Electric Cooperatives Meet Local Demand for High-Speed Broadband

Monday, August 27, 2018

Access to high-speed internet is critical for businesses looking to compete in a global economy, students conducting research for school, entrepreneurs launching a company, and families who want the simple pleasure of streaming a movie on Friday nights.  The issue goes beyond such pleasantries. Unfortunately, too many of Arkansas citizens haven’t had access to broadband, essentially leaving them in the dark. Electric cooperatives throughout the state have stepped up to the plate to solve this problem.

Bringing broadband to rural Arkansas

Electric cooperatives across Arkansas have begun to install fiber to home and business in the areas they serve that do not have adequate access.  In the 1940s, non-profit electric cooperatives formed to bring electricity to rural Arkansas when investor-owned utilities failed to do so. Now our students, teachers, and businesses live in digital darkness.  Electric cooperatives are again stepping up to provide high-speed broadband to the areas we serve to improve quality of life and the state’s overall economy. Below are just a few examples of what electric cooperatives are doing in Arkansas.

Ozarks GO

Ozarks GO is out to change how the internet works for people in rural Arkansas. As they say on their website, “For too long, our region has lacked access to fast, reliable internet. We're here to change that, offering lightning fast internet speeds of up to one gigabit.” They are a broadband company with a fiber network that allows customers to stream video content in HD, benefit from crystal clear phone reception, and go places online without delay. To see if Ozarks GO is available in your area, click here.

North Arkansas NEXT

Powered by North Arkansas Electric Cooperative, NEXT is bringing fiber to families and businesses throughout the region. “North Arkansas Electric Cooperative provides more than just electricity. Bringing state-of-the-art unmatched broadband internet, telephone and television services, NAEC is responding to the needs of our members. The choice is simple – service from an organization you trust. It’s the next greatest thing since electricity.” Customers who qualify to receive all three services receive a discount on their monthly bill. Click here to see if NEXT fiber is available in your area.

Empower

Craighead Electric is laying over 5,000 miles if fiber optic cable to bring broadband to rural Northeast Arkansas. This is a seven-year, $1 million project that will allow their members to access to high-speed internet (up to 1 GB of speed). By the end of 2020, half of their members should have access to high-speed internet, with the project being completed by 2024. This is a significant investment for the cooperative that will bring over 30,000 members into the digital age. Learn more about this project here.

South Central Connect

South Central Connect is a subsidiary of South Central Arkansas Electric Cooperative. They have already begun providing high-speed broadband internet to some of their members, with the goal of offering it to all their members. With fiber optic cable being laid by the cooperative, members in rural area are coming online and benefiting from the ability to stream, have clear reception, and navigate the internet quickly. They also offer a bundled service with internet, TV, and phone services. Find out if it is available in your area.

Ouachita Electric Cooperative ARIS

Ouachita Electric Cooperative (OECC) and South Arkansas Telephone (SATCO) have formed a new company called ARIS to bring gigabit internet service to thousands of homes and businesses in south Arkansas. ARIS has started delivering services to customers, with the goal of reaching all of 9500 homes and businesses of the OECC membership with fiber optic network services over the next few years.  The initial packages will include options for Gigabit Internet services, digital voice with unlimited local and long distance, and video services with options for up to 70 channels. Click here to learn more.

Why Electric Cooperatives are in the Internet Business

Electric cooperatives are member-based organizations that exist to meet the needs of members, both families and businesses. Rather than being for-profit, they are for members. As members have expressed the need for high-speed internet, many cooperatives have identified ways to meet this need. By doing so, they are ensuring that the citizens of Arkansas are not left behind.

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Concern for Community

This is one of the seven principles that guide the electric cooperatives. One way we accomplish this is through programs designed for youth of various ages. From electrical safety programs to the annual Youth Tour to Washington, we are committed to the youth of Arkansas.