It also announced an inaugural partnership with Central Georgia EMC and Southern Rivers Energy to launch and deploy a 6,890-mile, fiber-to-the-home (FTTH) network providing high-speed internet access to 80,000 middle Georgia homes and businesses spanning 18 counties. Together Conexon and the EMCs are investing over $200 million to build the network, which will enable improved electric service and increased reliability through smart grid capabilities in addition to delivering world-class internet access.
"EMC directors and staff live and work in the communities they serve," said George Weaver, President/CEO of Central Georgia EMC. "We see firsthand the disadvantages associated with a lack of internet service. That's why electric cooperatives throughout the state have been actively searching for partnerships with providers like Conexon to bring high-speed internet to rural Georgia so our members are afforded the opportunity to participate in today's digital world."
Newly formed and structured by Conexon to manage and operate FTTH networks for cooperatives and investors, Connect represents one more way Conexon is transforming rural America by meeting the needs of residents and cooperatives in the heart of their communities.
"The majority of members in our service area have no access to the quality, high-speed internet service they so desperately need. That changes today," said Southern Rivers Energy President/CEO Michael McMillan. "We know electric cooperatives play a critical role in connecting underserved areas and we are proud to partner with Conexon to help bridge the digital divide for our communities. This partnership will enable thousands of rural Georgians to finally access the same online connections as those in more urban areas, while allowing us to maintain focus on our core mission - providing reliable, affordable electricity to our members."
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 150,000 subscribers.
Conexon Connect recently 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 electric co-op territories throughout 10 states. The ambitious initiatives will deliver lightning-fast symmetrical broadband service to millions of Americans - fiber to 100% of rural homes and businesses in all the territories awarded in the RDOF auction. The company's intent is to partner with the electric cooperatives serving those awarded territories - as in the instance of the Georgia EMCs. Additional announcements will be made as partnerships are formed.
"I've found that people are more hopeful and relaxed when they have options," said Conexon Partner Jonathan Chambers. "Over the past 10 years, Randy Klindt and I have worked at giving rural electric co-ops options in planning, financing, building and operating fiber-optic networks. Connect is one more option. For those electric co-ops that wish to own but not operate a fiber network, Connect gives them that path. For those co-ops that wish to facilitate, but not own or operate a fiber network, Connect also gives them that path."
"We have spent many years working with electric cooperatives of all sizes and structures across the country, helping them successfully deploy fiber broadband to their members," Conexon Partner Randy Klindt said. "The launch of Connect takes our role to a new level - sharing in the investment and actually operating the networks for our partners. This new model offers many financial and operational benefits for cooperatives and we're excited to start on this next part of our journey. It takes us closer to delivering on our vision of seeing every rural home and business have access to world-class fiber broadband."
Connect is the newly formed internet services provider (ISP) arm of rural fiber broadband design and construction management leader Conexon. The subsidiary was formed to operate and manage cooperative and investor-owned fiber-to-the-home networks. Connect leverages Conexon's decades of co-op operations, fiber-optic design and construction, telecommunications, federal and state lobbying and customer experience management expertise to successfully launch and operate projects. The Connect approach is to work exclusively with electric cooperatives to launch and deploy high-speed fiber-optic networks - the gold standard of communications transmission - enabling them to offer world-class fiber broadband to 100% of their members.