Butler Electric Cooperative

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Butler Electric Cooperative Bringing Fixed Wireless And Fiber To Rural Kansas

Butler Electric Cooperative and its Velocity broadband subsidiary say they’re making meaningful progress in bringing fixed wireless access (FWA) — and ultimately fiber optic broadband — to long-neglected sections of rural south-central Kansas. It’s the latest example of electrical cooperatives playing a leading role in the longstanding quest to bridge the digital divide.

Butler Electric Cooperative, which provides electrical service to 7,000 meters via 1,850 miles of transmission and distribution lines, created Velocity in 2018 as part of the cooperative’s expansion into broadband access.

The service currently provides fixed wireless access to roughly 5,500 rural Kansas residents, long left out of reach of traditional cable, fiber, or DSL due to the logistical challenges and high cost of rural deployment.

The company’s current service tiers range from a 15 megabit per second (Mbps) downstream and 3 Mbps upstream tier for $60 a month, to a 100 Mbps downstream, 10 Mbps upstream tier for $84 a month. Both tiers feature a one-time installation fee of $200. The higher pricing generally reflects the higher prices of deployment to remote, rural areas.

Butler Elec Coop Kansas building

Velocity CEO Kevin Brownless tells Telecompetitor that the company tries to keep consumer-facing pricing as close to cost as possible, and that Velocity and Butler plan to drive fiber into these markets over the coming years thanks to federal subsidies.