The Opportunity: What RDOF Means For Electric Co-Ops
In the first half of the twentieth century, electric cooperatives were formed and accepted the challenge of delivering electricity to rural America. These member-owned utilities succeeded where for-profit companies had declined to build. As a result of the cooperative effort, economic opportunity flourished and quality of life for rural communities improved dramatically. The FCC’s Rural Digital Opportunity Fund (RDOF) offers the nation’s electric cooperatives a similar challenge for the twenty-first century: a partnership to bridge the so-called digital divide and deliver high speed broadband services to many of these same rural communities.
Much like electricity transformed the industrial, educational and medical care outlooks for rural communities in the 1900s, Utility Grade Broadband will produce a wave of economic opportunity in this new century. Teachers and students will enjoy greater access to more and better resources. Rural communities will connect to modern health care that would otherwise be unavailable.
That’s not to say it will be easy. With $20.4 billion at stake, traditional communications service providers – who often overlook rural America as not profitable enough – will be competing hard for RDOF dollars.
Path to Success
The RDOF.com consortium exists to ensure electric cooperatives have the very best chance to secure the maximum awards for their communities. Our mission is to leverage some of the best resources in the country on behalf of rural electric cooperatives – and only electric cooperatives – to apply for and win maximum RDOF awards.
Together, we can secure RDOF awards and construct the best broadband networks in America to serve homes, schools, healthcare facilities and businesses in rural communities across the country.
RDOF is Tailor-Made for Cooperatives
In the FCC's previous efforts to bridge the digital divide, electric cooperatives were often underappreciated as broadband provider assets. However, electric co-ops demonstrated significant success in the 2018 Connect America Fund (CAF) II auctions, winning around 15% of the awarded funds. RDOF is ten times bigger than CAF II and the rules have been updated to recognize how cooperative-provided Utility Grade Broadband can be a life-changing catalyst for rural America.