Electric Cooperatives are a Strong Partner to Local Communities
Because electric cooperatives are community-based and have a sense of community commitment and investment, ECE made the decision to take a second look at a regional solution to broadband. They believed deeply in the importance of connectivity for their members and felt it was important for the cooperative to pursue it further.
ECE serves some of the most economically disadvantaged counties in Minnesota. The deployment of fiber broadband would be a key component to spur continued growth and development across their 14-county service area.
From an internal perspective, owning and operating a fiber network would provide ECE with smart grid technologies and help to increase the efficiency, reliability, and performance of their electric distribution grid.
They started exploring federal, state, and local grants and funding sources, as well as conducting a new feasibility study and putting together a comprehensive plan. They found that with the appropriate funding from various new grants and other sources that were now available, it made fiscal sense to move forward with a full fiber-to-the-home project.
Partnerships are Key in Successful Broadband Deployments
While grants are an important component in funding broadband infrastructure projects, they also have strict project completion requirements to receive funding. Supply chain issues or delays could result in problems meeting those deadlines.
ECE already had a long-standing relationship with Wesco because they supplied the cooperative with electrical T&D, MRO, and communications products, plus supply chain services. They knew that Wesco was a dependable partner. One they could count on to deliver the products and solutions for their latest endeavor, building a scalable, future-ready, and cost-effective fiber network. Not only could Wesco provide the fiber cable for the project, but they could also deliver a wide assortment of fiber-related products from all the leading suppliers in the industry. Some of those items include cabinets and enclosures, cable and wire management, duct, drop cable, fiber accessories, vaults or handholes, conduit, installation equipment, and more.