Press Release: Cooperatives Bridging Rural America’s Digital Divide with Fiber Optics

MINNEAPOLIS, MINN. (June 27, 2019) - Nearly a century after bringing electricity and telephone services to America’s rural households, cooperatives are tackling a new challenge: the rural digital divide. An updated report from the Institute for Local Self-Reliance (ILSR) illustrates the remarkable progress co-ops have made in deploying fiber optic Internet access across the country. 

“Cooperatives Fiberize Rural America: A Trusted Model For The Internet Era” [PDF] features new maps showing overall growth in areas served by co-ops, as well as expanded information about state legislation that supports co-op investment in broadband networks. A few important takeaways: 

More than 140 co-ops across the country now offer residential gigabit Internet access to their members, reaching more than 300 communities. 

70.7% of North Dakota and 47.8% of South Dakota landmass is served by co-ops, and residents enjoy some of the fastest Internet access speeds in the nation. 

Georgia and Mississippi have overturned state laws banning co-ops from offering Internet access, and other states are considering legislation that would further ease the way. 

Co-ops have proven that this is a model that works. With increased support from federal and state governments, they will continue to connect Americans in rural areas to economic and educational opportunities otherwise denied to them. 


About Christopher Mitchell:

Christopher Mitchell is the Director of the Community Broadband Networks initiative with the Institute for Local Self-Reliance. He is a leading national expert on community networks, advising high-ranking broadband decision-makers and speaking on radio and television programs across the United States.

FOR MORE INFORMATION and to schedule an interview with Christopher, call Jess Del Fiacco at 612-540-5997 or email



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