Nearly 80 Community-based Providers Delivering Gigabit Broadband to Rural Communities | 2016 Press Releases | ABOUT NTCA
The bulk of these are located in the Midwest and upper Midwest -- areas of the United States that formed telephone cooperatives in the early 20th century to provide phone service to areas not served by investor-owned providers. In these areas, it's a natural migration from voice telephone service to Internet-based multimedia telecommunications.
A big challenge today is unlike the 1920s and 1930s when entire rural regions had little or no telecommunications infrastructure, the current state of modernizing telecom infrastructure in the Internet era doesn't neatly fall along rural demarcation lines.
Legacy, investor-owned telephone and cable companies have plenty of infrastructure in rural areas. It's just not even distributed. One group of premises will have landline service. But go down the road a mile or two, over the hill or around the bend and there's another group that does not. Consequently, it's hard to band together consumers to form telecom cooperatives in nominally rural areas other than those with a history of consumer utility cooperatives when those who have service don't perceive the need for one. Even if they aren't all that crazy about their current Internet service provider.