Be Ready for the Differences Between Broadband and Electric Network Builds

Chris Martin


A standing-room-only crowd at NRECA’s TechAdvantage on Monday heard a panel of experienced electric-industry internet executives share their insights and lessons learned on building a broadband network and offering broadband service.

Cameron Smallwood, GM and CEO of United Cooperative Services (pictured far left) in Texas encouraged those just getting into the internet business to lean on and learn from other electric cooperatives who have already lived through launch process. He mentioned that UCS talked to or met with about a dozen cooperatives during their process.

NRTC Board Vice Chairman Lynn Hodges, GM of Ralls County Electric Cooperative in Missouri (pictured holding the microphone) spoke about the importance of construction mapping, especially for those co-ops leveraging funding programs. Funding agencies tend to require those maps to prove awardees used their grants and loans and built the infrastructure. He reminded the crowd that there’s a disconnect between electric and broadband mapping.

Along the same lines, co-ops must familiarize their staff with the materials that go into a broadband build, since they are different from what they’re used to on the electric side, said Randy Smith, GM of Dixie Electric Power Association in Mississippi (second from the left). He encouraged attendees to build out their broadband construction assemblies on the front end.

NRTC Chief Technology Officer and VP, Engineering (pictured right) moderated the session. 

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