Better Broadband: How Telecommunications and Electric Companies Are Teaming Up To Get Broadband to Rural America

March 11, 2021
Shelby Skrhak

Delivering broadband to rural areas may not be an easy task, but it’s an important one – and one that broadband companies are increasingly eager to tackle.

Those companies may be accustomed to planning on their own, but, working hand-in-hand with electric companies, especially those like co-ops that thrive in rural markets, can lead to big benefits for the telecom company, the electric company and consumers.

“The interesting thing is electric co-ops already know how to thrive in a multi-consumer environment,” said Sean Middleton, Professional Engineer and Director of Strategy Operations with Finley Engineering. “They’ve been a one-to-many arrangement for years. They’ve been doing that with their electric infrastructure, so having the back-end system ready to establish a new business model? They’re ahead of the game on that.”

Michael Wood, National Market Manager for Utilities at Clearfield, said it’s understandable for companies, especially those used to working in rural spaces, to want to go it alone, but many times reaching out and working together with someone who already has experience can make the difference between a successful project and one that doesn’t reach its goals.

“Find that partner. Find someone to help. I’ve found that not only are consultants excellent sources, but they can oftentimes hook you up with people who have already done it in your world, in the co-op or the muni world for example,” Wood said. “Nothing helps more than hearing from someone who successfully puts that together and knows the pitfalls along the way.”

With that know-how, the critical planning phase can be even better executed, and set up the network for future accomplishments.

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