The Rural Telephone Finance Cooperative (RTFC) was incorporated in October 1987 amidst an unsettled political and operating environment for the rural telecommunications industry.
Beginning in the early 1980s, the future availability of government financing for the nation’s rural independent commercial and cooperative telephone companies was in a state of flux. For nearly a decade, various budget proposals attempted to either eliminate or severely cut back funding for loan programs offered to telephone companies through the Rural Electrification Administration (REA), now the Rural Utilities Service (RUS); the Rural Telephone Bank; and the Federal Financing Bank.
While industry and Congressional support played a significant role in maintaining loan levels through the budget battles of the ’80s, it became apparent to many industry leaders that independent telephone companies would need an alternative source of financing to ensure their viability in a rapidly evolving and technology-oriented industry. Government funding could not continue to meet the needs of the changing and diversified telecom industry.
Working together, telecom industry leaders and the National Rural Utilities Cooperative Finance Corporation (CFC)—the primary supplemental lender to the nation’s electric cooperatives—created RTFC as the industry’s first source of private financing established solely for the rural telecommunications industry.
Once in operation, RTFC began to experience steady membership growth and geared up to offer a variety of loan products. As technology continued to drive economic growth in rural America, RTFC was well positioned to expand its loan portfolio and enhance its role as a reliable lender to the telecommunications industry.
Today, RTFC has close to 500 members and is proud to have provided the rural telecommunications industry with billions of dollars in financing.