|Institute for Local Self-Reliance map; click the image to enlarge it.|
The report is an update of a 2017 report from the Institute for Local Self-Reliance, which advocates for local-government solutions. "According to ILSR, there are approximately 260 telecom cooperatives and 900 electric cooperatives in the U.S. and they serve much of rural America. While telecom cooperative fiber deployments are quite common, such deployments are becoming increasingly common among electric cooperatives as well," Engebretson reports. "Currently, about 10 percent of electric cooperatives have a fiber internet access project and many more are considering such projects, according to ILSR. More than 110 rural electric cooperatives in the U.S. have embarked on fiber projects, according to the researchers."
In its report, ILSR provides several recommendations for policymakers to encourage more co-ops to build out broadband, including:
- Designing funding programs with cooperatives in mind.
- Encouraging partnerships with cooperatives and remove barriers to broadband implementation.
- Talking to people in the community and make it clear that broadband isn't just about entertainment; it's important for farming and other jobs.