Broadband Communities

JAN-FEB 2019

BROADBAND COMMUNITIES is the leading source of information on digital and broadband technologies for buildings and communities. Our editorial aims to accelerate the deployment of Fiber-To-The-Home and Fiber-To-The-Premises.

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RURAL BROADBAND 6 2 | B R O A D B A N D C O M M U N I T I E S | w w w. b r o a d b a n d c o m m u n i t i e s . c o m | J A N U A R Y / F E B R U A R Y 2 0 1 9 Using a digital network construction solution helped CECC deploy a fiber network 55 percent faster than expected and 12 percent under budget. C raighead Electric Cooperative Corporation (CECC), founded in 1937, distributes electric power to eight counties in rural northeastern Arkansas. Its mission is to responsibly deliver reliable, high-quality services to 30,000 members at the lowest possible price. In 2017, CECC initiated a $110 million project to modernize its grid with a communications network that will be leased to CECC's wholly owned subsidiary, empower, to provide desperately needed high- speed broadband services across the community. e project, delivered in partnership with Irby Utilities, the Mississippi-based distributor and project delivery lead, will roll out close to 5,000 miles of fiber optic cable across rural Arkansas. Render Networks sat down with Jeremiah Sloan, CECC's fiber assets manager, to talk through the project and understand how Render is helping the company achieve a 55 percent reduction in production timelines and significantly reduce construction costs. RENDER NETWORKS: anks for chatting with us, Jeremiah. When you were going through the broadband feasibility study, what were some of the drivers for this project? JEREMIAH SLOAN: Obviously, there is an economic and commercial impact that a true broadband connection can bring to a community. However, on a more personal level, the opportunities for education, medical care and entertainment for our members are the "why" behind this project. We heard stories of families having to drive their children 30 miles to access free Wi-Fi to complete homework or having to delay bedtime because they couldn't have more than one child on the internet at a time. Members needed us to create a new broadband service offering that would deliver folks who live in our service areas the same opportunities afforded to those who live in the city. We completed a study that lasted close to a year, meeting with vendors, industry consultants and utility construction firms to identify what was really important to the project. Our goals were to deliver a network as efficiently as possible at a minimum cost while maintaining the integrity of our existing system. RN: What steps did you take to bring the project forward? Talk us through the design, planning and implementation stages. JS: Our first priority was to identify a network design that covered our entire deployment plan up front. We initially thought that we would deploy a traditional project management model in terms of building the infrastructure – hire more people, spend more man-hours, basically just brute force the construction. at's traditionally what you do, right? Arkansas Co-op Builds Fiber Fast Q&A With Jeremiah Sloan, Craighead Electric Cooperative Corporation By Sam Pratt / Render Networks

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