Back in the early days of Internet connectivity, there was talk that electrical utilities might use their electrical poles and skills at running wires into the home to provide broadband to their subscribers.
Perhaps it’s time to look at electrical utilities as a third source of wireline broadband – in addition to cablecos and telcos who have a broadband duopoly.
Illinois Electric Cooperative, Barry Electric Cooperative and Callaway Electric Cooperative have built are all fiber networks using gear from Calix, which says it is “the world leader in enabling service providers to deliver a gigabit experience to their subscribers.”
Broadband users could benefit from electrical utilities’ existing infrastructure
Calix said that what the three electrical cooperatives have done is “transforming their businesses by expanding into broadband service delivery within their respective service areas.”
It said people in all three of the coops’ footprint were “suffering from limited broadband connectivity” and were forced “to choose between fixed-wireless, dial-up and satellite broadband service options.” That’s no longer the case as residential and business subscribers in their footprint can subscribe to fiber-based telephony, pay TV and broadband for the first time.
Illinois Electric Cooperative services 11,000 electric meters in 10 central Illinois counties and will offer fiber broadband services to Winchester and Bluffs. It said the initial reaction from 2,200 locations where the service is available “”exceeded expectations” so much that it is considering expanding the fiber service to other areas in its footprint.
Sean Middleton, manager of engineering at IllinoisNet.com, said, “Much like electricity revolutionized rural America in the 1940s, we expect fiber to once again transform our communities. This technology will allow our members, both businesses and consumers, to communicate in ways they have never been able to in the past.” He said his company looks forward to “to bringing world class broadband to our fiber-enabled communities.”
Barry Electric Cooperative is embarking on a fiber-to-the-premises (FTTP) network in Barry and McDonald counties.
Starting construction in January, the fiber network will be built over five years with a goal of connecting all of Barry Electric Cooperative’s 6,700 members. The fiber network will eventually be 1,100 miles long and provide speeds up to 1 Gbps.
Callaway Electric Service is partnering with Kingdom Technologies Solutions to form Callabyte Technology, which will provide telephony, pay TV and gigabit broadband initially to members in Callaway County, Missouri. It will continue to expand its fiber network to reach unserved and underserved members who have previously only had wireless or satellite broadband options.
It said Callabyte subscribers “will enjoy a world-class symmetrical broadband experience featuring Carrier Class Wi-Fi.”
John Colvin, SVP of North America sales at Calix, said, “Electric cooperatives have proven to be fiber innovators over the last several years, bringing fiber-based broadband services into many underserved parts of the country.” Each of these cooperatives has not only demonstrated a commitment to their communities by offering the most advanced broadband services, but also a commitment to the future health of their cooperative through this exciting business transformation. These communities will find tremendous benefits in terms of economic development and consumer satisfaction.”
If these three tiny electrical coops can build all fiber networks with their sparsely settled areas and limited financial resources, surely the big electrical utilities with their densely populated areas and immense financial resources can do what the same. State regulatory commissions should start looking into …
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