Broadband is an essential tool for many individuals, businesses, and anchor institutions. From simply checking email and websites to performing complex business tasks and using interactive video applications, broadband enables people across the United States and the world to connect with each other to sustain relationships and create new and exciting opportunities.

Making robust and affordable broadband available in rural communities has been a challenge, requiring resolve, resourcefulness, and a special commitment to community. There are many rural areas where providers with these qualities have already taken great strides to deliver great broadband despite the challenges—but in other rural areas, more focused effort is needed by providers who have such resolve and sense of community. Knowing that there are many potential partners out there who share just these kinds of characteristics, Partners in Broadband wants to help rural utilities and municipals connect with local telecommunications providers to explore ways to deliver the best possible broadband experience that will enrich their communities in new and exciting ways.

If you are a utility infrastructure provider or municipality considering tackling broadband challenges in an unserved or underserved rural area and you want to talk with a nearby partner who shares your commitment and has expertise in rural telecom, fill out the form below. We’ll match you with neighboring telecom companies to talk through the issues, help evaluate options, and promote partnerships wherever possible.

Let’s strengthen our communities by building broadband together.
Recognizing they are more effective together than apart, rural utilities have partnered to bring broadband services to more communities in several states. The following stories depict successful partnerships that have reaped positive results for both partners and the communities they serve.

NineStar Connect (Greenfield, Ind.)
On January 1, 2011, Hancock Telecom and Central Indiana Power merged cooperatives into what is now known as NineStar™ Connect. On October 30, 2010, members of both cooperatives overwhelmingly voted in favor of the merger. NineStar Connect has emerged as a leader in smart grid deployment with the ability to provide advanced communications services to unserved and underserved areas of Hancock County, Ind. Chief Executive Officer Michael Burrow says the partnership was successful because the two cooperatives’ territories overlapped, and many board members knew one another and shared a similar view of the world. Burrow commented, “Sometimes, when people hear about NineStar, they think, ‘We would never do that,’ and that shuts down any possibility of collaboration. That’s a huge mistake!” By using the communications division's fiber-optic lines, the electric division helps deploy smart meters that involve two-way communication between the meter and a central location. Greater efficiencies were also gained by consolidating functions like customer support.

Consolidated Telephone Cooperative and Arrowhead Electric Cooperative (Lutsen, Minn.)
In 2009, Cook County, Minn., placed dead last of the state's 87 counties in terms of broadband availability. The county government led a collaborative local effort that resulted in a broadband stimulus grant being awarded to the local electric cooperative, Arrowhead. Building the broadband network was well within the cooperative’s comfort zone, but operating the network was another matter. The regulatory, competitive and technology aspects of telecom were all new to the company. Because Arrowhead is very small—it has only about a dozen employees—it reached out for expertise and eventually chose to work with Consolidated Telephone Cooperative (CTC), about 200 miles away. Today CTC provides voice and Internet services that Arrowhead resells, and CTC takes responsibility for network operations and technical support.

Peoples Rural Telephone Cooperative and Jackson Energy (McKee, Ky.)
In the past two years, more than 350 people living within the two-county service area of Peoples Rural Telephone Cooperative (PRTC) in McKee, Ky., have landed jobs as customer service representatives for major companies, thanks in part to a partnership between PRTC and the local electric cooperative, Jackson Energy Cooperative. Keith Gabbard, Chief Executive Officer of PRTC, credits the economic development staff at Jackson Energy for setting up a meeting with Eastern Kentucky Concentrated Employment Program (EKCEP)—a federal agency set up to offer job training in areas with high unemployment and poverty. Through its subsidiary operation, Teleworks USA, EKCEP offers a four-week training course for prospective customer service reps in a former daycare located in an industrial park. Jackson Energy and Owsley County helped line up free rent for the building, and PRTC provides the high-speed broadband—capable of achieving 1 gigabit per second upload and download speeds.
Let us help you make a match in the broadband community!