KANSAS CITY, Mo.,– Rural fiber-optic network design and construction management leader Conexon, is working with Mississippi-based Coast Electric Power Association to deliver a comprehensive range of broadband management services including network design, engineering, construction and project management, customer technical support and marketing support for its fiber-to-the-home (FTTH) network.
In July, Coast Electric, an 84,000-meter electric power association (EPA) serving coastal Mississippi, was awarded a CARES Act grant by the Mississippi Public Utilities Commission for a broadband pilot project to offer high-speed internet services to unserved and under-served areas. The project has begun in Pearl River County, and Coast Electric is moving quickly to build out two substations in the most rural areas. Customers will begin receiving high-speed internet and phone services in late 2020.
The pilot is a precursor to the cooperative’s expansive 6-phase project to be built out over 6-8 years. Coast Electric’s membership voted overwhelmingly in favor of delivering broadband services and fiber subsidiary CoastConnect has been formed. The network will encompass 4,000 miles of fiber to deliver gigabit-capable speed and is anticipated to cost in the range of $153 million.
“Some day history should record the actions taken by a dozen leaders in Mississippi who will have forever changed the lives and economic prospects of rural Mississippi,” said Conexon Partner Jonathan Chambers. “Ron Barnes is one of those leaders. Coast’s service territory includes areas that have adequate broadband service provided by cable companies, and areas wholly unserved where neither AT&T nor any cable company wants to invest. Ron and his board decided to adhere to best of a cooperative’s principles – to serve those in need, not just those easy to serve.”
The planned state-of-the-art fiber-optic network will offer members access to symmetrical gigabit internet capabilities – among the fastest and most robust in the nation. Additionally, it will enable enhancements and smart grid capabilities to the electrical infrastructure such as improved power outage response times, better load balancing, more efficient electricity delivery and others.
“What we’ve talked about from the beginning is who needs this service the most. The rural areas that are unserved or under-served need it the most, and we plan to start there,” Coast Electric CEO Ron Barnes said. “The funding we’ve secured allows us a fast track into broadband so that we can move forward. We couldn’t have done this without Conexon. Everything we have asked for, they have delivered.”
“The impact that world-class broadband will have on these communities will be lasting and life-changing,” Conexon Partner Randy Klindt added. “We applaud Ron and his team for their commitment to the unserved and underserved members in their area and look forward to being a part of Coast Electric’s journey, from this initial pilot project through full network completion.”