NTCA-The Rural Broadband Association has added two member programs – the Smart Tribal Community and the Smart Connected Community (STC and SCC) – to its Smart Rural Community (SRC) Network. The program recognizes small independent broadband providers that have helped facilitate advanced uses of broadband to help their communities.
Through the SRC program, NTCA seeks to encourage innovative implementation of broadband solutions and access to next-generation applications for distance learning, telehealth services, public safety and security, among others. The Smart Rural Community program provides educational programming, matching grant resources and an award program to recognize top-performing communities.
The new STC program is available to any SRC provider that offers broadband on Tribal lands. The first such community is Ya-Ta-Hey, NM, which is served by Sacred Wind Communications, a NTCA member.
The new SCC program is open to SRC providers who “serve incumbent or competitive service territories that demonstrate metropolitan characteristics.” GRM Networks and its Mi-Fiber LLC subsidiary (which serve the Des Moines, IA, metro area) and Home Telecom (which serves the Charleston SC region) are the first SCC providers.
“Our SRC providers are serving unique communities across the country, and we wanted to recognize the diverse growing SRC network with new opportunities for NTCA members that serve tribal lands and areas with metropolitan characteristics,” NTCA Chief Executive Officer Shirley Bloomfield said in a press release about the new NTCA Smart Rural Community categories.
NTCA members are community-based broadband providers serving rural markets and small towns. The association reported in December 2020 that average NTCA member offers gigabit service to nearly half (45.1%) of its service area – up from 25.3% in 2019.