Rural broadband leader brings breadth of capabilities enabling co-op to deliver multi-gigabit-speed internet to members
KANSAS CITY, Mo., Aug. 4, 2023 – El Dorado, Kansas-based Butler Electric Cooperative has selected rural fiber-optic network design and construction management leader, Conexon, to deliver comprehensive fiber broadband support services for the cooperative’s fiber-to-the-home (FTTH) network.
The $21 million project, representing the state’s first electric cooperative fiber broadband network, is partially being funded through a $10 million Kansas Capital Projects grant and will deliver FTTH internet access to approximately 4,300 rural Kansans. Service will be offered through Butler Electric’s broadband division, Velocity.
Conexon will provide network design, construction project management, engineering, marketing, and operations support, enabling Velocity to deliver high-speed internet to homes and businesses across the southern portion of Butler Electric territory from Mulvane to Leon, including some off-system locations contained within the Kansas Capital grant-eligible area. The co-op’s goal is to ultimately expand fiber broadband access to all of Butler Electric’s members.
Since 2018, Butler Electric and Velocity have offered broadband services to members using a combination of transmission media, including fixed wireless and fiber. The co-op’s leadership team and board made the decision to invest in a FTTH network for all members because it is considered the gold standard of broadband transmission – reliable, “future-proof,” and resilient. The Velocity fiber-optic network will give members access to symmetrical multi-gigabit internet capabilities.
“The team at Butler understands that rural Kansans now require reliable and affordable internet, and we have worked over the past several years to provide this critical connectivity,” Butler Electric CEO Kevin Brownlee said. “After conducting extensive research and analysis, we are confident fiber will meet the connectivity needs of our members now and into the future.”
The network will be built over Butler Electric’s existing electric distribution infrastructure using Conexon’s industry-leading architecture that enables co-ops to efficiently provide reliable and affordable internet services for members. Those who live in the current project area and are using Velocity’s fixed wireless technology will be transitioned to the FTTH network as construction reaches their area. Construction began in summer 2023, with the initial customer connections anticipated to be in fall 2023. The overall project is expected to be complete within two years.
“This partnership with Butler Electric represents our first project in Kansas,” said Randy Klindt, Conexon founding partner. “We are excited to work with Kevin and his team as they deliver the advantages of high-speed internet to the south-central portion of the state.”
Conexon works with Rural Electric Cooperatives to bring fiber to the home in rural communities. The company is comprised of professionals who have worked in electric cooperatives and the telecommunications industry, and offer decades of individual experience in business planning, building networks, marketing and selling telecommunications. Conexon offers its electric cooperative clients end-to-end broadband deployment and operations support, from a project’s conception all the way through to its long-term sustainability. It works with clients to analyze economic feasibility, secure financing, design the network, manage construction, provide operational support, optimize business performance, and determine optimal partnerships. To date, Conexon has assisted more than 275 electric cooperatives, 75 of which are deploying fiber networks, with more than 500,000 rural Americans connected to fiber to the home. The company has secured more than $2 billion in federal, state, and local grants and subsidies for its clients.
Butler Electric Cooperative supplies electric power to approximately 7,500 residential and commercial meters through 2,200 miles of transmission and distribution lines spread throughout south central Kansas. It is headquartered in El Dorado, Kansas and operates as a member-owned energy cooperative. Velocity, a broadband division of Butler Electric Cooperative, began providing high-speed communications to member-owners in 2018 and is dedicated to connecting communities by providing local, affordable, reliable high-speed internet.