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27-Jan-2020Co-op Leaders Meet with FCC to Discuss Rural Broadband Expansion

Date: January 23, 2020

For Immediate Release

Contact: Tish Blackwell, 800-846-2272 (tblackwell@barcelectric.com)

The group came together advocating for key steps the agency can take to help bridge the digital divide in rural America

Millboro, VA Earlier this month the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) released the draft ground rules for obtaining funding from the Rural Development Opportunity Fund (RDOF).  This auction will allocate a total of $20.4 billion across the country to support the development of broadband networks in rural America.

Co-op leaders from across the country, including BARC CEO Mike Keyser, and National Rural Electric Cooperative Association (NRECA) CEO Jim Matheson, took action this week to meet with FCC Commissioners pressing to adopt rules that will maximize the impact of allocated funding throughout rural America to help bridge the digital divide. The cooperatives and national trade association support the draft order. Meetings this week are to encourage enhancements to the draft that will include higher speed tier requirements for networks and improve the collection and mapping of unserved and underserved areas. 

In 2018, 32 cooperatives won 35 bids in the FCC’s CAF 2 (Connect America Funding) totaling $250 million. BARC participated in that auction and was awarded $4.97 million to assist with broadband deployment connecting the communities in its electric service area. The upcoming auction will allow BARC another opportunity to obtain funding, assisting with the high cost of bringing world-class broadband service to the rural Shenandoah Valley.

 “We are working with our national trade association and meeting with the FCC Commissioners to ensure BARC and other cooperatives that are building fiber networks have a voice in the proposed rules,” said BARC CEO Mike Keyser. “We want to ensure the RDOF auction spurs investment in high-speed internet that will meet rural communities needs for now and the future.”

The rules for this second broadband reverse auction will be formally acted upon on January 30, 2020 by the FCC.

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About BARC

            BARC Electric Cooperative is a customer-owned electric cooperative serving 13,000 residents, farms and businesses across five counties in Virginia. To continue to serve and meet the needs of its members, BARC constructed the first community solar garden in the Commonwealth and provides high-speed Internet, telephone and television service through BARC Connects, its wholly-owned fiber-to-the-home subsidiary. This institution is an equal opportunity provider and employer. To learn more about all the exciting things happening at BARC, visit www.barcelectric.com and www.barcconnects.net.