Broadband Subsidiary: RuralBand
Virginia’s Prince George Electric Cooperative (PGEC) may not have been the earliest contender in the co-op-driven broadband movement, but it certainly holds a distinction – the first electric co-op in the state to connect a subscriber on a fiber-to-the-home (FTTH) network.
The board and leadership team of PGEC began exploring the idea of broadband – what CEO Casey Logan refers to as the “fourth utility” – in 2016, then launching a pilot and connecting its first customer in 2017. The co-op’s subsequent broadband commitment was tremendous – a $25 to $30 million investment to deploy 1,300 miles of fiber supporting five counties, and 20,000 customers, both members and non-members.
The FTTH project, expected to take 10 or more years, was underway when Logan heard about Conexon’s Rural Electric Cooperative Consortium – co-ops banding together to bid in the Connect America Fund (CAF) II auction on territories to provide gigabit networks in their communities. He made a phone call to Conexon Partners Randy Klindt and Jonathan Chambers, and in short order, signed on with the consortium. Prince George Electric was ultimately awarded $15.4 million, funding that allowed PGEC to ramp its deployment, shorten its timeline by nearly half, and break-even in under three years versus the original projections of nine-to-10 years.
“It was obvious from the first call how knowledgeable Jonathan was about the ins and outs of the auction, and the expertise on Conexon’s staff was clear,” Logan said. “It was a no-brainer to join the consortium and we were very successful.