The Utilities Broadband Council (UBC) is a sub-council of the Utilities Technology Council that is dedicated to promoting opportunities for utilities to bring robust, reliable and affordable broadband services to America. The UBC was formed as a home for utilities that are actively offering broadband or interested in doing so to the customers that they serve. These utilities are uniquely positioned to offer broadband because they have extensive communications networks and other infrastructure that can be leveraged to provide broadband to areas that are currently unserved or underserved by other commercial service providers.
The UBC members recognize that broadband is essential to economic growth in today’s economy, and it is essential for education and social interaction in the internet era. Not only is it important for rural areas to have access to broadband, but municipal and private broadband provides robust, reliable and affordable service across the country.

The Utilities Broadband Council

The Utilities Broadband Council (UBC) was created to expand UTC’s efforts to provide advocacy, education and information, and networking to drive the development of utility broadband.  The UBC is composed of three subgroups: the Rural Broadband Council (RBC), the Municipal Broadband Council (MBC) and the Private Broadband Council (PBC) – each of which will focus on different aspects of utility broadband.

  • RBC has promoted opportunities for broadband funding for rural utilities, and won a huge victory last year by carving-out opportunities for utilities to access funding through the Connect America Fund, where utilities applied to provide Rural Broadband Experiments. That win prevented ILECs from taking all of the available money for themselves, and positions utilities to be able to compete with the ILECs for the money that is available in those areas where they applied to provide rural broadband experiments.
  • MBC will educate and inform municipal members of regulatory issues and work with them to create webinars and case studies/whitepapers. We will be holding more workshops and webinars this year so that utilities and municipal leaders can gain valuable information that will help them successfully offer broadband services
  • PBC will focus on investor owned utilities for UTC and we will build out this key focus area in the coming months.

In May 2017, UTC leadership and membership decided to rebrand the Rural Broadband Council (RBC) to the  new Utilities Broadband Council (UBC)

The focus of the UBC is to provide legislative and regulatory advocacy and liaisons with other interested organizations. UBC will promote opportunities for broadband funding for utilities; educate and inform members through newsletters, webinars and case studies; and enable networking with utilities on ways to provide broadband in their areas.

Below is a Q&A regarding the rebranding and expansion efforts for broadband within UTC:

  1. Why is UTC rebranding the RBC?
    • UTC is creating the UBC to support all aspects of utility broadband in addition to rural broadband.  It is a recognition that there are municipal utilities who are offering broadband, and they may have different issues and interests than rural broadband.  It is also a recognition that there are investor-owned utilities who are interested in providing broadband, either on a wholesale or retail basis, and they too may have different issues and interests than rural broadband.
  2. What does this mean for rural broadband?
    • UTC will continue to support rural broadband through the RBC.  All of the issues and services that the RBC addressed and provided to the members will continue to be addressed and provided.
  3. Who will be added to the new UBC committee?
    • UBC will include all of the utility members of the UTC.  It is being created to encourage municipal and investor-owned utilities who are providing broadband to participate, along with rural electric cooperatives.
  4. Why should utilities join the UBC?
    • The UBC is a new place for all utilities who are providing broadband or interested in doing so.  The UBC will provide advocacy, education and networking, as well as information about utility broadband.  It’s the place for everything that is related to utility broadband.
  5. What is the unique value of membership?
    • The UBC delivers real value to its members.  Whether it’s pro-utility broadband policies at the FCC, Congress and other federal and state agencies; or timely and relevant news about broadband developments; or strategic collaboration through events like our workshops that we hold around the country – the UBC is the place for utilities to go when they want to know more about broadband.
  6. What will the UBC focus on in the next 12 months?
    • The focus for the UBC will be on positioning utilities for access to federal and state funding and the removal of barriers for utility broadband.  This year the FCC will hold its reverse auction for access to funding that is available under the Connect America Fund.  The UBC will help utilities prepare to compete for access to funding during this reverse auction.  The UBC will also expand its advocacy in Congress to promote opportunities for utilities to provide broadband.  Finally, UBC will promote opportunities for utilities to combine smart grid with broadband to improve the  business case for deploying infrastructure to support these services and applications.
  7. What does the UBC advocate?
    • The UBC advocates for policies that promote utility broadband, including but not limited to access to funding to help offset the cost of deploying broadband networks.  UTC also advocates for policies that remove barriers to utility broadband, including state restrictions on municipal broadband.

The 2017 focus of the UBC is to provide legislative and regulatory advocacy and liaisons with other interested organizations. UBC will promote opportunities for broadband funding for utilities; educate and inform members through newsletters, webinars and case studies; and enable networking with utilities on ways to provide broadband in their areas.

If your utility is interested in broadband services, consider joining UBC and help lead this important infrastructure evolution. Membership in the Utilities Broadband Council is free to all UTC members. For more information or to join, please contact Membership@utc.org