The dictionary defines partnership as “an association of two or more people as partners”. The legal notation is that a partnership is an arrangement where parties, know as partners, agree to cooperate to advance their mutual interests. The partners in a partnership may be individuals, businesses, interest-based organizations, schools, governments etc.” What makes it special in my book? When it’s an NTCA community broadband provider partnering with another NTCA member, community entity or even another local utility to find ways to bridge digital access for rural America.
That is why I simply loved the announcement that came out today from RiverStreet Networks, a subsidiary of Wilkes Communications in North Carolina, announcing that they and the North Carolina electric cooperatives have pulled together a partnership to enable the expansion of high-speed internet access to unserved and underserved rural communities across the state of North Carolina. This partnership is ready to execute several pilot demonstration projects that could become models for providing much needed internet access to those who rural consumers who have anxiously been awaiting that information age “on ramp.”
The rural utilities engaged in this effort noted the long history that all have in ensuring that their consumers, who are their neighbors, are well served. The electric cooperatives shared the advantages that will come from allowing their consumers to better manage their home energy use as well as make cooperative distribution systems more dynamic and efficient…not to mention all of the other terrific benefits that this technology brings in the space of economic development, service delivery and healthcare opportunities for rural communities. RiverStreet Networks will be able to utilize their advanced experience in the broadband space to support these efforts and will be able to expand their footprint and consumers opportunities to boot. Truly what we call a win-win-win.
I’ll be anxious to hear more about this new partnership in the days ahead but applauded CEO Eric Cramer’s comments that “We have a long history of collaboration with the state’s electric cooperatives, and this partnership will allow us to expand that relationship and achieve our mutual goal of providing more rural North Carolina communities with broadband connectivity.”
While this model won’t work in every state, I remain optimistic that “rolling stones gather moss” and more creative ways to work together – in any combination – will be coming to bridge the rural/rural digital divide.