June 8, 2022 by Joanie Twersky

5 Ways for Electric Cooperatives To Drive Success in Broadband

electric cooperative broadband

Joanie Twersky

Director, Field Marketing, Calix


Broadband connectivity is as essential as electricity. However, getting into the broadband business presents a whole new set of challenges for electric cooperatives. In supplying electricity, power is either on or off. Delivering broadband is more complex, with many variables shaping the subscriber experience. Operations teams need to have robust systems in place to ensure service availability and support, while at the same time keeping operational costs (OPEX) low. New broadband service providers (BSPs) must future-proof their broadband investments to ensure long-term returns. 

Calix Guiding Electric Cooperatives Toward Broadband Success 

Today, 86 percent of all US electric cooperatives offering broadband partner with Calix to transform their business and successfully deliver advanced fiber services to their communities. Calix enables these new providers to expand quickly into new markets by simplifying operations and speeding up service provisioning. 

One example is Cumberland Connect; a subsidiary of one of the largest electric cooperatives in the US, Cumberland Electric Member Corporation (CEMC), which was founded to provide electricity to rural communities in Tennessee. Although they have been in business for over 100 years, in just a few short weeks Cumberland Connect integrated Calix Intelligent Access EDGE systems to deploy fiber to tens of thousands of its members. The cooperative also uses the comprehensive Revenue EDGE solution to offer members an unrivaled managed Wi-Fi experience. The result? Cumberland Connect enjoys an extraordinary net promoter score (NPS) of +90.  

Recently, Calix engaged with more electric cooperatives entering the broadband business at the Utilities Technology Council (UTC) Telecom & Technology conference. Here are five tips to help you minimize OPEX and maximize success in broadband. 

1. Embrace Industry Standards To Innovate and Differentiate     

Standards matter. A nationwide railway system was only made possible once a standardized rail gauge was agreed. Those railway operators that opted for a non-standard gauge were left stuck with a legacy system and higher running costs. It’s a useful lesson in the broadband business. Calix deploys the very latest PON (passive optical network) standards—such as XGS-PON—and our platforms and solutions align to many other standards across both the access network and in the customer premises. Our commitment to industry standards allows us to innovate at speed, enabling BSPs to dynamically deploy the very latest broadband technologies.  

2. Enable Support Agents To Deliver First-Call Resolution  

One of the biggest challenges facing a new entrants into the fiber space is customer issue resolution. The goal is to resolve the problem with a single interaction—usually a call to your frontline support staff. But that isn’t always easy: It relies on the customer being able to articulate the issue and for the customer support representative (CSR) to quickly diagnose and identify the right course of action. Calix Support Cloud proactively solves this problem by providing end-to-end visibility into the subscriber experience. It equips the CSR with the actionable insights to solve most subscriber issues without the need to escalate or deploy field agents—dramatically reducing the need for costly truck rolls. Providers using Support Cloud are able to reduce truck rolls by up to 50 percent, call times by up to 80 percent, and increase first call resolution by 83 percent.  

3. Equip Field Technicians With Intelligence on the Move 

An end-to-end view of the subscriber’s Wi-Fi environment is also vital for field technicians working on the move or in the customer’s premises. With the permissions-based Calix Support Cloud, field staff have access to a wealth of information about the subscriber’s Wi-Fi network—including possible interference, coverage reach, and the status of connected devices—helping them deliver a seamless experience at the point of install and beyond. The result is greater customer satisfaction and NPS. 

4. Identify Issues Before Your Subscribers Do 

In some cases, subscribers experiencing problems will not report it. Your first sign of trouble may be when they seek to cancel their contract. It is therefore critical that your network operations teams can quickly identify problems before customers are aware of them. This is possible thanks to Calix Operations Cloud (Operations Cloud), which proactively monitors network health and sounds the alarm when subscriber-impacting events occur. This means higher productivity in frontline support teams and lower OPEX. Cumberland Connect’s leadership team estimates a 72 percent reduction in potential outage related OPEX by using Operations Cloud. 

5. Allow Subscribers To Control Their Broadband Experience  

Today’s subscribers want to control their home network, whether that’s resetting a password, checking connectivity, or running a speed test. With the CommandIQ® mobile app, subscribers can manage every aspect of their connected home experience, including key features such as parental controls and network security. The result is fewer support calls, faster issue resolution, and more engaged and satisfied subscribers.    

The success of any broadband business depends on your ability to deliver an exceptional experience. Make sure you’re putting intelligence in the hands of frontline support staff, field technicians, operations teams—and subscribers themselves—to ensure you meet subscriber expectations. 

To learn more about how Calix is partnering with utilities to bring broadband to their communities, watch the webinar replay “Five Ways to Transform Your Operations To Maximize Success In The Broadband Business.”