Rural Broadband Workshop
The Rural Broadband Council (RBC) has been working with and for electric cooperatives and other utilities across the country to support their efforts to bring broadband services and fiber to their communities. Utilities are at the forefront of rural broadband and are deploying state-of-the-art broadband networks and offering robust, affordable and reliable broadband services in many areas that currently lack any broadband access whatsoever. More and more utilities are getting involved, and they are building broadband into their smart grid strategies, which creates synergies for utilities and their communities. Now utilities are poised to compete for access to part of the $18 billion in federal funding for rural broadband that will be made available later this year by the FCC, as part of Phase II of the Connect America Fund. Utilities are also uniquely positioned to access $5 billion in low cost federal loans from the USDA Rural Utilities Service, which is available for smart grid investments in fiber and other infrastructure.
This RBC Workshop is designed to help utilities develop strategies to coordinate with each other and access these sources of federal funding, and to identify other sources of funding that are available for rural broadband at the state level, as well. These other sources of funding include the FCC’s schools and libraries program, as well as its rural health care program, which can be leveraged to support rural broadband. Utilities that are considering deploying these networks and offering broadband services face a litany of business, technical and regulatory issues. Navigating the FCC’s rules and requirements to qualify and secure funding can be a challenge, especially for Companies that are unfamiliar with the FCC’s procedures. This event will share planning, strategy and implementation, as well as an update on the Connect America Fund, the E-rate program under the Universal Service Fund, reforms to the Lifeline program, an update on the FCC’s Rural Broadband Experiments, expanded enforcement of the Telephone Consumer Protection Act (TCPA) and the FCC’s proposed rules for copper retirement (and what that means for rural broadband). Utilities must remain vigilant regarding state issues as well, including issues related to pole attachments and rights-of-way litigation.
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