TEC/NRTC Virtual Broadband Series Covers Plenty of Territory

Randy Sukow


Fiber spool

NRTC was pleased to partner with the Texas Electric Cooperatives (TEC) on a four-part online broadband workshop. The educational sessions for TEC members originally were slated to be part of an in-person training event at TEC’s Georgetown, TX, training facility, in early June. The COVID-19 pandemic forced a change of plans to a wide-ranging series of virtual sessions.

“I’ve really enjoyed attending all of these sessions,” one cooperative general manager said. “While it is at times overwhelming, with all of the evaluation that needs to happen and decisions that need to be made before and during a broadband project, it is comforting to know there are cooperative-focused partners like NRTC, to help us navigate an unfamiliar process.”

Once NRTC and TEC staff made the decision to modify the workshop, their staffs smoothly collaborated on a comprehensive series.
Session 1: Visualizing Broadband, June 4
This session led with the question, “What does broadband mean to your cooperative?” The answer to that question will provide a foundation for your broadband project’s initial evaluation, from the feasibility study to technology choices; addressing utility applications, and ensuring your vision aligns with employees and members alike.

Session 2: Building Broadband, June 11
An overview of broadband network design, distribution architecture, network vendor evaluation and process integration was based on experience from actual co-op broadband projects. A co-op-specific approach is paramount; one size fits all will not lead to a successful project.

Session 3: Structuring Broadband, June 18
Experts from TEC, NRECA and a Texas-based tax and accounting firm addressed took up the legal and regulatory issues arising from high-speed network deployment. What are the most common broadband business structures and what legal/financial implications follow each option?

Session 4: Broadband Business Operations, June 25
The final session covered both pre- and post-launch considerations, such as subscriber support (throughout the subscriber life cycle from install), network management/maintenance, and monetizing your network. Participants heard lessons learned from current and former electric cooperative personal as well as their thoughts on successful operations practices.

Thanks to all our presenters and panelists for their time and valuable insights. NRTC Broadband Solutions and Managed Services lent the panelists for the first session. Pictured top to bottom, they include myself; Ted Solomon, VP, Strategy & Corporate Development; Aaron Bennett, VP, Solutions Architecture, and Bailey White, co-founder of NRTC’s CrowdFiber. A special thank you to presenters from outside of NRTC, including:

  • Eric Craven, senior VP, Government Relations and Regulatory Affairs, and Gary Daniel, executive director, TEC
  • Ty Thompson, VP and deputy general counsel, NRECA
  • Bill Miller, tax partner, Bolinger, Segars, Gilbert & Moss, LLP
  • Robert Russell, executive engineer, and Tad Vernor, engineering associate, Communication Technology, Guadalupe Valley Electric Cooperative
  • Ken Johnson, former CEO of Co-Mo Electric Cooperative and former administrator, Rural Utilities Service   

If you would like to arrange similar educational events for your cooperative or statewide association, please contact an NRTC regional business manager or marketing executive.

Matt Timmons is NRTC’s regional business manager serving the state of Texas.

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