United Fiber first got its start in 2010 when the United Electric Cooperative applied for funding via the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act. The grant it received enabled it to provide high-speed internet service to unserved and underserved co-op members in Missouri.
In the original footprint of 5,000 homes and businesses, a survey showed that 89% of the population had access to no higher than 5 Mbps/1 Mbps internet. These initial customers were connected to the internet in 2013 and now, United—operating under a subsidiary, United Fiber—never looked back.
United Fiber grew, both within the Electric Cooperative’s footprint and to local communities like St. Joseph, Cameron, and King City. In Cameron and King City, more than 65% of the community signed up for United Fiber’s broadband service. United also formed a special partnership for fiber connectivity with the region’s largest medical provider.
Today, United serves more than forty rural communities, with nearly four times as many fiber customers as electric members.
Over time, United Fiber’s day-to-day operational needs grew to the point where its managers were forced to look for a new outage management system.
When United Fiber’s customers experienced a disruption or outage in internet service, customer service calls increased exponentially. The process of communicating with customers about these disruptions became overwhelming in recent years, as its customer base grew.
“Ready aggregates data from our billing and network access systems so we can communicate with customers faster. It definitely saves us time, resources, and money.”
—Darren Farnan, General Manager of United Fiber
In 2021, United Fiber started a partnership with Ready to gain access to Ready’s much-needed geospatial and business intelligence tools.
• Funding opportunities: The company uses Ready's Broadband.money cloud data and software system to research and develop its expansion plans.
Specifically, it's using the service's broadband serviceable location and demand point mapping and demographic data to apply for grant funding from the Broadband, Equity, Access, and Deployment (BEAD) provisions of the Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act.
Ready provides detailed speed test and FCC 477 data at the neighborhood and household level, enabling United Fiber to see exactly which communities are unserved or underserved.
This data helps United in two ways: First, when United introduces broadband services to new communities, it knows which households need high-speed internet most and can efficiently target its marketing to those potential customers.
Second, Ready gives United the data needed to engage in both state and NTIA's challenge processes. Using Ready’s proprietary and publicly available data, United can make the case that although another provider may claim to serve a particular household or neighborhood, independent speed test data shows that these locations are underserved or unserved.
Rather than the United network team scrambling to pull customer data and customer service representatives rushing to send messages to affected customers, Ready consolidates United Fiber’s outage data and feeds it into its contact management software.
From there, pre-written customer messages are sent quickly and efficiently from the platform.
High-speed internet is a life changer for underserved and unserved communities.
One United Fiber customer reported that they used to drive their high school student to the local McDonalds parking lot to use the restaurant’s free Wi-Fi service.
Now, with fiber-based broadband service from United, that student enjoys a high-speed connection at home.
Stories like that one keep United Fiber’s foot on the gas, with continual plans to expand its network to communities throughout Missouri.
United will continue to use additional Ready-made tools and platforms such as the Community Broadband Toolkit, Turnkey Affordable Connectivity Program (Turnkey ACP) module, and Broadband.Money’s grant research and development platform.
This powerful and growing partnership between Ready and United will only grow as United serves more and more communities in Missouri.