Conexon, the nation's leader in designing and managing the construction of rural fiber-optic networks, and South Carolina-based Tri-County Electric Cooperative are working together to build a fiber-to-the-home network to serve the nearly 15,000 homes and businesses in co-op territory.
Tri-County Electric's Board of Trustees and Management have selected Conexon to provide a complete turnkey solution of broadband services including project and construction management, engineering and design, and call center and customer support. Conexon subsidiary, Conexon Connect, will also serve as Tri-County Electric's phone provider of record.
"Conexon had the experience and expertise we were looking for," Tri-County Electric Cooperative CEO Chad Lowder said. "Randy and Jonathan and the team work exclusively with cooperatives, so they understand rural territories, the co-op's commitment to service and the unique challenges we face. Based on the recommendations from other co-ops, and Conexon's end-to-end capabilities, we felt the company was the best solution for us. We're excited to get started on the project."
Tri-County Electric's three-year deployment, with an estimated $50 million investment, will encompass 1,700 miles of fiber and the parts of six counties in central South Carolina served by the co-op. Fiber construction is expected to begin mid-2020 with the first members connected by fall 2020. The broadband network will deliver symmetrical gigabit internet capabilities – among the fastest and most robust in the nation – along with high-quality phone services.
"I have been impressed by the quality of the Tri-County Board and Management Team," Conexon Partner Jonathan Chambers said. "The COVID-19 crisis accentuates a point rural communites have known for some time. For kids to have the same educational opportunity, for people to work from home, for young adults to find work without moving away, for the elderly to receive quality health care, rural America needs fiber broadband service. So, let's get started."
The Tri-County fiber network will also bolster the co-op's electrical infrastructure with smart grid capabilities that will deliver benefits such as improved power outage response times, better load balancing, and more efficient electricity delivery.
"The Tri-County Electric team has a great understanding of what it will take to bring broadband to its co-op communities, and is committed to a roadmap that both delivers benefits to members and strengthens the underlying infrastructure," Conexon Partner Randy Klindt said. "We look forward to a successful deployment and helping them fulfill their mission of service in an entirely new way."
Conexon works with Rural Electric Cooperatives to bring fiber to the home in rural communities. The company is comprised of professionals who have worked in electric cooperatives and the telecommunications industry, and offer decades of individual experience in business planning, building networks, marketing and selling telecommunications. Conexon offers its electric cooperative clients end-to-end broadband deployment and operations support, from a project's conception all the way through to its long-term sustainability. It works with clients to analyze economic feasibility, secure financing, design the network, manage construction, provide operational support, optimize business performance and determine optimal partnerships. To date, Conexon has assisted more than 160 electric cooperatives, 40 of which are deploying fiber networks, with nearly 100,000 connected fiber-to-the-home subscribers across the U.S., and has secured more than $200 million in federal and state grants for its clients.