Those celebrating NCTC’s Gig Certification included (l-r): Nancy White, NCTC President/CEO; Guy Holliman, NCTC board attorney; Glen Hardcastle, NCTC board chairman; Jerry Kirby, NCTC board secretary; Randy Harston, NCTC board member; FCC Commissioner Jessica Rosenworcel; Calvin Graves, NCTC board member; and Shirley Bloomfield, CEO of NTCA- The Rural Broadband Assoc.

Speaking at the Lafayette City Hall, Federal Communications Commissioner Jessica Rosenworcel said broadband Internet access is critical for the future of rural development, and that NCTC is one of the telcos making it a reality. “Broadband is not just a technology, it’s a platform for opportunity,” Rosenworcel told a crowd of more than 100 locals gathered for NCTC’s Gigabit Certification ceremony. “It is an essential part of civic and commercial life. No matter who you are or where you live, in Washington or Tennessee or any- where else, access to modern communications is what you need for a fair shot at 21st century success.” Rosenworcel headlined the Dec. 10 ceremony, in which NTCA–The Rural Broadband Association honored North Central as a Gig-Capable Provider. Other speakers included NTCA CEO Shirley Bloomfield, Lafayette Mayor Richard Driver and North Central CEO Nancy White. Bloomfield explained that the certification program was part of a national campaign to recognize telcos bringing advanced services to rural America — and that NCTC was one of only 50 telcos to receive the designation out of the nation’s 900 independent providers. “This connection is essentially 100 times faster speed than what the average household is able to access,” said Bloomfield. A gigabit is equal to 1,000 megabits per second (often referred to as a “meg”). Each of the speakers acknowledged that the strength of NCTC’s network goes far beyond its technical specifications to what it enables local people to do. “It’s not just the technology and what the speeds are … it’s about what it does for the community,” Rosenworcel said. In accepting the certification, White thanked the NCTC board for its leadership and the cooperative’s employees for their hard work the past five years in building a fiber network that has made such highspeed connections possible. Earlier in the day, Rosenworcel and Bloomfield met with local medical personnel and school officials to learn how NCTC’s network is improving their operations. They also heard from local students. “They know that if they, too, want a fair shot in the digital economy,” Rosenworcel said, “they need to be able to access the Internet at home at high speeds — to learn, to watch videos,