A new national poll shows that electric cooperative values give consumer-members faith that they would do a better job of providing reliable, affordable broadband service than big telecommunication companies.

Responses to the survey, conducted for NRECA by Frederick Polls in April and May, indicate that members trust their co-op’s broadband mission after hearing about their track record of quality service, keeping costs low and improving the quality of life in their communities.

“This research clearly confirms that consumer-members strongly value the attributes of their co-op and assign those to a broadband business that is aligned with their electric co-op,” said Scott Peterson, NRECA’s senior vice president for communications. “Cooperatives providing broadband should recognize the difference they make to broadband consumers and leverage the strength of their brand as electric cooperatives.”

The survey asked 750 co-op consumer-members if they thought the “best trusted provider of new broadband internet service” in their area would be their cooperative or a nationally known telecommunications company like AT&T, Google or Verizon.

Initially, only 35% favored subscribing to broadband from their co-op over a nationally known internet provider. But that number leapt to 60% after the members heard statements affirming the benefits of co-op-delivered broadband, including local ownership, community investment, existing co-op infrastructure and reliability.

Electric co-ops that are already in the broadband business know firsthand how member familiarity with co-op principles can make all the difference.

“We are homegrown,” said Casey Logan, president and CEO of Prince George Electric Cooperative in Waverly, Virginia. PGEC’s RURALBAND has been up and running since 2019 and will reach all 12,000 co-op members by year’s end.

“Our members trust us. The community trusts us,” said Logan. “We were able to leverage those relationships to get the job done.”

Members also showed strong support for co-ops pursuing billions of dollars in new federal aid for broadband and bringing that money home.

“Once respondents were cued about the benefits and value their co-op brings to their community, it seemed to open their eyes to the positives of co-op broadband,” Peterson said.

“For co-ops just starting out in the broadband business, a first order of marketing is to remind potential broadband customers of these highly valued co-op qualities.”

For more information on NRECA's dedicated set of services for co-ops working in the telecommunications arena, visit cooperative.com/broadband.