In the wake of a terrific Legislative & Policy (L&P) Conference last week, I wanted to take a step back and talk about our policy plan for 2013—what it is and how we’re doing on it. The core objectives in that plan drive everything that NTCA staff does, with every possible initiative, meeting, “ask,” letter or filing viewed through the prism of, “What does this do to move the ball forward?” I provided an overview at the L&P Conference, and I’ve done the same at a number of state association meetings and other events over the past several months. At the L&P conference, however, I had so many people indicate that the overview helped in “connecting the dots” between various efforts that I thought it might make sense to share it a bit more broadly.
The core objectives of our policy plan haven’t changed significantly since 2012, but they’ve evolved as time marches on and developments transpire. For example, our two primary themes remain essentially the same. We need to: (1) create regulatory certainty; and (2) build a broadband future. By contrast, in 2010 and 2011, those themes were “restoring” regulatory certainty and “saving” rural broadband. Starting in 2012, we realized that “restoring” and “saving” were too rooted in the past, as if we wanted to “put things back the way they were” rather than evolve into something bigger and better. It struck us that just as telcos are innovators in their communities—you’re so much more than telephone companies now—we needed our policy plan to look and speak to the future as well. Moreover, “restoring” and “saving” simply aren’t enough. The fact is that the regulatory fabric was already fraying and needed updating beyond mere “restoration,” and just “saving” rural broadband is insufficient given that you need to keep upgrading your networks to meet consumer demands and remain reasonably comparable.
Our plan therefore focuses now on “creating” regulatory certainty through clear rules of the road for a 21st century communications market that relies upon long-term investments, and “building” future-proof rural broadband rather than merely preserving what is in place. Within these two core objectives, we then have four primary asks that NTCA staff tries to keep in mind at each turn, whether it’s in FCC meetings and filings, congressional visits, court pleadings, outreach efforts or anything else where we interact with folks who can make a difference for rural broadband.
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