As our communities and our country band together to slow the spread and impact of COVID-19, we are simultaneously faced with changing routines and social distancing requirements. It has never felt more urgent to stay digitally connected so we can work and learn through online platforms and continue to engage family and friends for meaningful connection.
How cooperatives make digital connection possible
Cooperatives around the country play an important role in making digital connection possible. The electric coops in Tri-State’s network don’t just deliver reliable, affordable electricity; some also deliver next-generation Internet services, including SLV Rural Electric Cooperative’s Ciello. The need for these services is especially acute in some of the rural areas we, and other cooperatives, serve.
The U.S. Department of Agriculture reports: “High-speed Internet access across America today is characterized by a stark infrastructure gap between rural and urban areas. While urban centers enjoy widespread availability of high-speed Internet service, much of rural America has yet to be connected.”
Of the 24 million Americans living in households that aren’t wired to the Internet, 80 percent of them live in rural areas, according to Federal Communications Commission data.
Just like electricity was brought to underserved rural communities last century, rural electric cooperatives are now bringing broadband to local communities, including homes, small businesses, hospitals, farms, ranches, libraries, and schools. Often, this infrastructure is placed in challenging areas that would not be considered by companies that are not motivated by cooperative principles.
Typically, cooperatives provide broadband through fiber-optic connections that can deliver consistent speeds far faster than traditional copper wires or satellite service. Many offer speeds up to 1 Gbps.
Besides providing service in places that may not otherwise have access to reliable broadband, co-ops also provide free public Wi-Fi hotspots in some communities to ensure people who don’t have internet access at home can still use vital online resources.
The public hotspots provided by Ciello can be of huge significance at this time to help people stay connected to work and school. For those people in the area who don’t have internet access or their connection is not sufficient for their current needs, public Wi-Fi hotspots will help fill those gaps and provide a reliable connection.
As part of the San Luis Valley community, Ciello is always looking for opportunities to serve their neighbors. The current health crisis has disrupted everyone’s lives, but it is Ciello’s hope that these Wi-Fi hotspots will help ease the burden a little.
Fiber optic broadband for rural communities
According to the Institute for Local Self-Reliance, hundreds of rural electric co-ops in the U.S. have embarked on fiber optic projects to increase Internet access for their members, a number that is growing rapidly from just a handful in 2012. As a result, more than 30 percent of the fiber service available in rural areas is provided by rural cooperatives.
Co-ops have proven that locally provided broadband service is a great option because it keeps revenue and control close to home. Cooperative-powered broadband also ensures that systems can respond to the specific connection needs of the community.
With increased support from federal and state governments, cooperatives help connect rural Americans to economic and educational opportunities that might otherwise be unavailable to them. Broadband service from local cooperatives allows members to enjoy the benefits of living in a rural setting while competing in a global market.
Co-ops make connectivity possible
At this time when many people are leaning on their at-home broadband service to work, attend school and connect with others, co-op-powered broadband services have become even more imperative. Communities rely on dependable broadband service to make sure they can respond to their community’s most critical needs.
Tri-State is a not-for-profit cooperative of 46 members, including 43-member utility electric distribution cooperatives and public power districts in four states, that together deliver reliable, affordable and responsible power to more than a million electricity consumers across nearly 200,000 square miles of the West. To read the blog on Tri-State's website, click here.
As the San Luis Valley's premier fiber-optic broadband internet service provider, Ciello delivers reliable connections at cutting edge speeds. Ciello's state-of-the-art network and focus on innovation and progress bring new opportunities to the Valley’s rural communities. Offering symmetrical speeds up to 1 Gigabit as well as phone service, Ciello prides itself on providing professional and reliable service.