Why Is My Electric Company Selling Me Internet?

Did you hear the news? DFN is building a fiber network to bring you fast, reliable internet!

While we’re very excited about this news, we also understand that you may have questions about why your electric cooperative is getting into broadband. Today, we’re taking some time to answer those questions.

Read on to learn more about the history of electric cooperatives like ours—and why we view broadband as the right next step for our cooperative and community!

Electrifying—and Revitalizing—Rural America

It seems like a long time ago, but just 90 years ago, a staggering amount of homes in rural America were left out of the electricity boom that ignited cities and suburbs (and their economies) elsewhere in our country. Indeed, 90% of all rural households had no access to electricity. Rural America was essentially left behind as the rest of urban and suburban America plowed ahead.

But that began to change in the early-to-mid 1930’s. Beginning with President Franklin Roosevelt’s rural electrification initiative, the United States began prioritizing bringing the power and promise of electricity to more remote areas.

One of the most well-known (and largest) of these actions was the creation of the Tennessee Valley Authority (TVA) in 1933. A vast public works effort, the TVA provided power to millions of Americans in seven states: Alabama, Georgia, Kentucky, Mississippi, North Carolina, Tennessee, and Virginia.

After the enormous success of the TVA in expanding economic opportunity and improving quality of life to the TVA service areas, other initiatives grew to replicate the revitalizing impacts of bringing electricity to rural areas. Among those was the Roosevelt Administration’s drafting of the model law known as the Electric Cooperative Corporation Act (ECCA). The ECCA helped states develop consumer-owned, non-profit electric cooperatives that help light up rural areas to this day.

Why Did Rural America Need This Extensive Investment and Coops In the First Place?

Nearly 100 years ago, it took a herculean effort to provide power to the rural regions of America. From the massive dam and reservoir and electric grid systems of the TVA to the intricate electric cooperative legislation that enables coops to exist to this day, a lot of work—and money—went into electrifying rural America.

Well, the reason why coops and other resources were needed to provide electricity also bears on why DFN is now providing fiber internet. For both gargantuan efforts—electricity and broadband internet—massive amounts of capital investments are needed. And since rural areas naturally have a smaller number of customers to warrant that investment, larger private companies and banks just weren’t touching it.

For decades prior to the 1930s, it was this natural economic reality that prevented rural America from getting electricity that would enable proper development and advancement. And the same economic reality has been true for high-speed internet service today.

Electric Coops Provide Rural Broadband—and Hope for a Stronger Economy and Future

In the same way that large electric companies would not invest in rural America in the early 20th century, most large internet service providers did not see the profitability necessary for them to invest heavily in infrastructure to provide high-speed internet to those same areas in the early 21st century. History, it seemed, was about to repeat itself, leaving rural America behind.

But innovative thinkers realized that electric cooperatives could be the model for providing rural broadband across underserved regions of the country. Afterall, they already had the authority to provide similar essential services—namely electricity. And they had the legislative and regulatory frameworks in place to properly manage and operate the extensive capital efforts an advanced fiber network requires.

Thus, in a sense, it is perfectly natural that electric coops like DFN are offering you high-speed internet! We are filling the same kinds of previously unfulfilled community needs that larger companies overlooked in the last century. And we’re doing it in the same consumer-owned, not-for-profit way that you and your neighbors have trusted for years.

To learn more about DFN and our advanced fiber network—and how it can revolutionize your home or small business—feel free to reach out to our customer support specialists. They’ll be happy to explain our plans and get you on the path to high-speed internet.

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