Broadband Partnerships | CoBank Knowledge Exchange Brief

Jeff: Broadband partnerships between electric distribution
coops and local exchange carriers offer attractive synergies and can help close the urban – rural
digital divide. When done right, partnerships can be a wonderful
structure. But when companies fail to plan and execute
appropriately, partnerships will struggle to survive. To that end, our research shows that electric
distribution co-ops and telcos need to keep an open mind regarding business structure. Partners need to have clearly defined roles
once a business model has been agreed to. Tom: As various telcos and electric distribution
co-ops have shared these lessons with us, we’ve also found notable anecdotes and empirical
evidence of broadband’s economic benefits. Telcos and distribution coops should be mindful
of these findings when scoping their projects and communicating with stakeholders. Jeff: These partnerships also allow rural telecom
operators to offer broadband outside of their existing local exchange footprint. The partnership provides new sources of revenue
that can help offset declines in regulated revenue. Tom: We recommend that telcos and co ops work closely
with their local businesses, economic development officials, schools, and others in the community. These stakeholders should use evidence of
how broadband deployment is likely to benefit their customers. Our most notable research conclusions are
discussed in our report on

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