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Feb 21, 2024
3 min

3 Assets That Put Electric Cooperatives in a Unique Position To Provide Broadband

85 years ago, you did the unimaginable. You brought electricity to your rural or remote community—when nobody thought it was possible. Some even considered it not worth the time.

Today is just like yesterday, except now you’re called to bring broadband services to your same communities. Broadband is an essential service, just like electricity, and it’s not a luxury. Despite what others may say, you know that everyone deserves high-speed internet. Whether it’s for remote work, healthcare, or small businesses, high-speed internet and accessible Wi-Fi create the backbone of economic vitality. Without it, communities fall too far behind—and you want the very best for your residents long into the future. 

Why Do Electric Cooperatives Have the Upper Hand in Broadband? 

While the journey to becoming a Broadband Service Provider (BSP) can be intimidating at first, you’re actually uniquely positioned to bring it to the community. Why? You’ve done this before.  

There are three main assets you have compared to other types of providers: 

  1. Existing utility infrastructure. Electric cooperatives already own the infrastructure in service areas. This saves time and money—plus it makes the network design stage easier.  

  2. Transferable business experience. Electricity and broadband are very different services, but they are similarities that you can look to—especially in terms of business operations. Both require complex infrastructure management and maintenance, plus operational services like billing and customer support.  

  3. Community relationships. Because you already do a great deal of outreach, you’ve established long-term relationships with residents and businesses that will help advocate for your broadband network.  

Where Can I Learn More About Providing Broadband as an Electric Cooperative? 

Your position in the community puts you at an immediate advantage when starting the journey of providing broadband. But don’t begin without enrolling in Broadband Academy. This educational resource is entirely online and self-paced, allowing you to enroll at your convenience and finish complimentary lessons—even if you’re not a Calix customer.  

I recommend every electric cooperative register for Broadband Academy and start with Broadband Services Fundamentals, where you’ll learn the five stages of a broadband project. That will lay the perfect foundation for the course, Understanding Broadband Services for Electric Cooperatives. This course was especially designed for electric cooperatives and dives deeper into some of the topics we’ve explored above.  

As always, I’m happy to guide you along this journey and hope you make the most out of our resources. You can always reach out to me directly at to ask questions or learn more.  

Ready to learn more about how electric cooperatives are uniquely positioned to offer broadband? Register for Broadband Academy today. 

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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