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Electric Co-ops Lobby for Broadband Expansion

Indiana’s electric cooperatives urged Congress to provide full funding for broadband to meet the growing demand for high-speed internet service. Congress is expected to take up a sweeping infrastructure bill this year that will include broadband expansion to rural communities and underserved urban areas for decades to come.

While the telecommunications industry and stakeholders broadly agree broadband access and affordability are critically important, there isn’t always agreement on how to make that happen. Some segments of the industry, including large telephone, fixed wireless and satellite companies, advocate for any new broadband infrastructure programs to fund networks at much lower speeds than cooperatives and others are striving to build. Cooperatives want their consumer-members to have access to broadband that will be reliable and affordable, and meet their speed needs now and for years to come.

That is why electric cooperatives advocate that any new federal programs must fund broadband infrastructure capable of:

• Enabling businesses to meet the needs of consumers

• Empowering businesses to relocate to any community

• Providing opportunities for teleworkers and students at the same level regardless of geography

• Enabling anchor institutions to fully provide for their entire communities

• Making precision agriculture capabilities possible so agriculture producers can improve efficiencies.

Electric Co-ops and Indiana’s Leaders Work Together to Bridge Broadband Divide

We serve as a partner and knowledge source for Indiana’s leaders, including Lt. Gov. Suzanne Crouch. Crouch’s staff asked Indiana Electric Cooperatives to arrange meetings with some of the REMCs and community partners who are actively solving the internet crisis.

In July, Crouch attended the first in a series of roundtables at South Central Indiana REMC in Martinsville. The meeting included representatives from five REMCs and two community partners.

During the roundtable, Crouch asked the REMCs how broadband connectivity efforts were going in their communities. They also discussed the broadband grant program administered by the Indiana Office of Community and Rural Affairs.

“It's encouraging to know we have partners here in Indiana electric co-ops who are invested in connecting Hoosiers and want to help expand broadband throughout Indiana,” Crouch said.

New Study: Cooperative Membership Helps Economic and Social Well-Being Worldwide:

Benefits of cooperative membership exceed prioritized broadband access and extend past U.S. borders. A new report by the International Cooperative Research Group, the research arm of the U.S. Overseas Cooperative Development Council, reveals members of cooperatives in countries spanning four continents are more likely to have above-average incomes, a better sense of overall well-being, and improved access to social support systems.

This report shows co-ops improve the quality of people’s lives in communities around the world. They provide unique economic opportunities for the members they serve. Cooperatives help members increase their prosperity directly through access to credit and higher earnings, and indirectly by helping to provide access to financial education, mentors and training. The combined result is that members are better prepared to serve as effective business owners and leaders in their communities.

The report also said cooperatives offer a socially conscious business model, inherently concerned with community well-being. This translates to cooperative members having stronger overall trust in their communities.

The data shows valued cooperative benefits extend beyond the impacts on income and include social and community advancements.

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