The Institute for Local Self Reliance (ILRS) has updated their report on the growing role of cooperatives bringing better broadband to rural areas – including a map of showing where cooperatives provider fiber service…
You can see that cooperatives are really making a difference in the Midwest. In fact, here are the top five states with cooperative fiber coverage…
ISLR and others have made the case for cooperative providers before. The very quick high level look is that cooperatives’ stakeholders are their customers so they are at least as interested in providing them with service and improving the community as making a profit. And they are more patient with return on investment than many for-profit providers.
The report does highlight some recommendations to better support cooperatives – here’s an abridged version…
Federal and state governments must recognize that cooperatives are one of the best tools for ubiquitous, rural, high-speed Internet access.
Design funding programs with cooperatives in mind.
Encourage cooperatives by removing barriers and encouraging partnerships.
If you live in a rural area, talk to your neighbors, co-op manager, and board members about the potential for Internet networks. Successful cooperative projects are community-led projects. About 70 percent of electric cooperatives have less than 10 percent average turnout for their board member elections.
Make it clear that rural connectivity is about more than entertainment. Farmers, programmers, and entrepreneurs all need high-speed Internet access. Rural connectivity also supports needed research.