NTCA, OPASTCO merge into one common organization

The National Telecommunications Cooperative Association (NTCA) and the Organization for the Promotion and Advancement of Small Telecommunications Companies (OPASTCO) on Wednesday decided to merge their operations into one common organization.

Beginning on March 1, the new organization will be called NTCA, The Rural Broadband Association.

As a combined entity, the new group will serve 952 smaller telcos, including 580 NTCA and 372 OPASTCO members, respectively.

"All rural telecom companies and the communities they serve will benefit from the policy strength we gain as a unified industry," said Shirley Bloomfield, CEO of NTCA.

Following many months of discussion and negotiation, NTCA and OPASTCO conducted member votes for unification at the Rural Telecom Industry Meeting & EXPO in Lake Buena Vista, Fla. The two organizations serve rural telecommunications companies nationwide.  

NTCA and OPASTCO said in a release announcing the merger that the new organization will give its smaller rural telco members a bigger voice in shaping regulatory issues like Universal Service Fund (USF) reform. Another issue relevant to the members of these organizations is the Connect America Fund (CAF).

In 2011, the FCC developed a proposal to realign the Universal Service Fund (USF) and the Intercarrier Compensation (ICC) structure by refocusing the Universal Service Fund toward funding new broadband rollouts. Last April, the FCC proposed a number of changes to rework Phase I of the Connect America Fund, including the definition of "underserved" areas and how to best allocate the remaining $185 million in broadband funds.

For more:
- see the release

Year in Review 2011: FCC's USF and ICC reform

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