Recently, a delegation from a Central Iowa rural broadband cooperative met with members of Iowa’s congressional delegation in Washington, D.C., to discuss the impact small communications providers make.
Partner Communications Cooperative joined more than 500 rural telecom representatives from across the United States for educational briefings about emerging rules and regulations and other industry issues. A PCC delegation also met with staff members of Iowa’s congressmen.
“It is imperative that we go to DC and communicate the reality of the cost of serving rural low density areas,” PCC manager Don Jennings said. “Joining our cooperatives’ efforts together gives us a bigger voice to communicate our message.”
PCC director Don Feld urged the congressional delegates to help small rural telecoms continue to provide the services their communities need at affordable rates by ensuring reforms do not deter future broadband investment in rural Iowa. The broadband cooperative has deployed next-generation “fiber to the home” technology in its Kellogg exchange, but has been forced to slow further deployment as a result of FCC reforms.
Partner Communications provides more than 5,000 connections of internet, video and voice service to members within its 324 square mile operating area, which includes Baxter and Kellogg in Jasper County.
Cuts to the Universal Service Fund have put existing investment in rural broadband at risk, PCC advisory board member Kevin Gifford said. Those cuts also “discourage future investment in new broadband-capable networks” by companies that serve low-population density markets, such as rural Jasper County, he added.
Partner Communications director Harlan Quick noted the importance of broadband for rural business development and growth. It also brings education, public safety, telemedicine and other opportunities to rural consumers, he said.