fiber optics

We’re less than two weeks into 2021 and two telco electric broadband partnerships already have been announced. The latest one comes from Comporium and York Electric Cooperative for a deployment in rural South Carolina.

Last week, Indiana-based telco Smithville and Utilities District of Western Indiana REMC announced a joint venture to pursue a broadband deployment in a rural area of the state.

Comporium and York Electric Cooperative

Comporium and York Electric Cooperative plan to make gigabit fiber available to approximately 5,000 YEC members in western York and parts of Cherokee county. Comporium will be the service provider and will also offer streaming video, voice, home automation and security services.

Some residents could have service available to them by mid-year, although the entire project is expected to take two to three years to complete.

In a press release, YEC CEO Paul Basha said the project will “bring broadband to many who have suffered from insufficient access for several years” and will hold true to YEC’s “promise of improving the quality of life for those living in our communities.”

The press release did not provide details about ownership structure or revenue sharing, but over the years, telco electric broadband partnerships have used a variety of approaches. In some cases, both partners may contribute to network construction costs, while in other cases just one partner pays upfront costs in exchange for other benefits. In at least one example, the two companies merged.

Telco electric broadband partnerships at one time were relatively rare, as the two types of companies sometimes viewed one another as rivals. But such partnerships have steadily gained momentum as companies realize the synergies they can get from working together. Rural electric cooperatives often have pole infrastructure that can reduce deployment costs substantially, and telcos have broadband expertise that the electric companies may lack.

Telecompetitor reported on telco electric partnerships last year, including some involving companies as big as Windstream and Cincinnati Bell.

One of our final posts of 2020 noted that such partnerships were a significant trend – a trend that, so far, seems to be gaining even more momentum in 2021.

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