service area and highlighted the types of service it provides to business and consumers, as well as pointing to the number of jobs RTC provides in the state and other services that contribute to the area's economic development.
RTC representatives urged congressional delegates to help them continue to provide the services their communities need at an affordable rate by ensuring Universal Service Fund (USF) and intercarrier compensation reforms do not deter future broadband investment in rural America and penalize companies like RTC who have already invested in broadband network infrastructure. RTC representatives explained that cuts to this important fund are putting existing investment in rural broadband at risk and discouraging future investment in new broadband-capable networks, which may lead to increased rates for telephone, broadband and other services.
RTC representatives also urged congressional members to further investigate the problem of long-distance telephone calls not going through or resulting in "dead air." Many rural telephone customers all over the country have experienced these issues and often blame their local telephone companies, but rural telecommunications companies are not at fault. It is believed that most rural call completion problems stem from a practice called least-cost routing (LCR), in which long-distance carriers send calls destined for rural consumers to intermediate providers to reduce expenses. In many cases, they are not properly routing the call to its destination and, as a result, some calls have poor call quality and many calls are not connecting at all. This means rural consumers may be missing important phone calls, and they may not even know it.
RTC representatives were in Washington to participate in the Legislative & Policy Conference hosted by NTCA-The Rural Broadband Association, April 22-24. More than 500 rural telecom representatives from all over the country gathered in the nation's capital for educational briefings about emerging rules and regulations and other industry issues. They also took part in visits to policymakers on Capitol Hill and the FCC.