Telecommunications Groups Agree to Unite Efforts, Resources

After nearly two years of talks, two national telecom associations will unify to form one voice and increase the policy strength and business opportunities for their industry.

The National Telecommunications Cooperative Association (NTCA) and the Organization for the Promotion and Advancement of Small Telecommunications Companies (OPASTCO) recently announced their plans to unite following a member vote earlier this month. Beginning March 1, the new organization will be known as NTCA, The Rural Broadband Association.

Everybody was pretty committed to an open dialogue, open-mindedness, the give-and-take that was required, and very committed to the industry.

“The future of the rural telecom industry depends on its ability to rally resources and work together to find new revenue opportunities,” said John Rose, president of OPASTCO, in a joint statement. “Unification of our industry is the first step to ensuring the long-term prosperity of rural broadband networks and the communities they serve.”

The organizations worked closely over the years and agreed on many policy issues, so combining resources and efforts made sense, and it was something the groups had explored in the past, said Wendy Mann, CAE, director of communications for NTCA. Also, “[OPASTCO’s] CEO was retiring, so it seemed like an opportune time to revisit the conversation.”

“Everybody was pretty committed to an open dialogue, open-mindedness, the give-and-take that was required, and very committed to the industry,” Mann said. “One of the nicest things was that everyone was willing to put aside certain views and really put the industry first, and that was most important to us in the long run.”

Even though the outcome seemed inevitable during the discussion between NTCA and OPASTCO, Mann said it’s the more trivial details that have their offices in a whirlwind leading up to the new organization’s official launch next week.

“From the moment that the vote occurred on February 6, the clock started ticking on getting all new letterhead, all new business cards, all new stationeries, and getting [press] releases out,” she said. “And that’s just on our side. It’s been pretty fast-paced because we set a very short timeline for that transition to occur, but there’s a lot of support, collegiality, and camaraderie within our organization and theirs, trying to do the right thing and get done what needs to be done.”

Having that positive culture in both organizations has really helped make the transition easier and is a testament to the members they serve, said Mann.

“We serve rural telecommunications companies, and those people, they’re honest, and they’re salt of the earth,” she said. “I think the culture of both of our organizations reflect that culture of being true to people and being kind and open and willing to lend a hand whenever. That trust is reflected in what’s happening now with our unification.”

“Right now we’re going to be focused on the day to day, just making sure that all of the membership feels that they’re engaged and involved and have a say in what’s happening,” Mann said. “At this point everyone is truly committed to the effort and the outcome is going to be reflected in the positive things that happen for the industry moving forward.”

Rob Stott

By Rob Stott

Rob Stott is a contributing editor for Associations Now. MORE

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