The Divide: How rural electric co-ops like Tri-Co are closing deep broadband gaps

On this episode, we're joined by Elizabeth Page, national sales director at Ribbon Communications; and Aaron Young, chief operating officer at Tri-Co Connections, a fiber broadband provider in rural Pennsylvania powered by Tri-County Rural Electric Cooperative, and a customer of Ribbon's.

We discuss why, how and when Tri-Co started deploying broadband to its service area and the state of its rollout, why electric co-ops are well-placed to fill in broadband gaps in the rural US, Ribbon's role in rural broadband delivery – and much more.

Here are a few topics discussed in this episode:

  • Ribbon's rural work and challenges to closing the digital divide (02:18)
  • Background on Tri-Co Connections and the co-op's journey to becoming an ISP (04:40)
  • State of Tri-Co's fiber deployment (06:43) and its network speeds (07:35)
  • Why Tri-Co and other electric co-ops are well-placed to help close the digital divide (08:30)
  • What would make it easier for co-ops to deliver high-speed broadband (12:43)
  • How Tri-Co and Ribbon see federal funding impacting their work (15:10)

Related stories:

— Nicole Ferraro, site editor, Broadband World News; senior editor, global broadband coverage, Light Reading. Host of "The Divide" on the Light Reading Podcast.

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5/20/2022 |
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The digital divide in North America is leaving millions without adequate broadband. Incumbents operate in “islands” of connectivity, serving densely populated areas and, at a national scale, perpetuating the digital divide in the gaps in between their service footprints. Regional ISPs have a clear role in closing that gap.

These regional ISPs operate in a highly fragmented landscape, including smaller wireless and FTTH incumbents, satellite ISPs, electric co-ops, tribal communities, and municipalities in public/private partnerships. These regional ISPs face the same cyber threats and operational challenges as their Tier 1 counterparts, but with far fewer resources and revenue-generating population density. As a result, many regional ISPs have developed highly innovated business models for access and core technology, partnerships, financing and services.

The discussion will cover:

  • Three ISPs that have taken an innovative approach to their business, as detailed in a recent STL Partners report
  • Why regional ISPs need to double down on core security basics such as DDoS protection
  • How ISPs have created new revenue by offering managed services
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