The IP Evolution

Rural telcos lead the move to an Internet-based society

Today’s Internet is about so much more than websites and email. The technology behind that connectedness also drives shopping, entertainment and business operations, as well as vital public services and health care delivery.

Rural telecommunications companies have long been leaders in building broadband networks to serve their communities. In fact, small rural carriers had deployed broadband to 92 percent of their consumers as of 2010. “Broadband is the great equalizer in terms of allowing rural consumers to communicate with others and participate in civic and economic activities,” says Mike Romano, senior vice president of policy for NTCA—The Rural Broadband Association. “Rural telcos recognized that, and were early adopters of broadband technologies — trying to deploy networks that were built for tomorrow and not just for today.”

In a petition to the Federal Communications Commission (FCC), NTCA has highlighted “IP Interconnection” as part of its recommendations:

“There would be greater incentive to invest in IP-enabled networks,” reads an overview of the petition, “if the FCC were to confirm that the costs of allowing other carriers to use such networks can be recovered consistent with the (Telecommunications) Act.”

Policies such as this will help ensure that customers of rural and independent service providers like us continue to benefit from a robust broadband network. We will keep working on this issue alongside our fellow telecommunications providers. There are nearly 900 independent telcos united through NTCA. These numbers help ensure that rural consumers have input into our nation’s process of fueling a true IP Evolution.

Digital Citizenship

Take Action: What to do if your child is the victim of a cyberbully

Carissa Swenson is the owner and technology specialist of TechTECS, a technology training, education, consulting and support company.

Carissa Swenson is the owner and technology specialist of TechTECS, a technology training, education, consulting and support company.

In previous Digital Citizenship articles, I talked about what cyberbullying is and how to recognize if your child is the victim of a cyberbully. Now I am going to give you some ideas about how you can help your child if he or she is a victim of a cyberbully.

Ask them to stop. This seems like an obvious first step, but too many times the victim is afraid or hopes that by ignoring the bully they will go away. Encourage your child to come right out and ask the bully to stop.

Unfriend them. Help your child remove or block the bully from having the ability to contact them. If a bully has trouble reaching out to those they want to torment, they may give it up.

Report them. Use the “Report Abuse” button that most social media sites have. This can be effective in getting a bully removed from a site, even if you aren’t sure who the face is behind the profile.

Contact the authorities. Most states have harassment laws that protect victims from harassment that includes bullying. Sometimes a knock on the door from a police officer is all that is needed to help straighten kids out.

Bullying isn’t okay. It isn’t a rite of passage. I know… I was bullied as a child and I’d like to think that I would be the same headstrong person I am today if I wouldn’t have been picked on as a child.

Help your kids stand up for themselves if they are being bullied. After all, the next victim may not be as strong as your child, so you are helping protect others as well as your own family.

The IP Evolution

Regulations need to change to support consumer demand for standalone broadband

Basic telephone service provides a reliable connection with family members, emergency services and business opportunities. Many people today, however, use other methods for their daily conversations. Even in rural areas like ours, there is growing demand for standalone broadband Internet service that comes without the requirement of a landline phone.

America is undergoing an IP Evolution as technology makes it possible to connect and communicate via Internet Protocol, the standardized method used to transmit information between devices across the Internet.

America is undergoing an IP Evolution as technology makes it possible to connect and communicate via Internet Protocol, the standardized method used to transmit information between devices across the Internet.

While rural telecommunications companies across the nation understand and acknowledge this trend, their hands are tied when it comes to offering a true standalone broadband service. This is one of the areas telcos are addressing as a group through NTCA—The Rural Broadband Association.

NTCA has petitioned the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) to consider changes to rules that punish consumers who would prefer standalone broadband. “The Universal Service system needs to be designed to accommodate those consumers who are looking for broadband but may not want telephone service,” says Mike Romano, senior vice president of policy for NTCA.

Currently, telcos such as ours receive Universal Service support based upon whether a consumer chooses to take telephone service. Universal Service is a fee that is paid within the industry to ensure we achieve maximum value from the nation’s interconnected networks. Telecommunications companies pay into the fund, then draw from the fund based on the cost of serving consumers in their area.

“If a consumer only wants broadband, Universal Service support is lost for that consumer’s line — and their broadband rates skyrocket as a result,” explains Romano. “That is an unsustainable and, frankly, somewhat questionable public policy result of a system that is supposedly being repositioned to support broadband.

“We’ve urged the FCC to fix that,” Romano continues. “We have been in very productive conversations with them, but there are still many details to be ironed out.”

As your telecommunications provider, we will continue to work on this issue with our fellow companies through our national association. We will make sure rural consumers have a voice at the table as Washington develops regulations to guide us through the IP Evolution.

The IP evolution

Regulations must change to accelerate advances in technology

Two letters — IP — are changing the way we connect as a society. Short for “Internet Protocol,” the term refers to the standardized method used to transmit information between devices across the Internet. This goes well beyond accessing websites on your computer. IP technology is used today for connecting everything from security systems to appliances, and it enables you to share photos, watch TV, chat over video and more.

As innovation continues to bring us new ways to use IP technology, it is important for industry regulations to support the adoption of that technology. As your telecommunications provider, we are working with other companies like ours across the U.S. to encourage changes in FCC rules that will help consumers take advantage of the IP evolution.

We are doing this work through NTCA—The Rural Broadband Association. In coming issues of this magazine, we will take a look at incentives NTCA is recommending to the FCC. In the March/April issue, we will explore the idea of universal support for standalone broadband service — and explain why current rules prevent us from being able to sell a broadband connection without some type of phone line bundled with it.

The IP evolution is here, and our mission is to ensure your home and community are ready for all the benefits it brings.

 

FCC addressing rural calling issues

Rural telecommunications providers work through NTCA to encourage government action

By working together and being involved in the regulatory process, rural telecommunications providers are seeing progress toward resolving rural calling issues.

NTCA—The Rural Broadband Association represents the voice of rural providers across America. For three years, NTCA has been working with the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) on the issue of rural call completion, where subscribers in rural areas report significant problems receiving long-distance or wireless calls on their landline phones. These problems include failed connections and poor call quality.

The problem appears to lie in the fact that some long-distance and wireless carriers, in an effort to cut costs, are contracting with third-party service providers to route phone calls into rural areas.

In its latest ruling toward the end of 2013, the FCC took steps that the NTCA described in a statement as “positive developments for rural consumers and their loved ones who have suffered the frustration or fear of a call not completing, lost business or endured public safety concerns because of circumstances beyond their control.”

Shirley Bloomfield

Shirley Bloomfield

Shirley Bloomfield, CEO of NTCA, expressed gratitude for the FCC’s efforts, adding “there is still much work to be done to ensure that no consumer will be cut off from critical communications, but NTCA is hopeful that this order will help to minimize consumer confusion by precluding false ringing, provide immediate incentives for providers to better manage completion of their calls, give the FCC a useful tool in identifying bad actors for enforcement, and serve as a springboard for further conversations about what else remains to be done to achieve truly universal and seamless connectivity.”

As your telecommunications provider, we will continue to keep you updated on this important issue through the pages of this magazine.