One of the drawbacks of rural living has emerged during the pandemic. No, I’m not talking about the supply chain for toilet paper or our ability to agree on the government’s role in our lives. This is something equally as frustrating: rural internet access.
Most telecommunication companies are bound by the same logistics as electric utilities; they have a desire to serve the densest populations possible, since the ability to cover more people in a given area is inherently more profitable. Alternatively, serving sparsely-populated rural areas results in higher infrastructure costs and ultimately drives down margins.
Over the years, ECE has kept an eye on the broadband industry. The co-op recently considered a large-scale internet solution for our members. However, the board agreed that the cost, combined with improvement in the industry, meant they could not justify the risk associated with entering the market. If we had moved forward, we could have had millions of dollars of stranded investment that our members would ultimately be responsible for. As your neighbors, it’s a chance we aren’t willing to take.
I’m a person who spends a lot of time online—with kids who spend even more time on it—so I understand the very real need for internet access. We are living in a connected society and the need for reliable communication has created significant demand. Much like the electrification of America decades ago, innovation and the bright minds of entrepreneurs will result in a better world for all of us. I have no doubt our members will soon have affordable access to quality internet—without gambling on the future of the cooperative.
At your service we remain,