Co-ops Connect Podcast
Co-ops Connect is Conexon's podcast hosted by SVP of Marketing, Sales and Account Management, Abby Carere, bringing you heartfelt stories from Rural Electric Cooperatives deploying high-speed fiber internet networks to their service territories. We sit down with co-op leaders who are tackling head-on the rewards and challenges of bridging the Digital Divide in rural America, one mile of fiber at a time.
Conexon is proud to be at the forefront of the electric cooperative fiber broadband movement, partnering with co-ops across the country to transform communities with world-class fiber internet. Our values align with the cooperative principles of sharing resources and working together to improve services and lives of the members served by our co-ops.
No matter where your cooperative is in its fiber broadband journey, there are valuable lessons to learn from the co-ops who have blazed the trail before you. Listen and learn more about how your electric co-op can build a brighter, more connected future for your community with fiber to the home.
Kosciusko Connect, fiber subsidiary of Kosciusko Rural Electric Membership Corporation (Kosciusko REMC), has embarked on a remarkable growth story since the co-op’s FTTH project began in 2022. Tune in as Conexon's SVP of Sales, Marketing, and Account Management, Abby Carere, speaks with KREMC’s Vice President, Curt Barkey, to uncover the pivotal role of choosing the right broadband partner and assembling a passionate team. From regulatory challenges to transformative marketing strategies, learn the secrets behind Kosciusko REMC's extraordinary broadband success in pursuit of its mission to serve members.
Published August 22, 2023
Prompted by the need to update the cooperative's electric grid and enhance smart grid capabilities, Oklahoma's Canadian Valley Electric Cooperative realized high-speed communications was the way to go. Fortunately, Oklahoma is home to many other dedicated electric cooperatives under the Cooperative Broadband Coalition, committed to bringing fiber-to-the-home access to unserved and underserved Oklahomans. Tune in this week as Conexon's SVP of Sales, Marketing, and Account Management, Abby Carere, speaks with Canadian Valley Electric Cooperative and CVEC Fiber's CEO, Gary Highley, to discuss the insights gained by his team since the inception of their rural broadband project and the impact of FTTH on the entire state of Oklahoma.
Published September 27, 2023
Oklahoma Electric Cooperative and its fiber subsidiary, OEC Fiber, have kept community at the forefront since the co-op’s FTTH project conception in 2017– and the results are paying off. OEC Fiber was recently recognized as the Best Fiber Internet in the state of Oklahoma, with hugely successful on-system and off-system builds. Tune in this week as Conexon's SVP of Sales, Marketing, and Account Management, Abby Carere, speaks with OEC Fiber's President, David Goodspeed, to discuss what has become one of the fastest-growing rural broadband projects in the country.
Published June 27, 2023
As the first electric cooperative in the state of Florida to deliver and deploy a FTTH network, rural north Florida’s Tri-County Electric Cooperative has overcome the learning curve and taken away some key lessons along the way. Listen in as Conexon's SVP of Sales, Marketing, and Account Management, Abby Carere, and Tri-County Electric Cooperative's CEO, Julius Hackett, discuss the co-op's historic broadband journey and how it’s sparking a movement among other co-ops in Florida.
Published May 17, 2023
What started as the result of a local economic need in 2001, Oregon’s Douglas Fast Net is widely considered to be one of the earliest co-op broadband projects. Tune in this week as Conexon's SVP of Sales, Marketing, and Account Management, Abby Carere, speaks with Douglas Fast Net’s CEO, Todd Way, to discuss the fiber subsidiary’s success as a standalone entity and the strategy behind its unique off-system build.
Published April 5, 2023
Since 2020, Central Rural Electric Cooperative has been keeping both its members and employees at the forefront of its fiber-to-the-home project. Listen in as Conexon's SVP of Sales, Marketing, and Account Management, Abby Carere, speaks with Central Rural Electric Cooperative's CEO, Hunter Robinson, on the fiber project's impact on the culture of their organization, as well as his role in Oklahoma's broadband coalition.
Published February 14, 2023
One of the first electric cooperatives to partner with Conexon Connect in building a 100% fiber-to-the-home network, Central Georgia EMC was a trailblazer in connecting members to the future with world-class, high-speed internet. Listen in as Conexon's SVP of Sales, Marketing, and Account Management, Abby Carere, speaks with Central Georgia EMC's CEO, George Weaver, and Central Georgia EMC's COO, Ben Thomason, on how the fiber network has progressed and the lessons learned along the way.
