Conexon’s Industry-Leading Broadband Event
Fiber-to-the-home solutions leader Conexon brings electric cooperatives together to share rural broadband strategies for success at its annual Co-ops Connect workshop. This two-day event focuses on education and networking with FTTH experts and from some of the most successful and diverse electric co-ops in rural America.
Save the Date for 2024!
November 4-6, 2024
The Vinoy Resort & Golf Club, Autograph Collection
St. Petersburg, Florida
Revisiting Co-ops Connect 2023: Insights, Highlights and Gratitude.
It’s hard to believe Co-ops Connect 2023 ended over one month ago already! Thank you to every person who attended our workshop. Your presence and participation contributed immensely to the success of the event – the diverse range of expertise and experiences that each participant brought to the table truly enriched the overall learning environment for all of us.
Key Highlights from Co-ops Connect 2023:
Interactive Discussions: Participants engaged in thought-provoking conversations on gaining traction in competitive markets, broadband lessons from trial and error, the fundamentals of fiber construction and design, targeted marketing, and more!
Collaborative Spirit: The cooperative spirit throughout the workshop was unmistakable as individuals from various backgrounds came together to explore common goals and resolve shared challenges.
Networking Success: The event facilitated meaningful connections, fostering new friendships and a sense of community among attendees.
Top 5 Takeaways From Co-ops Connect
1. “If we don’t do it, no one else will.”
This has been a refrain of electric co-ops since the 1930s. Even co-ops that had previously not wanted to get into broadband have found it necessary.
As one CEO recounted, in their service territory 30 of 100 high school seniors were unable to graduate in 2020 because lack of internet access made it impossible to finish school.
2. “I was told that I’d have to get 60 poles changed the first week, 90 the second week, then get to a pace of 120 per week after that.”
This year, our clients will change out nearly 200,000 poles for their broadband projects. The pace of make- ready construction by electric co-ops is unparalleled.
If states are looking for ways to spend BEAD funds, Kentucky’s pole replacement program is a good model for other states.
3. “Co-ops can compete against anyone.”
Missouri’s United Electric Cooperative has 7,000 members and a populationdensity of less than 2 meters per mile. Yet its broadband subsidiary now has over 26,000 subscribers and is planning to build into St. Joe which has a population of over 70,000.
To those who think co-ops’ inherent advantage in broadband is due to their ownership of poles, co-ops, like United Electric, have proven that a co-op’s true competitive advantage is the ethos of service.
4. “I don’t know what smart grid will become, but I know I’ll be in a good position with a fiber network.”
Whether it is connectivity to all electric devices, voltage control, or a self-healing grid, smart grid and fiber broadband go hand in hand.
Electric co-ops deploying fiber are at the forefront of smart grid experimentation and innovation.
5. “The BEAD program is an excessive amount of funding; states will struggle to spend it all.”
The federal government, having committed funding for rural broadband through the CAF, RDOF, ACAM, CARES, and ARPA programs, will allocate BEAD funds to states by the middle of 2023.
Once the areas funded by the other programs are removed, the only places most states will be able to spend BEAD are in areas served by cable broadband. Cable will go to war over that.