When can I join NRECA Broadband?
The application to join is now available.
What happens after I sign up?
Once you complete and submit the NRECA Broadband online application and agreement, a member of NRECA's membership department will be in touch soon to confirm your application and provide you with an invoice for the broadband fees. Participation in NRECA Broadband will commence upon receipt of payment for the first year's fees. Also at this time, participants will receive a digital welcome package, including additional details on current and planned broadband offerings, broadband contacts and more.
Why is this program voluntary?
We estimate some 350 electric co-ops have or will enter the telecommunications business, and their needs from a national program will differ significantly from those only in the electric business. Today, NRECA is not fully set up to address the unique risks, challenges and opportunities as an advocate for those members’ broadband business. So, the addition of services to help co-ops mitigate the political and policy risks associated with that sector requires new resources to support standalone value for those members.
What does NRECA Broadband participation provide that our NRECA membership dues do not? Do you have a list?
NRECA Broadband participation allows us to adequately fund federal advocacy related to both telecommunications policy as well as guidance on access to broadband funding. Additionally, NRECA Broadband participants will soon have access to exclusive trainings and events, white papers, analytics, technical research, cybersecurity tools and support, and a National Discounts Program specific to broadband vendors.
Co-ops entering the broadband industry will face a unique set of challenges, different from the electric industry. Some examples of anticipated challenges, include:
- A whole new set of federal and state regulations for broadband, voice and video services
- Regulatory reporting and compliance requirements related to federal funding
- Tax implications specific to broadband business and corporate structure
- Compliance with FCC broadband reporting and mapping to ensure accurate assessment of capabilities for future funding opportunities
NRECA Broadband will provide dedicated professionals with expertise in these areas to provide advocacy and compliance support to participants.
We will also be engaging early participants for their feedback and insight on the best ways NRECA Broadband can deliver value to our membership, now and in the future.
What does the competitive landscape look like in the telecommunications advocacy space?
Electric co-ops are competing with formidable organizations (and their associations) to get available funding and enable co-ops to meet consumer demands in the markets we want to supply. These broadband providers are spending as much as $40 million a year on broadband-related advocacy efforts.
The telecom industry spent $234 million on lobbying during 2019-2020, or nearly $320,000 a day, according to a study by Common Cause and the Communications Workers of America union. Comcast spent more than $43 million, AT&T spent $36 million during these years alone. It’s clear that electric co-ops have to invest more in order to compete with these organizations.
How will non-participants be kept from accessing exclusive benefits of NRECA Broadband?
Electric co-ops have always acted together to participate in NRECA’s advocacy programs, and we hope that will be the case for this group of members as well. While nearly all electric co-ops in the broadband business will benefit from NRECA advocacy in this new area, there are many opportunities to provide direct benefit to members who participate in NRECA Broadband—such as economic data, member events, training programs, communications materials, and publications specific to the telecommunications industry. These resources will not be available to the general NRECA membership.
Why does this program cost as much or more than NRECA electric co-op member dues?
Building significant new capacity in NRECA’s operations for government relations, communications, education and training, events, legal, and business and technology strategies will require a meaningful investment to be effective. We envision a minimum operating cost of $2 million/year to begin, or roughly five percent of total NRECA membership dues revenue. However, this cost will be shared by fewer NRECA member co-ops, which increases the cost per participant.
How will NRECA determine what policy positions to take on broadband issues?
NRECA is guided by our member resolutions, our member-elected board of directors and the NRECA bylaws. This will also be the case for how we conduct advocacy on broadband issues. In addition, participants in this effort will guide the association to take positions in their best interests as owners and/or operators of telecommunications infrastructure and businesses, as well as guide the association clear of conflicts of interest between all NRECA members.
Who should I contact if I want to learn more or discuss NRECA Broadband?
For additional information, contact us at NRECABroadband@nreca.coop and a member of the NRECA membership department will reach out to you as soon as possible.