Better Broadband with Clearfield: The Current State of Rural Broadband

April 6, 2021
Shelby Skrhak

We know broadband is expanding, even in rural areas. It can be difficult, however, to know exactly how much it’s expanding and how customers are getting access.

The NRTC commissioned a Broadband Benchmarking Report to learn just that. Among other things, they found that consumers certainly are eager to buy broadband services, especially in rural areas, and that electric co-ops are often the best option to provide them that service.

“A lot of this report was dedicated to deploying broadband and really getting to the nitty-gritty of the deployment statistics these 36 cooperatives were experiencing. One of the things that I think was most exciting was when we asked these cooperatives, ‘What are your take rates looking like?’ Fully 88% of these cooperatives experienced a higher take rate than originally projected,” said Rudy Tober of the National Rural Telecommunications Cooperative, who noted that’s nearly double the number of the average rate.

Michael Wood, National Market Manager for Utilities at Clearfield, said the COVID-19 pandemic has increased the need to get broadband to all parts of the country, with demand likely to continue to increase as more people work from places that aren’t major metropolitan areas.

“Over the past century, there’s been a huge population shift to cities. Ten years ago, 80% of the U.S. population lived in urban areas. That’s obviously slowing and even reversing with COVID work-from-home situations,” Wood said. “But my takeaway is that electric cooperatives are the best to roll this out. They’ve got the operational capabilities, they’ve got rights-of-way and make-ready capabilities to be able to manage projects like this versus some of the more questionable operators that might have won awards from the recent FCC auction, for example.”

A group like NRTC can help co-ops go over their options and figure out how to get broadband to even more customers, no matter where they call home.

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