In the US, advocate for utilities in the critical infrastructure sector the Utilities Telecom Council (UTC) has announced that six members of its Rural Broadband Council have been provisionally selected to receive funding for rural broadband experiments.

The US$100m experiment led by the US Federal Communications Commission will see the six shortlisted rural utilities have a network deployed delivering robust broadband internet services to remote communities.

The experiment forms part of the Federal Communications Commission’s work on how to expand broadband in rural America. As of November last year, the FCC received some 181 bids from applicants, proposing 600 projects under the Commisssion’s project.

Those that put forth proposals covered a wide range of entities including competitive providers, electric utilities, and wireless internet services providers.

Among the six members provisionally selected include: BARC Electric Cooperative, Virginia, City of Chanute, Kansas, Douglas Services, Inc, Lake Region Technology & Communications, LLC, Oklahoma, Midwest Energy Cooperative d/b/a Midwest Connections, Missouri, and Northwest Rural Services, Inc, Oklahoma.

Mike Keyser, CEO of BARC Electric Cooperative in Millboro, VA and Chairman of the RBC, said: “The strong showing by RBC members in the FCC rural experiment process proves that electric utilities are poised to again transform rural America – this time with high-speed Internet service.”

Keyser continued: “I have always belived there is tremendous value in an RBC/UTC membership … Now the proof is in the pudding. RBC members just received a significant return on their membership investment.”

The UTC press statement added: “Including utilities in this important effort is a significant step in delivering robust, reliability and affordable broadband to underserved communities.”

Importance of broadband internet for utilities

Internet service providers such as AT&T, Comcast and Verizon are key to today’s utilities in the electric, gas and water sectors undertaking smart grid and smart meter deployments, offering cloud data management, and automated meter reading services, as well as employing Machine-to-Machine communications.

Alacatel-lucent, global telecommunications equipment company, views broadband Internet access as “essential for rural communities and smaller municipalities looking to prosper in today’s connected global economy.”

The French company has worked with several electric cooperatives in Alabama, Georgia and Oklahoma providing its solution for “ultra-broadband access”.

Sheila Allgood from BOLT Fiber Optic Services, a subsidiary of NE Oklahoma Electric Coop, said: “The legacy of the rural electric cooperatives is that of bringing vital utilities to underserved communities.

"In the 20th century the need was for electricity and today the need is for high-speed, high-capacity broadband. Providing access to ultra-broadband will attract jobs and investment, improves lives through services like telemedicine and e-learning, and allows families to stay in the communities they love.”

 

 

 

 

 

 

The French company has worked with several electric cooperatives in Alabama, Georgia and Oklahoma providing its solution for “ultra-broadband access”.
Sheila Allgood from BOLT Fiber Optic Services, a subsidiary of NE Oklahoma Electric Coop said: “The legacy of the rural electric cooperatives is that of bringing vital utilities to underserved communities. In the 20th century the need was for electricity and today the need is for high-speed, high-capacity broadband. Providing access to ultra-broadband will attract jobs and investment, improves lives through services like telemedicine and e-learning, and allows families to stay in the communities they love.”