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Mar 08, 2024
3 min

6 Ways Electric Cooperatives Can Compete—And Win—Against Larger Broadband Service Providers

Hand holding a lightbulb surrounded by abstract electric cooperative icons

Don’t Be Intimidated By the Broadband Market—You Have the Tools to Win

Many electric cooperatives might worry about the bigger broadband service providers (BSPs) coming in and taking their market share—but don’t worry. There are many ways that electric cooperatives can position themselves to be indispensable to the local community as they provide broadband—which will edge out those larger providers. 

Unlike power—which is either on or off—delivering broadband services is more complex. There are many variables that can shape your members’ experiences. But bigger doesn’t always mean better. 

6 Strategies for Smaller BSPs To Beat Out Big Telecom

Here are six strategies that smaller BSPs can use to compete against larger providers and drive success in broadband. 

  1. Personalize the home experience. Valuable managed services such as home network security, device protection, and social media monitoring give subscribers control of their connected home experience. A customized mobile app can further elevate and empower members to understand and manage their networks—and even self-serve. 

  2. Focus on customer service. One of the ways you can do this is by equipping support agents to resolve trouble calls quickly, often without the need to escalate or send technicians out to the home. With end-to-end visibility into the member experience, frontline support staff can even proactively identify and resolve issues, contributing to higher member satisfaction. This level of local, personalized support can foster strong customer loyalty toward your brand.  

  3. Collaborate with other providers. An option is to team up with a streaming service to offer a combined package that includes high-speed internet and streaming content. Bundled services that offer something your competitors don’t offer can help you stand out in your market.

  4. Offer competitive pricing. This can help you to attract price-sensitive customers. You can also offer incentives such as discounts for customers who sign up for long-term contracts.

  5. Emphasize quality and reliability. You can do this by investing in high-quality broadband infrastructure that aligns to industry standards, and committing to—and meeting—service level agreements. This will help you to foster loyalty among your subscribers. 

  6. Leverage emerging technologies. Consider augmenting your fiber deployment with 5G and fixed wireless to provide high-speed internet access in areas not suitable for fiber. Using the cloud for BSP operations and field support can also help field staff access information proactively about the quality of a subscriber’s Wi-Fi network. This helps them deliver a seamless experience at the point of install and beyond.

Remember, your members already trust you as an electric provider. You have a leg up on larger BSPs because you’re a pillar in the community. If you lean into that, you’ll find many ways to stand apart and win more subscribers for the long haul. 

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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