Cable Disconnect

Last month, Arkansas’s electric cooperatives faced an unexpected attack by cable TV concerns. Under the guise of promoting broadband, the cable giants wanted huge reductions in the pole attachment rates charged by the state’s rural electric cooperatives. Cable’s claim was that pole attachment rates were limiting broadband expansion into rural areas.

Sound familiar?

To address that concern, the cooperatives’ first overture was, “We will work with you, but will you guarantee that you will provide broadband services to all of our rural members?” Not surprisingly, the answer was no.

Therein lies the rub: There is quite a disconnect between what the cable companies profess to want and what they really want.

This was not an effort to provide broadband for rural Arkansans; it was a brazen attempt to generate more profits for cable company shareholders.

One of the large cable giants has the following sentence in its corporate Code of Conduct:  “Since no code or policy can spell out the appropriate behavior for every situation, you should talk with your supervisor – or refer to any of the resources listed throughout the Code – when you have questions or concern.”

What? That’s not an operational policy that explains billing or installation issues. It’s a code of conduct — how you treat the customer.

Perhaps cable officials meant well when they drafted that statement. Somewhere along the way, however, an easy, quick answer was lost. Perhaps the company should go with something as simple as … tell the truth.

We operate a little differently. In the lobby of NRECA’s main office stands a statue of a lineman. The lineman symbolizes everything for which we stand: keeping the lights on, 24 hours a day, seven days a week.

A phrase used to describe the U. S. Post Office reads, “neither snow nor rain nor heat nor gloom of night…” Fact is, that signifies our linemen’s dedication to duty. It is the reality that they embody each day. Among the first responders in any emergency situation, you will always—always—find electric co-op lineman. Their dedication to duty and commitment to their communities are unquestioned.

Our electric cooperatives are driven by commitment and principle: to improve the quality of your life. Not profit, not fame, not trying to determine the “appropriate behavior.”

It’s about telling the truth and doing the right things, something that is intrinsic in the cooperative principles by which we operate.

This month, we celebrate our linemen, men and women who don’t need a code of conduct to know how to do the right thing.

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