It’s great to see electric and telecom companies working together to bring better broadband to rural areas. It’s a natural combination. They both reach out to rural households. They can share space and infrastructure. Broadband needs electricity or at least the devices that use broadband do. Broadband can facilitate better management of broadband through a smart grid system.
It’s also great to see Minnesota so prominent in the discussion with Johnson County REMC, Arrowhead Electric Cooperative and Consolidated Telephone Cooperative. You can even spy Acira’s Kevin Beyer in hte audience. (I learned about the event from their Facebook page.)
For Immediate Release
Contact: Hillary Crowder, 703-351-2086, firstname.lastname@example.org
Arlington, Va. ( February 5, 2015)—NTCA–The Rural Broadband Association, together with the National Rural Telecommunications Cooperative (NRTC) and other rural-focused organizations, on February 5 held the first Electric-Telco Partnership Summit, bringing together more than 100 operators of rural electric and telecommunications companies to talk about how they can work together to deliver broadband to more communities across rural America.
The summit, held in Washington, D.C., featured panel discussions with executives from rural electric and telecom providers, including leaders of Johnson County REMC (Minnesota), NineStar Connect (Indiana), Arrowhead Electric Cooperative (Minnesota), Farmers Telecommunications Cooperative (Alabama) and Consolidated Telephone Cooperative (Minnesota). Discussions focused on how successful partnerships between electric and telecom providers got started, operational challenges that come with working together and regulatory considerations.
NTCA Chief Executive Officer Shirley Bloomfield joined NRTC Chief Executive Officer Tim Bryan in welcoming participants to the inaugural even, and she encouraged conversation among participants during Q&A time. Several attendees remarked during and after the summit that more partnerships between electric and telecom providers may be needed to bring broadband services to communities currently lacking affordable, advanced communications, but the key is creating positive business relationships and communicating with one another frequently.
Fred Johnson, executive vice-president and general manager of Farmers Telecommunications Cooperative (Rainsville, Ala.), gave some advice to fellow telecom providers looking to create new partnerships with electric providers interested in deploying broadband. “Know your counterparts and always share with them what you’re capable of doing,” Johnson said. “Don’t assume that your counterparts know what you’re doing. Make sure they know.”
Photos from this event are available in the photo gallery.