Telecommunications

Western

Mike Steffan, General Manager/CEO
Northwest Communications Cooperative (NCC)
Ray

Number of Employees: 43
Years in North Dakota: 57
Years with Company: 15

How has deregulation affected your company?
Deregulation has affected Northwest Communications Cooperative in several ways. It has provided an opportunity to provide deregulated services(outside of our regulated telecommunications core services), such as cable TV video services, wireless broadband(internet) services, cellular services, security systems installation and wiring of new businesses and residences. It also has brought us challenges in the competition to our services including cell phones, satellite TV, satellite internet services and installation of networks/phone systems.

What is the biggest challenge in your industry?
Right now the greatest challenge is looking to the future and accessing enough capital to complete our fiber to the premise facilities without harming the future viability of our Cooperative. The FCC is in the process daily of attacking the cost reimbursement formula to allow us to invest in the network of the future. The Bakken oil field activity creates additional strain on our resources and employee staffing.

Central

Steve Lysne, General Manager/CEO
SRT Communications, Inc.
Minot 

Number of Employees: 220
Years in North Dakota: 52
Years with Company: 18

How has deregulation affected your company?
Twenty years ago deregulation was a big issue for the telecommunications industry in that it allowed multiple providers to enter the local service and long distance market. Deregulation provided equal opportunities for both SRT and our competitors. Not only was it a benefit to the consumer, but SRT has done well in a competitive market. The biggest service challenge today is keeping up with the construction activity taking place in the Minot region due to the oil activity and last year’s catastrophic flooding.

What’s the next wave in telecommunications?
Today the focus is on broadband and mobility, which are the two biggest growth areas for SRT. As the largest telecommunications cooperative in North Dakota, we provide voice and broadband internet services on wireline and wireless networks. SRT’s core service offerings include broadband data and internet, wireless phones, traditional telecommunications, security systems, business services and television (in select areas).

Eastern

Jeff Wilson, General Manager 
Dickey Rural Networks
Ellendale

Number of Employees: 52
Years in North Dakota: 7
Years with Company: 7

How has deregulation affected your company?
Deregulation has led to a wave of innovation in telecommunications. Today we operate in an IP world which has brought about the convergence of voice, video, security and data in a multitude of applications. The bottom line is the new services have made a significant impact in improving the quality of life to our members in such areas as rural healthcare, education, entertainment, smart grid/smart farms and a multitude of other services.

What is the biggest challenge in your industry?
In the industry, as it relates to rural telecommunications providers, our biggest challenge is how can we invest and maintain our infrastructure in a regulatory environment at the federal level that does not understand or relate to rural America.  Our traditional funding sources that were predictable and certain are now very unpredictable and uncertain – potentially resulting in a reduction in the investment of infrastructure for many companies serving rural communities throughout our nation.

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