An electric cooperative in Missouri is in the process of acquiring a neighboring wireless internet company to bring broadband across its 10-county service area.

"We may be rural, but we recognize the need for high-speed internet is universal," said Aaron Bradshaw, general manager and CEO of Intercounty Electric Cooperative Association in Licking, Missouri.

The co-op expects its acquisition of Texas County Rural Area Information Network, known as TRAIN, to be completed early next year.

The deal will allow IECA to capitalize on its existing fiber backbone, and a new subsidiary will deliver a wireless "last-mile" internet solution to the members and communities served by the co-op.

Bradshaw said the acquisition is intended to fulfill a need within the community for better broadband services, options and reliability, and is not revenue-driven. He said the co-op will keep current TRAIN employees and maintain the company's billing and accounting services for broadband.

"We are buying their assets and hiring their employees," Bradshaw said. "It will be mutually beneficial to IECA and TRAIN. It allows us to expand and to have a deeper support bench."

TRAIN has been in business since 1997 and already serves some co-op members. Bradshaw said rate changes are not expected for current customers.

"Eighty years ago, the need was electricity; today, the divide between how city and rural residents are served is in regards to high speed internet," said Bradshaw. "Needs may change, but IECA's commitment to serve does not."