Published January, 11, 2023
For many electric cooperatives, fiber projects often go beyond their own membership to serve surrounding areas with the high-speed internet desperately needed to stay connected in the digital age. This episode, listen in as Co-Mo Connect's CEO, Aaron Bradshaw, speaks with Conexon's SVP of Sales, Marketing, and Account Management, Abby Carere, on the ins and outs of expanding fiber networks.
Published October 5th, 2022.
Electric cooperatives made it their mission in the '30s and '40s to bring electricity to rural America. Today, they are committed to doing the same with fiber broadband projects. Tune in this week as Conexon's SVP of Sales, Marketing, and Account Management, Abby Carere, is joined by Cumberland EMC's Manager of Broadband Division, Mark Cook, and General Manager, Chris Davis, to discuss their strategy in translating Cumberland EMC's values to the Cumberland Connect brand.
Published September 7th, 2022.
It's no secret that a fiber project is both an intricate construction process and a costly undertaking, but it is a necessary addition to electric cooperatives to close the digital divide with today's levels of connectivity. Listen in as Conexon's SVP of Sales, Marketing, and Account Management, Abby Carere, speaks with North East Mississippi Electric Power Association's (NEMEPA) General Manager/CEO, Keith Hayward, on the topic of how funding made fiber a reality for NEMEPA members.
Published August 4th, 2022.
Fiber broadband offers communities so much more than high-speed internet: It also enables Smart Grid capabilities to improve connectivity and communications on the electric system. Tune into the latest episode of Co-ops Connect as Conexon's SVP of Sales, Marketing, and Account Management, Abby Carere, and guest host Carl Meyerhoefer, Conexon’s SVP of Business Development, are joined by Patrick Grace, CEO of Oklahoma Electric Cooperative, and Colby Wells, CEO of South Central Arkansas Electric Cooperative, to discuss the impact of fiber internet and smart grid technology on their co-ops’ business practices.
Published June 22nd, 2022.
Funding for broadband networks is a critical component of connecting rural America to high-speed fiber internet. This week, guest host Jonathan Chambers, Conexon Partner, and special guest Gary Wood, President/CEO of Central Virginia Electric Cooperative and Firefly Fiber, join Abby Carere, Conexon's SVP of Sales, Marketing, and Account Management, to dive deeper into all things funding. They discuss the programs Firefly Fiber took advantage of and how Conexon helped secure funding to make the project feasible.
Published May 11th, 2022.
The need for fiber broadband services was one that Central Georgia EMC was well aware of for many years. After two years of conversations with eight different broadband entities, Conexon Connect turned Central Georgia's dream of broadband to a reality with members beginning to connect to its service less than a year after the project announcement. Tune in as Conexon's SVP of Sales, Marketing and Account Management, Abby Carere, speaks with Central Georgia EMC's SVP of Energy Supply and External Services, Herschel Arant, to reflect on Conexon Connect's first partnership, Connect, powered by Central Georgia EMC.
Published April 12th, 2022.
When it comes to building a fiber-to-the-home (FTTH) network, everyone has a story that needs to be heard. GoSEMO Fiber, subsidiary of SEMO Electric Cooperative in Missouri, began its fiber network project in 2017 and has built nearly 2,000 miles of fiber, with over 7,000 connected subscribers. Sean Vanslyke, SEMO Electric CEO/General Manager, and Loyd Rice, SEMO Electric Cooperative's Manager of Fiber Services, sat down with Conexon's SVP of Sales, Marketing, and Account Management, Abby Carere, at the Co-ops Connect workshop to discuss how they've seen the workshop grow and the power of the true co-op spirit in forming relationships and sharing learnings.
Published March 4th, 2022.
After starting its fiber-to-the-home broadband project in 2018, Arkansas Valley Electric Cooperative and its fiber subsidiary, WAVE Rural Connect, dove head-first into the project to start connecting members that next year. Today, Wave has more than 10,000 subscribers. Arkansas Valley's Barret Ewing and Brandon Fischer join Conexon SVP of Sales, Marketing, and Account Management, Abby Carere, at the recent Co-ops Connect in Tampa to reflect on past workshops and discuss how Wave has achieved significant customer milestones.
