By Nell Withers McCauley, CCC, SEDC, Atlanta, Ga.

As communicators, we can easily discuss how electric cooperatives were formed to bring power to rural America. Now many of these same cooperatives are faced with a new challenge: Bridging the rural digital divide in areas where broadband is unavailable. High-speed fixed service is available in 97 percent of urban regions, but in rural America that number drops to 65 percent. A staggering 30 million people are being left behind in the digital age.

High-speed Internet access, or broadband, is critical to economic opportunity, job creation, education, and civic engagement. As electric cooperative communicators, we are now tasked with telling our broadband story to members. In this issue, we invited communicators from three electric cooperatives to share their stories. The original idea for this article was to share broadband viewpoints from Adopt, Don’t Adopt and Don’t Know, but as you will discover, it is not that cut and dried.

Bringing the Next Greatest Thing to Members
By Tori Moss, Marketing & Communications Director, North Arkansas Electric Cooperative, Inc., Salem, Ark.

A Possible Middle Ground Approach to Broadband Connectivity
By Mike Wilson, CCC, Vice President of Member and Community Relations, Ill.

A Practice in Patience
By Greg Mullis, CCC, Senior Vice President/VP of Corporate Services, Tri-County EMC, Ga.

Review broadband resources available at Cooperative.com.

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