KANSAS CITY, Mo., April 16, 2021 - Conexon Connect, the newly formed internet service provider created and managed by rural fiber-optic network design and construction management leader Conexon, has been selected by Washington EMC in Sandersville, Ga., to deliver reliable, affordable fiber broadband service for the cooperative's members.
The electric cooperative is teaming up with Connect to launch and deploy a 3,000-mile fiber-to-the-home (FTTH) network providing high-speed internet access to over 12,000 homes and businesses spanning 10 counties in central Georgia.
"Connect's footprint across Georgia continues to grow. We are working tirelessly to close the Digital Divide everywhere we can, and we are proud to partner with Washington EMC on this next step," Conexon Partner Randy Klindt said. "This is just the beginning for the thousands of rural families and businesses there who have never experienced the power and opportunity that comes with access to world-class fiber broadband."
Washington EMC's $54.5 million fiber network is expected to be completed within 3 years. The first customers will be connected in 1Q 2022.
"To say that we are excited about this journey is an understatement," said Wendy Sellers, President and CEO of Washington EMC. "For more than 80 years, our cooperative has been committed to continuously improving the rural communities we serve, but bringing broadband is something different and unlike anything our membership has experienced. The impact on daily life for Washington EMC's counties will truly be something inspiring to see."
Conexon Connect's partnership with Washington EMC follows a broadband expansion announcement in February with Central Georgia EMC and Southern Rivers Energy. Collectively Connect's Georgia projects will provide high-speed fiber internet access to approximately 85,000 central Georgia homes and businesses across more than 30 counties.
The fiber-optic network will offer Washington EMC members access to symmetrical gigabit internet capabilities - among the fastest and most robust in the nation. Additionally, it will provide reliable, clear phone service and enable the benefits of smart grid capabilities to the electrical infrastructure, including improved power outage response times, better load balancing, more efficient electricity delivery and others.
"For the past decade, the digital divide was a consequence of government policy: the different levels of internet service available in rural areas and urban areas was a decision by the federal government. Covid may have changed a lot of minds about the necessity of broadband, but government policy has not yet changed," Conexon Partner Jonathan Chambers said. "Washington EMC, like several Georgia co-ops, have decided not to wait for a change in policy. They have decided to invest in their network, invest in their community, invest in themselves. Together, we will build a world-class network and make world-class broadband service available to every member of Washington EMC. I am especially grateful to Wendy Sellers and Chair Mildred Jackson for their leadership. We're ready to get to work."
Conexon and Connect work exclusively with electric cooperatives with a commitment to serving 100% of co-op members with fiber broadband. With its clients, the company has designed more than 100,000 miles of fiber, builds more than 30,000 miles per year and has connected over 200,000 subscribers.
Conexon Connect participated as part of Conexon's Rural Electric Cooperative Consortium, a bidding entity awarded over $1.1 billion through the FCC's Rural Digital Opportunity Fund Phase I auction to deliver broadband service at the gigabit (highest service level) tier. The Connect awards encompass dozens of rural areas throughout 10 states. The company's intent is to partner with the electric cooperatives serving those awarded territories - as in the instance of the Georgia cooperatives. The ambitious initiatives will deliver lightning-fast symmetrical broadband service to an estimated 2 million Americans - fiber to 100% of rural homes and businesses in all the territories awarded in the RDOF auction.