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20 | BROADBAND COMMUNITIES | www.broadbandcommunities.com | MAY/JUNE 2015 FTTH DEPLOYMENT Kit Carson Electric Cooperative Deploys FTTH for Economic Development With help from a broadband stimulus grant, an electric co-op in northern New Mexico is lighting a fber network that will fulfll its members' long-held dreams. By Masha Zager / Broadband Communities F or Kit Carson Electric Cooperative (KCEC), building an FTTH network was just one more step along a nearly 80-year path of serving its members. Founded in 1937 to deliver electricity to unserved areas, KCEC is now the second-largest electric co-op in New Mexico. It serves nearly 30,000 members in Taos, Colfax and Rio Arriba counties. Tough electricity distribution was – and still is – its primary business, the cooperative considered diversifying as early as 1999, when deregulation of the energy markets got underway. Feedback from members at that time indicated that the region's top needs were for economic development, propane and Internet service, and the cooperative set to work on all of them. In 2000, KCEC launched a fxed wireless Internet business, but because of the mountains and difcult terrain, it soon became clear that wireless couldn't serve all the members adequately. Soon afterward, embarking on its economic development mission, the cooperative built a call center, recruited three tenants for it, created 200 new jobs – and discovered fber optics. Te call center needed good connectivity, and KCEC became a competitive local exchange company so it could run fber to the call center. It also began using fber to build a smart grid. Over time, the fber network expanded. School districts hung bundles of fber on KCEC's poles and traded fbers for pole access. Several more businesses connected to the network. Te smart grid began to grow. "Every time, it stretched our comfort level, and that made us a better company," says Luis Reyes, KCEC's CEO. THE LEAP TO FTTH By the time the broadband stimulus program was announced, KCEC was ready for an even greater stretch. Along with the state of New Mexico and several other organizations, it applied for a $200 million grant to build a smart grid across New Mexico. When that application was rejected, the cooperative scaled back the proposal to include only fber to the home in its own territory. After canvassing its members and meeting with representatives of universities, schools, municipalities, tribal governments, consumer groups and others, KCEC determined that it had overwhelming support for the FTTH project. It submitted the proposal in the second round of the stimulus project and this time was awarded $64 million in Rural Utilities Service grants and loans. Te cooperative put together an all- star team that included Fujitsu Network