Published February 11th, 2022.
In 2017, Oklahoma Electric Cooperative formed OEC Fiber to move full speed ahead with a fiber network build to bring high-speed internet to members. As one of Conexon's earliest clients, the OEC Fiber team has seen the growth of the electric co-op broadband movement, and more and more co-ops taking advantage of Conexon's industry-leading Co-ops Connect Workshops. OEC's CEO, Patrick Grace, joins Conexon's SVP of Sales, Marketing, and Account Management, Abby Carere, at Co-ops Connect 2021 to talk about OEC Fiber's journey to more than 20,000 connected subscribers and the power of cooperative spirit.
Published January 26th, 2022.
Washington EMC management waited and hoped for a provider to serve its rural Georgia residents with critical high-speed internet, but it became apparent that no one would. The EMC stepped up to deliver this life-changing service. Washington EMC's President and CEO, Wendy Sellers joins Conexon's SVP of Sales, Marketing, and Account Management, Abby Carere, to discuss how attendance at another EMC's broadband meeting led Washington EMC to partner with Conexon Connect to bring service to its members.
Published January 10th, 2022.
Broadband connectivity was a longstanding topic of discussion for Coast EPA and its fellow cooperatives in Mississippi. After going back and forth on the idea of bringing fiber internet to its members and conducting three feasibility studies, the Coast project kicked into gear when COVID-19 hit and the demand spiked. Abby Carere, Conexon's SVP of Sales, Marketing, and Account Management, caught up with Coast EPA President and CEO Ron Barnes at Co-ops Connect 2021 for a look back at the Coast fiber-to-the-home network journey.
Published December 7th, 2021.
After initially tabling the idea of bringing fiber broadband services to members, Osage Valley Electric Cooperative had a change of heart when leaders heard Conexon Founding Partner Randy Klindt speak about potential RDOF opportunities for the co-op's service territory. Jarrod Campbell, CEO of Osage Valley Electric Cooperative, sits down with Abby Carere, Conexon's SVP of Sales, Marketing, and Account Management, to reflect on how Conexon's feasibility study and change in business strategy during the RDOF auction allowed Osage Valley Electric in partnership with Conexon to hit the ground running with its fiber project.
Published November 2nd, 2021.
The power of the cooperative spirit has never been more evident than when East Mississippi Electric Power Association staff, members, and partners joined forces to leverage the power of Mississippi CARES Act federal funding to bring broadband to its 37,000 members. CEO Randy Carroll joins Abby Carere, Conexon's SVP of Sales, Marketing, and Account Management, to discuss how the co-op worked together to pull off the aggressive project timeline and started connecting the first customers after just 4 months.
Published October 6th, 2021.
When it came to launching East Central Oklahoma Electric Cooperative's fiber services, CEO Tim Smith learned early on there's no such thing as overcommunication. His cooperative formed a task force that became fiber subsidiary ecoLINK's biggest champion, spreading its benefits by word of mouth like wildfire. Smith sits down with Conexon's SVP of Sales, Marketing and Account Management, Abby Carere, to share his communications strategies for early success and plans for the future.
Published September 7th, 2021.
After searching for the right internet solution for co-op members since Hurricane Ike in 2008, Mid-South Electric Co-op in Texas tested fiber internet in 2018 and immediately recognized its potential for the service area. Conexon’s SVP of Sales, Marketing and Account Management, Abby Carere, talks with Mid-South CEO Kerry Kelton about how the co-op turned a pilot project into a three-year build within six months of starting to plan based on member demand.
Published July 28th, 2021.
Before smart grid technology, Arkansas' South Central Electric Cooperative staff spent hours every month visiting meters and manually reading data. South Central Connect CEO Colby Wells speaks with Conexon's SVP of Sales, Marketing and Account Management, Abby Carere, about how the co-op has evolved and streamlined daily operatives after implementing smart grid development.
Published July 7th, 2021.
The feasibility challenges identified for Pemiscot-Dunklin Electric Cooperative’s fiber-to-the-home network stacked up: a density of just 5 meters per mile and existing electric infrastructure that is 100% underground meant a build of 5-7 years. Conexon’s Abby Carere talks to Pemiscot-Dunklin Fiber General Manager Jack Davis about how TAP architecture and take rates that are beating all the models have changed the story for the Missouri co-op.
Published June 3rd, 2021.