As Mississippi ranks near the bottom of the list when it comes to broadband access, four electric co-op boards are on a mission to change that, per America’s Electric Cooperatives. Since the Mississippi Broadband Enabling Act took effect earlier this year, electric co-ops can now pursue retail broadband through an affiliate separate from their service as energy providers, a service they were restricted from providing before the recent law was passed.
The four co-ops, Tallahatchie Valley EPA, Prentiss County EPA, Tombigbee Electric Power Association, and Alcorn County EPA, have commissioned multiple feasibility studies for a fiber-to-the-home service. America’s Electric Cooperatives offered insight into the plans of three of the four cooperatives.
TVEPA formed the Tallahatchie Valley Internet Services (TVI-Fiber) to ensure compliance with state law. TVI-Fiber will begin a $60 million, three-phase, 48-month buildout beginning in mid-September.
“We are excited for the opportunity to be able to provide the services that our members so greatly desire,” said TVEPA GM/CEO Brad Robison. “We are a very rural system serving parts of the Mississippi Delta, and grant monies would be a tremendous help to the project.”
Prentiss Connect plans to begin work on its 1,050-mile smart grid in October, providing reach to 14,000 members upon completion, estimated at two years from the start date. According to Ronny Rowland, co-op general manager, the fiber buildout will cost $23.5 million.
Per Tombigbee EPA, its $95 million broadband project will roll out in four phases and cover the entire territory for its 43,350 members. “High-speed data capabilities are no longer a luxury but a necessity for the economic growth and continued viability of rural living,” said TEPA GM Bill Long. “With the recent changes in Mississippi legislation allowing co-ops to provide broadband, we view it as our role and responsibility to serve this need.”
September 6, 2019