Powering Cooperative Success with Feasibility and Financing

We believe the only way to ensure broadband across rural America is through electric cooperatives. Committed to improving lives, serving members and bettering their communities, electric co-ops across the country are demonstrating their willingness to invest the time, money and intellectual resources to deploy broadband in their areas. Our goal is to help co-ops like yours accomplish this, with resources for every step of the way – from proving out business feasibility to securing federal funds for deployment, designing your network, managing construction and much more.

Feasibility/Business Plan Analysis

A comprehensive, accurate and realistic feasibility plan is the critical first step for any broadband deployment. Conexon’s team of professionals – many of them co-op veterans – takes a holistic and thorough approach to assessing your co-op’s ability to successfully deploy a fiber-to-the-home (FTTH) network. We look at every aspect of your infrastructure, operations and business model to first determine if broadband makes sense for your co-op, and if so, how to deploy and operate in the most efficient way. Some of what our feasibility study delivers:

  • Long-term (20 year) financial forecast to determine project viability (based on latest cooperative financial statements and budgets and forecasts)
  • Determination of build-out based on financing needs, including competitive map overlay and analysis of Connect America Fund obligations (or other funding mechanism) and build-out requirements by incumbent carriers
  • Analysis of all service offerings including broadband, television and telephone and recommended enduser bundling options
  • Demographic and economic analysis of your served counties compared to other successful cooperative fiber projects
  • Inclusion of smart grid network connections in network capacity and design cost analysis
  • Recommended architecture and technology selection for financial projection
  • Expert recommendations to improve the likelihood of success including financing, architecture, additional services, or areas to supplement density
  • Advice on federal regulatory issues

That before and after review demonstrated…

Tim Smith

.. what the auction meant to our co-op,” Smith says. “The results of the CAF II award mean we will not be subsidizing the build-out from the electric side, which is important for us. We had no idea of the magnitude of the auction, but Conexon did and that’s part of the value they bring to a partnership.

ecoLINK

Tim Smith
GM ECOEC

We were still trying to figure out the best way…

Gary Wood

… to get to where we wanted to go,” Wood recalls, “when at a CEO conference, Jonathan Chambers gave a talk about Conexon, its co-op experience and its approach to fiber. We decided to take one more look at whether a fiber buildout was feasible on our system.”

That “one more look” led to a feasibility study delivered by Conexon that ultimately brought CVEC’s broadband efforts full circle – the decision to serve members with its own high-speed data network.

Firefly Broadband

Gary Wood
President & CEO, Central Virginia Electric Cooperative

In 2018, the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) awarded more than $186 million in broadband funding to a consortium of electric cooperatives to build out Gigabit-capable networks. It was the largest and most successful bidding consortium in FCC history – one assembled, designed and led by Conexon.

FTTH Availability example

Funding Expertise

Conexon’s funding and regulatory initiatives, led by the former chief of the Office of Strategic Planning for the Federal Communications Commission, are unmatched in successfully identifying and securing available public broadband funds. We have helped our co-op clients secure more than $200 million in federal and state funding.

US Government Grant Programs

The government has been investing rural telecommunications infrastructure for decades. There are current and future programs offering billions in grants and loans for broadband connectivity and rural communities. Our experts can help you navigate the current and future funding opportunities and help prepare your application. The “scoring” you receive on applications will determine the level of funding you receive. The applications drafted by us have consistently earned high scores which translated into optimum funding for our clients.

Rural Digital Opportunity Fund

The FCC has begun distributing public funds for rural broadband by reverse auction, starting with the Connect America Fund (CAF) II auction. In 2018, Conexon successfully led the Rural Electric Cooperative Consortium, a bidding group that secured funding for Gigabit-capable networks. The FCC has announced a new Rural Digital Opportunity Fund, which will be a super-sized CAF auction of $20.4 billion in 2020. We have already begun to prepare and encourage you to join us