Feb
29
2012

Two Electric Coops Select Calix for Fiber Broadband Builds

PETALUMA, CA — Two Missouri electric cooperatives, Co-Mo Electric Cooperative of Tipton, Mo., and United Electric Cooperative of Maryville, Mo., have selected the Calix Unified Access portfolio to bring FTTP to more than 27,000 homes and businesses. Like a number of other electric cooperatives, Co-Mo and United are expanding their traditional business models to include advanced broadband services throughout their communities.

Co-Mo and United are both deploying the Calix E7-2 Ethernet Service Access Platform (ESAP) with GPON technology in the central office and using the 700GE family of optical network terminals (ONTs) at customer premises. Both companies will offer high-speed data and voice services over their fiber access networks, and, because both are committed to furthering economic development in their respective communities, they also plan to consider telemedicine and distance learning applications in the future for local schools and health care institutions.

Calix, which has helped hundreds of telephone companies deploy fiber to the home, is now working with several electric cooperatives, including not only Co-Mo and United but also others such as Arrowhead Electric in Minnesota, as they bring broadband services and new opportunities for economic development to their communities.

Because their customers have been overlooked by traditional broadband service providers in their regions, these companies have taken matters into their own hands to leverage their existing networks and operational infrastructures to become advanced broadband service providers. Their broadband projects are natural extensions of the grid modernization initiatives they already have under way. In addition, their existing utility poles and experienced outside-plant staff can be readily leveraged to deliver broadband services over fiber. Ultimately, grid modernization and communications services efforts are extremely complementary.

Economic and Community Development Driven By Fiber Networks
After determining that satellite and wireless broadband services did not meet their members’ needs and after being turned down for broadband stimulus funding, Co-Mo embarked on a self-funded fiber access project in 2011. The cooperative began by reaching out to its members, going door to door to sign up early registrants for its Co-Mo Connect service.

Within a few months, Co-Mo exceeded expectations for early registrants, and, within the first year of marketing the service, the company signed up 30 percent of all eligible member premises in two pilot areas. Now near completion of the two pilot network builds, Co-Mo hopes to continue to expand across its serving area throughout 2012, offering residential broadband packages with speeds up to 35 Mbps and more advanced packages for business customers.

“In rural Missouri, we must find every opportunity to keep our community thriving and competitive with urban areas,” says Ken Johnson, general manager and CEO at Co-Mo. “With this fiber access network, every member of our cooperative will benefit, from recent graduates who can now work from home, to businesses that can take advantage of tailored, high-bandwidth packages, and schools and hospitals that can collaborate with other institutions. Calix has been a true partner in this build to date, with us every step of the way as we revitalize this rural community, much the way we did by turning on the lights with electricity in the 1940s.”

Just north of Co-Mo, United Electric is now deploying a fiber network funded by a $21.2 million broadband stimulus award. With more than 1,350 miles of fiber to deploy, United plans to bring advanced broadband services to more than 4,200 residences and 58 anchor institutions. Along with high-speed data and voice services, United will also offer video packages. With an infrastructure capable of offering broadband services up to 1 Gbps, United can support additional smart home and video based services in the future.

“At United, we serve a very large area with a low subscriber density, but within our member base we found a huge need for true broadband services,” says Gene Dorrel, general manager at United. “Prior to our fiber project, 79 percent of our members had computers, but lacked adequate broadband. With our commitment to our members and history of being dedicated to our community, it was clear that United could be a vehicle for change. By partnering with Calix and their great track record in rural markets, we are confident we will improve the lives and businesses of our members.”

See Calix videos about Co-Mo and United here.

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