Rural Mississippi is about to see whether its desire for high-speed internet service matches the cost of providing it.

Two electric cooperatives in North Mississippi have announced plans to offer the service under rules set up a few months ago by the state Legislature.

Tallahatchie Valley Electric Power Association, based in Batesville, said it will start putting out fiber-optic cable next month as part of a plan that will take four years to complete and cost $60 million. Tombigbee Electric Power Association, based in Tupelo, is spending $95 million on its internet system.

Electric cooperatives date to the Great Depression and have always run their businesses frugally. They do not have to make a profit, but they do have to distribute electricity at a reasonable cost. Over the decades, most of them have proven to be pretty good at that.

Given this history, the two North Mississippi co-ops would not have made their high-speed internet plans without solid information that their electricity customers want the new service and that the investment will eventually pay off.

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