Why is My Electric Cooperative Selling Me Internet?

Dixie Electric has worked hard to build a reliable, affordable, and dependable network with DE Fastlink. So, why is your electric cooperative getting into broadband? Today, we’re taking some time to answer that question.

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 number 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 1930s. 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.

In 1935, President Roosevelt signed an executive order to electrify rural areas. This order not only provided rural electrification, but it also provided jobs for Americans who desperately needed them during the Depression. In 1936, Congress approved the Rural Electrification Act and Roosevelt signed the legislation, making the Rural Electrification Administration a permanent federal agency. This Act allowed REA to receive funding and, in turn, offer low-interest loans to rural residents who created electric cooperatives and brought power to rural America. In 1938, Jones County EPA, which would soon be Dixie Electric Power Association, received a REA loan and began offering electric service to rural areas seven short months later.

Why Did Rural America Need This Extensive Investment and Co-ops 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 co-ops and other resources were needed to provide electricity also bears on why Dixie Electric 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 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 Co-ops 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.

However, innovative thinkers realized that electric cooperatives could be the model for providing rural broadband across underserved regions of the country. After all, 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 Dixie Electric 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. We know connection matters, and we’re here to bridge the digital divide in Mississippi.  

To learn more about DE Fastlink 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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