Broadband Communities

JUL 2016

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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20 | BROADBAND COMMUNITIES | | JULY 2016 FTTH DEPLOYMENT Valley Electric Co-Op Delivers High-Speed Broadband For most residents and businesses, broadband can't arrive soon enough – so VEA devised a wireless phase-in strategy. By Michael Hengel / Valley Electric Association T he uber-secure dispatch center at Valley Electric Association Inc. (VEA) resembles the flight deck of a starship. From U-shaped workstations, technicians scan dozens of monitors as they track every switch, relay and meter in the company's electric grid, which serves small communities and farms in rural Nevada and a sliver of California. e VEA nerve center, encased in 8-inch- thick concrete on all sides, is as state-of-the-art as any electric dispatch center on the West Coast. Managing the co-op's grid involves moving gigabits of information quickly up and down VEA's communications backbone, made up of fiber optic and wireless microwave links. Technicians can pinpoint power outages as fast as they occur. With its reliability and speed, fiber optic technology exceeds the standard for managing power grids in the United States because it can move rivers of information at light speed. at same fiber optic technology is now making it possible for VEA to transform itself from an electric utility to a broadband communications provider for its 17,000 member- owners and, eventually, all of rural Nevada. "We needed fiber optics to manage our grid efficiently and effectively," says omas H. Husted, CEO of Valley Electric. But with its virtually limitless capacity, the fiber backbone also presents an opportunity to deliver broadband to the sparsely populated, remote valleys and tiny hamlets that make up the 6,800 square miles of VEA territory, communities such as Beatty (population 1,011), Amargosa Valley (1,500), Sandy Valley (2,000) and Fish Lake Valley (1,200). VEA's home base is Pahrump, population 40,000, by far the largest community VEA serves. RESIDENTS WANT BROADBAND NOW All but Pahrump are farming communities, which otherwise had almost no expectation of experiencing the benefits high-speed broadband can bring, such as managing sophisticated irrigation software, streaming videos or movies, Skyping or playing Call of Duty or World of Warcraft. at is quickly changing, and for most of the rural residents, broadband can't get there soon enough. It's not that internet service doesn't exist in rural Nevada; it's just that it is anything but The farming communities in VEA's rural Nevada service area had almost no expectation of experiencing the benefits high-speed broadband can bring.

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