Rural TN electric co-op to launch FTTH network

Conexon has partnered with Tennessee-based Cumberland Electric Membership Cooperative (CEMC) to deploy a fiber-to-the-home (FTTH) network spanning five ...

Fiber

Conexon has partnered with Tennessee-based Cumberland Electric Membership Cooperative (CEMC) to deploy a fiber-to-the-home (FTTH) network spanning five counties to serve 100% of the co-op's members. Conexon has been selected the overall project in a construction management and fiber design role.

CEMC is partnering with Conexon for its broadband deployment and, at nearly 100,000 meters, it is one of the largest electric cooperatives to move forward with an FTTH project. Under the auspices of a newly-formed subsidiary, Cumberland Connect, the co-op launched the six-year, $197 million project in early summer 2019. Cumberland Connect's FTTH network is planned to encompass more than 5,000 miles and offer high-speed Internet, phone and TV services to all its members.

"Cumberland Electric is a progressive co-op, committed to providing services like broadband that enrich the lives and communities of all its members," said Conexon Partner Randy Klindt. "That true cooperative spirit is a philosophy we share, and we are extremely proud to have been selected as CEMC's strategic partner."

The Conexon and CEMC relationship started in 2018, when Conexon provided an initial feasibility study that validated the business potential for the network buildout. The company was subsequently selected as strategic partner.

"Conexon has a level of experience and expertise no one else did," said CEMC General Manager Chris Davis. "That's something we need. This is quite a different business for us, and the fact that Conexon brings the 'whole package' was what sold us. Our focus is on member service, and that's a focus we know Conexon shares."

Conexon will design Cumberland Connect's network using its Rural Fiber Distribution Design Platform. This customizable technology enables Conexon to design the co-op's network quickly and position it to accommodate for growth. Conexon will also serve in the construction management role, provide marketing and customer service training support, and help the co-op in securing available state and federal broadband funding.

"Electric co-ops are the center of our universe," said Conexon Partner Jonathan Chambers. "For us, that means a 'partner' role doesn't start and stop with the buildout of a network. We understand the magnitude of these projects and believe it's our mission to offer support at every step to make the network a reality - finding the right vendors and contractors, tapping into available funding, navigating the regulatory environment and helping market to members. We're looking forward to a long and positive relationship with Cumberland Electric."        

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