Along Those Lines, Episode 2: Can Electric Co-ops Bridge the Digital Divide?

Contract lineman Brandon Sims prepares a BARC Electric pole for installing fiber optic cables in February 2018. (USDA Photo by Preston Keres)

In rural America, today’s efforts to deploy high-speed internet have been equated with the push for rural electrification 80 years ago. Billions of federal dollars have been allocated to help bring broadband to the heartland, and some say it could ultimately determine whether some small towns survive into the future.

For electric co-ops, the possibility of bridging the digital divide is a huge opportunity to not only leverage the infrastructure they already have in place and to draw on their expertise in serving their members, but also to continue their long history of improving the quality of life in their communities.

But is that the right move for co-ops? On the second episode of Along Those Lines, our host, RE Magazine Editor Scot Hoffman asks a couple of broadband experts about that and other key issues that co-ops face when determining whether to pursue a broadband project. You’ll hear from Mike Keyser, CEO of BARC Electric Cooperative in Millboro, Virginia, which launched its broadband subsidiary last year, and Brian O’Hara, regulatory issues director for NRECA’s government relations team, whose portfolio includes broadband.

Listen to the episode below:

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Related Content:

‘The Beauty of Fiber’: Lessons From a Small Co-op’s Big Broadband Project
NRECA Coverage and Resources on Rural Broadband
Electric Co-ops Get a Big Boost for Rural Broadband Efforts in FCC Auction
On the Front Lines of the Digital Divide: Co-ops Push for Better Broadband
Arkansas Co-ops Point to Power Success to Promote Broadband Technology

Find out more about NRECA’s podcast. Questions or suggestions? Email us at AlongThoseLines@nreca.coop.