OPASTCO Summer 2008 Convention Highlightsclick here for the link to the OPASTCO overview video

If your business went away would anyone care? This thought-provoking question was posed by John Moore, a marketing consultant and former Starbucks and Whole Foods executive, at OPASTCO’s 2008 Summer Convention. His point was that a company that creates an emotional connection with their customers will be able to charge a premium compared to their competitors. He also stressed the importance of a company having a strong point of view, even though it will mean some people will simply not agree and not buy your product. Moore was just one of the many excellent speakers at OPASTCO’s Summer 2008 conference.  Click here to watch an excellent summary video edited by Roger Bindl.

A special thanks to ViodiTV at OPASTCO sponsors Innovative Systems and NeoNova. They are great friends to the industry and Viodi. Without their support, we wouldn’t have been able to memorialize the 2008 Summer OPASTCO convention in our 30+ segments and 90+ minutes of coverage. The videos highlighted in this issue are just a sample of what was aired on channel 37 of the convention hotel.  

FCC as a Broadband Story ClearinghouseClick here to go to the video interview with FCC Commissioner Taylor Tate

FCC Commissioner Deborah Taylor Tate reflected on Moore’s question and wondered if anyone would care if the FCC went away. She pointed out the importance of the independent telcos to their communities and how they would be missed if they suddenly disappeared. She emphasized that independent telcos and their communities need to continue to tell their stories to ensure they stay top of mind with policy-makers. Click here to watch the entire video and her comments as to how the FCC is trying to create a clearinghouse for rural broadband success stories.

Does the United States need a Chief Technical Officer? In this ViodiTV interview from the 2008 OPASTCO Summer Convention, FCC Commissioner Jonathan Adelstein suggested that a CTO of sorts is necessary to help tie together the disparate efforts and needs of various Federal agencies. Adelstein pointed out that the FCC represents one slice of what should be a pan-agency process to address broadband and applications that can affect programs such as health care, homeland security, low-income housing. He also discusses the intrinsic link between video and the deployment of broadband, as well as the importance of local management and ownership for the creation of robust rural economies.

Click here to watch a brief video interview with Hans Nilsson 
People on the Move: 
Hans Nilsson, recently retired from Bruce Telecom, received an award for his service on the OPASTCO board. Hans’ leadership and affable personality will be missed in the industry, but he has promised he will attend future OPASTCO events. 
Andy Brown, formerly of NRTC, is now with Bennet and Bennet. Congratulations to Hans and Andy. 

The Korner:  Industry Icons

As important as workshops and panels are to a conference, the real value is the human interaction that comes from face-to-face conversations. The OPASTCO conferences are unique in that they foster long-term relationships and friendships that are important for uniting the industry. It is definitely a family atmosphere at OPASTCO, as people literally grow up in the industry and many of these children become the new leaders for new times.

Click here to watch the video of Carlton Appelo discuss Babe HowardIt was fitting then that I was able to interview Wahkiakum West’s Carlton Appelo as he reflected on the recently passed W.S. ‘Babe’ Howard of Millington Telephone. Howard definitely had a point of view and was a larger than life character that made a difference, as can be seen in this video interview. The story could have been about Carlton, however, as he and his brother, Burton, started working his father’s switchboard during the depths of the depression. He was literally there at the start of the first television transition in 1939 and he served his country on Okinawa in World War II. He came back after the war and helped build a phone company and an industry. Look for more of our conversation with Appelo in future posts. 
Click here to watch video interview with Paul Eller of Yukon Telephone discussing the impact of Jack Rhyner on the independent telco industry.Another former OPASTCO President, Paula Eller of Yukon Telephone, reflected on the life of a key industry figure that started in the industry that at age 16. TelAlaska’s Jack Rhyner, who lost his battle with cancer a few months ago, worked tirelessly to ensure Alaska’s rural areas received the support necessary to bring telecom services to the most remote reaches. Eller, a pioneer in her own way, worked closely with Rhyner on these common goals.   She has seen and participated in many of the changes in the industry and her common-sense wisdom for balancing work and family have made an impact that would be sorely missed if she, her family and their company quit serving their community. 


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