Five electric co-ops in the Mid-Atlantic region have joined forces to help deliver broadband services to their residents, reports VirginiaBusiness.com. While the northeastern corridor is generally regarded as a high population density area, there are rural swathes in Maryland, Delaware, and Virginia that lack adequate connectivity.
“This association is the first of its kind in the nation,” stated Prince George Electric Cooperative CEO Casey Logan, the group’s new board chairman. “Much like the Virginia, Maryland & Delaware Association of Electric Cooperatives was created 76 years ago during the formative years of rural electrification, today’s formal organization of a broadband association will improve the quality of life for our members.”
The newly formed Maryland and Delaware Association of Broadband Cooperatives (VMDABC) encompasses BARC Electric Cooperative and its BARC Connects subsidiary; Central Virginia Electric Cooperative and its Firefly Fiber Broadband subsidiary; Prince George Electric Cooperative and its Ruralband subsidiary; and Mecklenburg Electric Cooperative along with its Empower Broadband subsidiary and Choptank Electric Cooperative and its Choptank Fiber LLC subsidiary.
“We are hoping and intending for this broadband association to help bring unserved areas in our three states into the digital age, much as our electric cooperative members brought their communities into the electric age in the 1930s and ’40s,” noted VMDAEC President and CEO Richard G. Johnstone Jr.
“Broadband access is something our members desperately need, as many rural areas are once again being left behind,” agreed Mecklenburg Electric Cooperative CEO John C. Lee Jr. “Generations of future Virginians and Marylanders will have opportunities to learn, to work, to communicate and to enjoy benefits long available to those in cities and suburbs, thanks to the efforts of our group of broadband cooperatives.”
Data gathered by the Federal Reserve Bank of Richmond in 2019 suggests that 60 percent of households in the Shenandoah Valley may lack adequate broadband connections. The VMDABC has expressed its commitment to bridge the digital divide in this lower income, underserved area.