Callaway Electric Co-op Marching On In Missouri

Central Missouri’s Callaway Electric Cooperative began offering high-quality Internet access in 2016 by collaborating with a local telephone cooperative. Since then, it’s subsidiary, Callabyte Technology, has continued to expand its services to members in local rural communities in its service area. Recently, the people of the small community of Holts Summit learned that the project is headed their way.

Anticipating Better Broadband

Holts Summit residents and businesses can expect to receive the opportunity to sign up for Callabyte services in 2018. Business development supervisor for the cooperative, Rob Barnes told attendees at a recent Alderman meeting that the co-op would likely divide the deployment into three phases due to the size of the town. Holts Summit is about 3.5 square miles and home to 3,700 people.

The community of Holts Summit obtains electric service from Ameren Missouri, rather than Callaway Electric; Holts Summit and the cooperative are developing a non-exclusive franchise agreement just as they would a private sector provider that wished to offer video services in Missouri. Businesses and residents in the town currently use satellite Internet service and cable Internet access from Mediacom.

"We've got a number of citizens that would like to start a home-based business, but won't because they don't have reliable internet right now," [City Administrator Rick] Hess said. "So this will be great for businesses."

Ever Growing Service From Co-ops

Calloway Electric Cooperative has been reaching an expanding list of communities and intends to provide service all of Calloway County. They offer Internet access, voice, and video bundles and people in their service area are signing up for all three.

“We are still surprised that the landline service is something people still are taking,” Barnes said. “But as you get out into the rural portions of Callaway County, cellphone service still doesn’t work very well.”

Callobyte stand-alone residential Internet access is available for 100 Megabits per second (Mbps) for $65 per month, 500 Mbps for $75 per month, or 1 gig (1,000 Mbps) for $95 per month. All speed tiers are symmetrical.

Within rural areas where large national providers don’t find it profitable to invest in high-quality Internet network infrastructure, rural electric and telephone cooperatives are providing the coverage Americans need. Often they already have the expertise, infrastructure, and processes in place to deploy and manage networks in these sparsely populated regions.

Read more about the increasing role of cooperatives in next-generation Internet access in rural America in our 2017 policy brief, Cooperatives Fiberize Rural America: A Trusted Model For The Internet Era. You can also learn about the important role of cooperatives in developing fiber networks in North Dakota in episode 288 of the Community Broadband Bits podcast; Christopher interviewed Robin Anderson from National Information Solutions Cooperative.