United receives $20 Million broadband funding award in FCC Connect America Fund (CAF II) Auction


October 22nd, 2018

United receives $20 Million broadband funding award in FCC Connect America Fund (CAF II) Auction

United Services, a subsidiary of United Electric Cooperative, has been awarded over $20 million dollars in funding to be used over the next 10 years to expand their world class broadband service in Northwest Missouri. While it has been years in the making, this award marks a significant victory for United, and the ability for electric cooperatives nationwide to access the FCC funding.

The total CAF II budget of $1.98 billion over 10 years was made available by the FCC in areas where price cap (large telephone) carriers declined support, or in high-cost areas considered too expensive for model-based support.  To have funding available, these areas (census blocks) could not have already been receiving internet services of at least 10/1 Mbps service according to the National Broadband Map.  

“This is a historic event for rural broadband funding. In the past, this money has automatically gone to the large carriers that have a very poor track record of providing broadband service to rural markets. United is making long-term investments and bringing real broadband to our region. It is exciting to see the FCC recognize this commitment, and the willingness to make critical funding available to the providers bringing the highest value to rural America,” stated Jim Bagley, CEO for United Electric Cooperative and United Services.

The CAF 10-year funding cycle will begin in 2019, and providers must complete construction within 6 years.  United plans to complete the construction phase ahead of schedule in a 4-year plan. “We are working through our construction design and will have phase maps available soon.  These projects require substantial labor and material resources, but we are dedicated to providing service as soon as possible,” added Bagley.

United believes the CAF II auction is the catalyst to get broadband service to our entire membership. Without the auction it would be extremely difficult to get service to the most expensive builds and sparsely populated areas of its service territory. United will focus on serving members in our awarded funding areas, and closely monitor the areas where other entities were awarded CAF II funding to serve our members. This final push will guarantee the membership will win from being served with broadband service, while also reaping the financial benefits that United Services brings to the cooperative. Helping the cooperative give back to its membership financially and keeping the current trajectory of stable electric rates is the critical element of United Services.

The CAF II funding award will allow United Services to extend their network to more members and communities in desperate need of the educational, economic development, health care and overall quality of life benefits real broadband connectivity provides.

Since 2011, United has built over 1500 miles of fiber and currently serves over 7000 customers with cutting-edge fiber and wireless broadband services.  As one of the lowest density cooperatives in the state of Missouri with only 2.4 meters per mile, United has been able to serve areas thought to be too expensive to reach by traditional carriers.  

United Electric Cooperative is a rural electric cooperative owned by its members served and governed by a board of directors.  United Electric Cooperative has over 4,000 miles of distribution lines that provide power to more than 9,700 meters which serve more than 7,000 members in 11 counties in Northwest Missouri and Southwest Iowa.