Here we are in the words of Yogi Berra, “De Ja Vu all over again.” Last year at this time I reported on the concerns of HCTC directors and management, about the political and economic situation facing our great country. Well, here we are one year later still concerned, as much if not more, than we were at this time last year because of some proposed changes by the U.S. Congress and the Federal Communications Commission (FCC). These changes would have a tremendously adverse effect on telecommunication cooperatives and small telecommunication companies.
The present administration in Washington D.C. has mandated that all Americans will have equal access to broadband services. The FCC has come forth with the National Broadband Plan. “Equal access to all Americans”, sounds great doesn’t it? Not so fast my friends. It is amazing what you can hear by just listening. So, how can anyone say that 4 is equal to 100? The FCC proposed plan contends that 4 mega bytes for rural folks is equal to 100 mega bytes for urban folks. There is something inherently wrong with that kind of thinking. On top of that, Congress is debating doing away with the funding mechanism that has made it possible for cooperatives and small companies to provide high cost rural areas with comparable telephone services at comparable rates to urban areas. This change in funding would be a major setback for cooperatives, small telephone companies, and rural America in general. This funding mechanism change is part of the National Broadband Plan. There is no common sense in any plan that mandates a major project and then does way with the funding to make it feasible and viable. Congress and the FCC don’t understand the dynamics and needs of rural America.
Because of the situation in Washington D.C., Hill Country Telephone Cooperative, along with the N.T.C.A. and some other organizations, has taken on a lead role to try to educate Congress and the FCC. HCTC General Manager Delbert Wilson has traveled to Washington D.C. on multiple occasions to testify before the U.S. Congress and the FCC about the needs and requirements for telecommunication services in rural America. The HCTC directors, who represent each of you as coop members, have been attending conference meetings to gain new education and insight and to influence industry leaders who represent and make decisions on what is best for all rural cooperatives such as HCTC.
In spite of the situation in Washington D.C., your Hill Country Telephone Cooperative continues to expand its service offerings, its service area-through its subsidiary Hill Country Telecommunications, and make progress towards its goal of becoming a totally fiber optic network company. Reaching this goal will allow HCTC to provide television service superior to the many satellite services available. This goal will soon be a reality, and will solidify HCTC’s place among the leaders in telecommunication service providers. In this time of uncertainty, rest assured that your Hill Country Telephone Cooperative is working harder than ever to provide the very best service possible, stay on the cutting edge of technology, and represent and convey your needs, as rural coop members, to the rest of the world. HCTC will lead you into the future of telecommunications.