Partnerships Really Do Help Serve Underserved Communities

Partnerships Really Do Help Serve Underserved Communities

I can’t believe that Dennis Bachman, CEO of Citizens Connected in New Auburn, Wisconsin didn’t call me to tell me about his exciting new partnership with his local electric cooperative…but maybe that’s because he was too busy pulling this partnership together, so he’s totally off the hook!

The notice in the Wisconsin statewide newsletter reported that Cornell-based Chippewa Valley Electric Cooperative and Citizens Connected have begun building a fiber optic network with initial construction underway along the shore of Lake Holcombe.  The two cooperatives announced last week that their joint venture, called Ntera, will be a limited liability corporation governed by a seven member board with representatives of both coops and one member who will come from at large from the combined service area.  Brilliant!

As these two community leaders were noodling how they might work together, they had surveyed together and found an area, served by a larger carrier, with no access or limited internet access and the new combined entity will provide the homes and businesses with “leading edge internet, video and voice service through a complete fiber optic build.”  Both entities found consumers anxious for service and enthusiastic about the partnership coming in to serve their needs and it appears that other communities are asking Ntera to consider adding them to their expansion list.

I really do find this development really exciting and truly think it’s a part of the solution for currently underserved or unserved areas and having two rural utilities coming together for this venture sets the perfect tone along with the fact that they are not looking to provide short term solutions but are going all in in building a fiber network.  These are areas that large carriers have chosen not to build out and I will be very disappointed If the carrier that had abandoned this area now chooses to finally engage in serving their community because these utilities have chosen to step up and get things done.

Kudos to Citzens Connected and Chippewa Valley for set a great path for rural utilities to follow!

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