What is a Smart Rural Community?

Nancy J. White is the right person to answer the question, “What is a Smart Rural Community?”.  As the General Manager of one of the first recipients of this award some ten years ago, White understands what it takes to receive this highly coveted designation. Fundamentally, it is about helping the community take advantage of the capabilities of the modern communications network.

White, who is currently Vice President of Business Development for National Cooperative Services Corporation (NCSC) is an avid supporter of NTCA’s effort to recognize the role of its members in using their networks to improve their communities. As she points out in the above interview, the network is table stakes. To qualify for the SRC designation, a network must have at least 50% fiber coverage; most NTCA members probably qualify as, collectively, they cover 80% of their respective footprints with fiber to the home networks.

It’s About Helping the Community

SRC is about helping the community use the network for things like telehealth, work from home, and tele-education. She provides an example of how one woman was able to start a local business that ships baby clothes worldwide. The flexibility allows her to stay at home with her young children.

Another example of how a smart rural community approach helped foster new opportunities is given in a 2015 interview wtih NCTC CTO Clint Carter. Carter describes how he was able to return home to help his community because of NCTC’s technology strategy. These are the types of examples that help economic and real estate development leaders bring in new opportunities for their communities.   

A Recognized Brand for Trusted Broadband & More

White explains that the SRC program is a platform for telling the stories of how NTCA members help their communities. The branding transcends county and state lines. It is a recognition of the value of the network combined with the services it enables. As seen in the above video, there are signs that communities install to show their pride in being designated an SRC.

Recognizing that their members serve beyond traditional rural areas, there is branding and designation for the Smart Connected Community and the Smart Tribal Community.  Beyond branding, NTCA has fun ways, such as the coffee cup challenge, to use the program as a tool to engage with the leaders in the local community.

It also is a differentiator when applying for state and federal funding programs. It provides a proof point of an operator’s ability to build and operate a network that provides value to the community. This program is not only smart for the community but it is a smart way for the operator to show off its capability with minimal effort.

ViodiTV coverage of NTCA’s SRC Live courtesy of Calix and NTCA.

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