Electric Co-ops Mark Broadband Milestones with Confetti, Free TVs and More

Connect2First has marked milestones with subscribers and employees alike as its connection rate swelled to over 1,000 per month during the past year. Co-ops around the country are celebrating connection milestones with customers and with their staffs. (Photo Courtesy: Connect2First)

Deploying broadband where terrain is rugged and population sparse is something to celebrate, so it’s no wonder electric cooperatives are marking connection milestones with subscribers and their hardworking staffs in fun and creative ways.

United Fiber, the broadband subsidiary of United Electric Cooperative, capped its 10th anniversary last August by reaching 30,000 connections and giving away $100 bill credits to 30 subscribers in a random drawing.

When it reached 10,000 and 25,000 connections, the Missouri co-op gave the milestone subscribers gift cards, bill credits and free laptops, iPads, AirPods and some smart home technology. Local media were invited for coverage.

United Fiber marked 30,000 subscribers in August 2023. (Photo Courtesy: United Fiber)

“As one of the lowest-density cooperatives in the state of Missouri with only 2.4 meters per mile, United has been able to serve areas thought to be too expensive to reach by traditional carriers,” said Jim Bagley, CEO of the Savannah-based co-op. “We are able to do this by building to cities that don’t have our electric service. This helps subsidize the cost to build to the low-density areas where our electric members are.

“Our mission is to enhance the rural way of life through United. We live this mission day in and day out for our cooperative members and fiber subscribers by bringing them an essential service with electricity and broadband.”

Co-Mo Connect recently feted subscriber No. 30,000 with a surprise home delivery of a big-screen TV, a PlayStation 5 and a free year of the co-op’s Ultra Gigabit Internet package, said Gene McCoy, marketing and communications coordinator at the co-op based in Tipton, Missouri.

Co-Mo Connect employees and mascot Chip Thunder surprised their 30,000th subscriber with a big-screen TV, Nintendo Switch gaming system and a free year of its Ultra 1 Gigabit Internet package. (Photo Courtesy: Co-Mo Connect)

Three state lawmakers brought a proclamation commemorating Co-Mo on its milestone, he said. Some board directors, staff and the co-op mascot joined the party, complete with confetti cannons. Employees also got commemorative mugs, T-shirts and a day slated for food trucks and cake.

“In 2022, for our 25K celebration, we went to the subscriber’s home, Publishers Clearing House-style, with a group of about 30 employees,” McCoy said. “We surprise-delivered a big-screen TV, a Nintendo Switch gaming system and a free year of our Ultra 1 Gigabit Internet package.”

The co-op celebrated 20,000 connections in 2020 by giving the subscribing family a TV, iPads for their three children and a free year of Ultra 1. Co-Mo staff got T-shirts and cake.

“Each celebration has been slightly different in both type and scale, but all were equally fun to do,” he said. “We enjoy honoring and celebrating our milestones with our subscribers because they are the reason why we’re on a mission to bring high-speed broadband connectivity to rural areas. We love hearing their stories of how their lives and community were changed due to internet availability.”

Connect2First marked its 10,000th customer last year and expects to hit the 20,000 mark in early 2024. The broadband subsidiary of First Electric also partnered with vendors to provide celebratory gifts for its employees to mark milestones. (Photo Courtesy: Connect2First)

Connect2First has marked many milestones with its subscribers and employees as its take-rate swelled to over 1,000 per month during the past year, said Candace Looper, director of sales and marketing at the broadband arm of First Electric based in Jacksonville, Arkansas.

Milestone subscribers received a gift basket of Connect2First swag and complimentary streaming equipment. The co-op also partnered with its vendors to provide celebration gifts for its employees.

“We’ve exceeded all expectations and have celebrated with our customers at 1,000, 5,000 and 10,000 connections,” she said. “Our team is looking forward to celebrating 20,000 customers in early 2024.”

CoastConnect, headquartered in Kiln, Mississippi, celebrates milestones on a regular basis as well. The broadband subsidiary of Coast Electric gifts Roku Ultra streaming devices via random drawings when new service areas open.

Subscriber No. 5,000 received a basket of co-op goodies and an Amazon Echo smart home device. At milestone 10,000, CoastConnect gave away a smart TV, a streaming service gift card and swag to one lucky subscriber. The co-op is closing in on 20,000 subscribers.

In Mississippi, Coast Connect marked its 5,000th (left) and 10,000th (right) connections with surprise giveaways to the lucky subscribers. (Photos Courtesy: Coast Connect)

“Our team has been working tirelessly to bring fast, reliable phone and internet service to rural areas of South Mississippi, and we are excited to celebrate each milestone that brings us closer to our goal,” said Ron Barnes, co-op president and CEO.

GoSEMO, the broadband division of SEMO Electric Cooperative, hit its first milestone in 2018 at 500 subscribers. It celebrated 9,000 last August and is closing in on 10,000 connections. Pivotal subscribers over the years enjoyed home deliveries of cakes and big-screen TVs by co-op staff in party hats with balloons.

GoSEMO, the broadband division of SEMO Electric Cooperative, surprises milestone subscribers with gifts like big-screen TVs. (Photo Courtesy: GoSEMO)

“Bringing fiber broadband to southeast Missouri is more than just about connectivity—it’s a journey of transformation, celebrating the lives and towns it changes,” said Gina Trout, manager of subscriber services for the Sikeston-based co-op.

“Every celebration signifies a broadband milestone, creating tales of transformation. As we push ahead, envisioning a future where everyone is connected, these stories will be our legacy.”

Cumberland Connect marked 20,000 subscribers by having cakes delivered to its seven branch offices, including this one in Clarksville. (Photos Courtesy: Cumberland Connect)

Cumberland Connect celebrated the 20,000-subscriber mark with cakes baked in the shape of “20K” delivered to its seven branch offices, said Mark Cook, broadband division manager for Cumberland EMC, headquartered in Clarksville, Tennessee.

Co-op staff enjoyed food and ice cream trucks when 10,000 subscribers were signed up, as well as T-shirts and branded hats.

“We feel that it is important to celebrate milestones along the buildout of our project because it is such a team accomplishment both with our CEMC employees and our entire membership,” Cook said.

Cumberland Connect hit 25,000 subscribers last summer and ended the year with 30,000.

“Providing high-speed, affordable broadband services to our entire membership hits at the core values of our cooperative,” said Cook. “Any celebration that we have internally resonates throughout our communities as we all win by closing the digital gap in our world.”

NRECA Broadband is positioning co-ops as a crucial force in rural broadband. Visit cooperative.com/broadband to learn more and sign up.