VEC prepares pilot program for broadband

By BRIAN GRAVES Staff Writer
Posted 6/30/17

Volunteer Electric Cooperative is planning to soon implement a pilot program to determine the technical and financial viability of providing fiber broadband services.

The recently passed state …

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VEC prepares pilot program for broadband

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Volunteer Electric Cooperative is planning to soon implement a pilot program to determine the technical and financial viability of providing fiber broadband services.

The recently passed state “Broadband bill” has opened the door for VEC to take that opportunity.

According to state Rep. Dan Howell (R-Georgetown), a main sponsor of the bill in the state House along with state Rep. Kevin Brooks (R-Cleveland), the VEC board of directors has approved this program and will now apply for state grants under the new law.

The program will be limited to certain neighborhoods near the VEC Service Center in Cleveland.

VEC will partner with the Twin Lakes Telephone Cooperative (headquartered in the northern part of the VEC service area) to provide fiber optic internet, TV, and telephone service at prices competitive with other area providers such as Spectrum (Charter) and AT&T.

“Not quite coincidentally, these competing providers have started aggressively expanding their broadband footprint in the Cleveland area,” Howell said.

VEC will soon be contacting households within the pilot program area to determine who wants to get the new services.

Initial installations for the pilot program will probably occur sometime this July. The program is projected to last from 6 to 12 months, and should reveal to VEC the percentage of households in neighborhoods that purchase broadband services. From this, VEC can project if its investment in providing these services makes financial sense.

If the pilot program is successful, then VEC plans to expand to other areas of Bradley County first in offering broadband services, then to remaining parts of their service area.

VEC reported it has been receiving a high volume of email and telephone messages from customers asking when internet service will be available, so the cooperative is well aware of the demand.

VEC management also plans to provide much of the information discussed above in upcoming Powerlines (VEC’s monthly member publication) in bills.

“VEC is aware many in their group would like to have broadband services tomorrow, but this is going to be a slow and deliberate process, at least at first,” Howell said. “But, we are making progress.”

brian.graves@clevelandbanner.com

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