Beatty, a small, rural town about 45 minutes from Las Vegas, will be Nevada’s very first all-fiber community. Making it so was not a short or simple process, but it was incredibly worthwhile. And it would not have been possible without the commitment of Valley Electric Association, a Cooperative that is bringing fiber to the entire town.
Valley Electric, which has been around for over 50 years, provides electricity for 6,800 square miles in Nevada. Since they were already planning to install fiber to power smart meters for their members in the area, Valley Electric decided to lay down enough fiber to power the entire community and its schools.
Having access to fiber is not only essential for K-12 schools, but it is also a means of leveling the economic playing field for residents of rural communities.
Why Deliver Fiber To Rural Communities?
“Residents who choose to live in small rural communities like Beatty know that there are tradeoffs to the wide-open spaces and more simple, rural lifestyle. Total access to the Internet through fiber optics will eliminate a huge barrier, which has long-range impacts ranging from medical care to education and even to economic development.” – Nevada Governor Brian Sandoval
For Beatty High School in Nye County School District, having a fiber-optic connection was a game-changer that gave “small communities a fighting chance.” The school originally had a 20 Mbps microwave connection, and essential programs like testing were nearly impossible to administer without serious interruptions.
It impacted standardized testing and distance learning programs. It has also given Beatty and the surrounding communities increased flexibility for working remotely and starting small businesses, bolstering economic growth and development.
Two Critical Tips for a Successful Fiber Build to a Rural District
Though Valley Electric was fully committed to making fiber a reality for Beatty and the surrounding towns, it was not an easy process. Having gleaned a lot of wisdom throughout their experience, here are two tips the cooperative offers to other service providers who may be considering a fiber build in a small-town community:
- “Adopt the right attitude–that fiber needs to happen. And then it becomes: how? Too many providers make it an ‘if.'”
“We first had to make the commitment that we were going to do something to improve broadband options for the members. If we had approached it as ‘we’d like to,’ when we ran into that initial layer of resistance, we probably wouldn’t have succeeded. We were committed to finding a solution.” – Mike Hengel, Executive VP – Corporate Communications, Valley Electric Association
- Gauge the demand for fiber and plan around it. For example, it can be helpful to look for more than one community anchor institution, such as a school district, a community health center, or a library, and plan to build to several of those institutions.
That takes your business from one revenue stream to multiple revenue stream possibilities – and sets you up for long term growth. Get the word out to all of those organizations that you are looking to build fiber, and the demand may spring up in unexpected places.
See more tips and guidelines for a fiber build here.