What’s Around The Corner (WATC) returns from a holiday break with many issues facing the rural broadband industry in 2018. The FCC is poised to invest an additional $540,000,000 over the next decade in federal universal service funding for both ACAM and legacy carriers, assuming the FCC is able to reach agreement on the allowed expenses issue; the administration promises yet to be defined infrastructure funding, with rumors persisting of some form of state block grants; opportunities are available for some companies with the CAF II auction; the possible commencement of performance testing related to carrier achieved speeds; and the recently passed federal tax reform is anticipated to reduce certain revenue requirement calculations due to the lowering of the corporate tax rate to 21%. These issues will provide some interesting discussion for us as we find solutions to the challenges in 2018.

Each year some of our friends and colleagues reach the goal of retirement. As we completed 2017 and begin the battle in 2018, I am honored to say thank you to two special industry colleagues who completed their careers during 2017 that I had the pleasure of working with.

Dave Dengel retired as CEO of Copper Valley Telecom in Valdez, Alaska. Dave was an industry leader in the state of Alaska and was one of the principal architects of the Alaska Plan. Dave’s forward thinking and leadership positioned Copper Valley for the next decade. As Dave begins his retirement, he and his wife Leila recently became grandparents with the birth in January of granddaughter Hope Grace.

Linda Burton of Sierra Telephone completed her distinguished career in California. Linda was a tireless advocate for her company and the companies in California at both the state and federal level. Linda was always eager to volunteer for whatever challenge arose in Sacramento or Washington, D.C. Anyone who can organize visits to the entire California congressional delegation deserves a tip of the hat! Best wishes to her in her well-deserved next chapter of life.

For those of us who continue to fight the fight in 2018 and beyond, we are faced with the question of what part of the next big challenge are we ready to help solve going forward? My hope is that you find a battle worth fighting for your company. Best wishes in the New Year!

As we proceed in 2018 with the WATC series, please contact Jeff Smith on 503.612.4409, if you have any questions.