NRECA launches broadband support service for U.S. electric co-ops

A survey conducted earlier this year shows that most co-op members would prefer to get broadband from their electric co-op rather than a nationally known provider.

The National Rural Electric Cooperative Association (NRECA) has launched a service for electric co-ops that provide broadband or are considering offering it.

The broadband service is available to any electric co-op member of the apex association. Joining fees depend on whether co-ops wishing to opt in already deliver broadband. For those that do, the fee is $12,000 plus $1 per broadband customer; for those who do not, the annual fee is $6,000.

By joining NRECA Broadband, co-ops gain access to new strategic communications services, education and events; focused business and technology support; and targeted advocacy.

“Co-ops entering the competitive broadband business face a whole new set of regulations, reporting requirements, tax implications and other issues specific to the telecommunications space,” CEO Jim Matheson said in a post on NRECA’s website.

“Through this new service tier, we aim to be a strong, united voice in Washington to represent our unique interests and stand toe-to-toe with big telecom.”

Matheson said NRECA Broadband is a natural extension of the apex’s advocacy work, which includes a Broadband Leadership Summit in November in Washington, DC.

“This new level of service will amplify our voice as a national organization in Washington, where telecommunication issues are discussed and where telecommunication business policies are decided,” said NRECA COO Jeffrey Connor.

“This is about building partnerships that NRECA can develop to be a more powerful voice for our members’ interests.”

A survey conducted by Frederick Polls for NRECA in April and May found that more members of co-ops favored subscribing to broadband from their co-op over a nationally known provider once they learnt some of the advantages of the model, such as local ownership, community investment, existing co-op infrastructure and reliability.

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