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Nov 09, 2023
3 min

The Top 8 Cost-Effective Broadband Deployment Strategies for Electric Cooperatives

Your Electric Cooperative Can Afford a Broadband Project

There’s no doubt about it: deploying broadband is expensive. But you’d be surprised to learn that it’s even more expensive to skip out on a broadband investment. By not investing in broadband, you’ll miss out on securing future economic vitality for your community and contributing to the overall well-being of your members.

At first glance, the cost might seem out of reach for electric cooperatives. Thankfully, there are many strategies that can help offset the costs of a broadband project. To deploy broadband in a cost-effective manner, you need a strategic approach that accounts for your serving area as well as the technology and resources available. And with access to unprecedented levels of funding, you can find support in ways you may not have originally forecasted.

Save Costs with These Top 8 Strategies for Broadband Deployment

As an expert on broadband deployment for electric cooperatives, here are my top strategies to trim costs and keep a project realistic for your budget.

  1. Use existing infrastructure: Utility poles and existing fiber-optic cables can reduce the need—and costs associated with—new infrastructure.  

  2. Adopt efficient technologies: Wireless technologies, such as fixed wireless, can be less expensive to deploy than fiber-optic cables.

  3. Optimize network design: A network design that minimizes the number of access points or using smaller cells in wireless networks can reduce the cost of equipment and deployment.

  4. Engage in public-private partnerships: Local governments can provide funding, grants, or other incentives to private companies to build out broadband infrastructure in underserved areas.

  5. Conduct thorough planning: A feasibility study, a terrain and topology analysis of your serving area, and determining the right technology to deploy are key steps in the planning process. To deliver FTTH, you can use a simple formula based on housing density to estimate the cost of building an outside plant in a rural, aerial deployment. 

  6. Create demand across your community: Engagement and education are key to creating a demand for services that can help attract additional customers, reduce the cost per member, and increase revenue for the broadband provider.

  7. Segment your build: Oklahoma-based co-op OEC Fiber avoided paying interest on loans by securing funds for its broadband deployment in stages. As one phase of the project was completed, it secured funding for the next stage. 

  8. Build outside of your serving area: Expanding into other areas—even if they’re already being served—can help drive critical revenue that can be reinvested into your broadband project.

Don’t be deterred by the anticipated costs of deploying broadband. With the right strategies—and the expertise of experienced partners like Calix—you can roll out broadband for your community without breaking the bank. 

Ready to learn more truths about broadband deployment that will help demystify your challenges? Download our eBook, 10 ½ Truths About Broadband Projects for Electric Cooperatives.

Senior Manager, Field Marketing—Electric Cooperatives, Calix

Nick Jones is the senior manager, field marketing - electric cooperatives at Calix. He has over 20 years of experience building relationships, brands, and organizations, focusing on the rural broadband movement. Nick has worked alongside utilities, cooperatives, and communities nationwide as they seek to provide broadband that will allow their community to thrive for decades. 

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