Tri-County Electric Cooperative is planning to connect customers to its broadband services in a few months, noting the importance of home Internet access due to remote learning.
(TNS) — Tri-County Electric Cooperative plans to have the first customers connected to its broadband services this year.
CEO Chad Lowder gave Calhoun County Council an update on the member-owned co-op’s $50 million effort to bring broadband services to Tri-County customers.
“What I can tell you is Tri-County has begun the construction phase of a fiber-to-home project for our coverage area. The goal is a three-year project to be able to provide fiber service to all the membership of Tri-County Electric at this time,” Lowder said.
“It starts in three phases. Right now the first phase has begun, and so as we build each phase out, we’ll notify the members when we get to that area and are able to bring fiber to them and provide that service at that time,” Lowder said.
Lowder said the co-op hopes to begin connecting customers in November. The co-op’s subsidiary TriCo Link will be responsible for the project.
Customers will receive direct fiber optics to their home, yielding speeds of up to 1 gigabit per second. The pricing is expected to be comparable or below other broadband service prices.
Lowder compared the project to the implementation of electric systems in the 1940s.
“This is building infrastructure. It’s not putting wireless antennas up, this is physical wire being hung on poles,” Lowder said.
Lowder said the co-op is aware of the urgency of the project, noting that the importance of home Internet access has increased due to remote learning.
“It’s tough right now. I know a lot of schools, a lot of kids, a lot of parents are in dire need of good, reliable, true high-speed Internet service, and they need it now. The problem is we can’t get it to them now. It’s got to be a phased-in approach,” Lowder said.
“But, I will tell you, it’s an aggressive project. Three years for this amount of infrastructure is a feat in itself, but our board is committed to that,” Lowder said.
Lowder said there has been conversation about extending the services to homes that aren’t served by Tri-County, but those plans won’t develop until the initial project is complete.
“If you’re a member of the co-op, just understand that we’re going to get to you. We’re going to get to all our membership, and a three-year timeframe is our goal. Look at our webpage and our Living magazine to get updates,” Lowder said.
Also during Calhoun County Council’s meeting:
©2020 The Times and Democrat, Distributed by Tribune Content Agency, LLC.
Looking for the latest gov tech news as it happens? Subscribe to GT newsletters.