MOUNT GILEAD — Consolidated Cooperative Chief Marketing Officer Dan Jones described Consolidated’s Fiber Broadband services, which deliver “ultra-high-speed broadband internet and data services over 100 percent fiber-optic network to residences and businesses.”
Broadband Internet access is now available for 4,000 of the 16,000 residential homes in the cooperative. About 45 to 50 percent of homes with availability actually use their broadband services.
An additional 1,000 homes will have access to the network this year. Consolidated Cooperative plans to continue building the network over the next four or five years, with all residential cooperative members having broadband available in five years.
“We are continuing to build as we can afford to,” Jones said. “It’s a matter of time and money.”
Part of the problem is getting to areas that are “underserved.” These are rural areas or “pockets” of lower population, often at the edges of the network.
Jones explained that areas in Delaware County have much more population and it is more affordable for the cooperative to extend the network onto a road with 40 residents, rather than a road with eight or less residents.
The reason no one has built fiber optic network in parts of Morrow County is that there are not enough customers per mile in an area.
Chamber member Brandon Hayes of Park National Bank asked if the infrastructure bill in Cngress can cover some of the cost and provide funding.
Jones said it is supposed to, but it remains to be seen. Much of the infrastructure funding is planned for underserved areas. Technically, according to census data, Morrow County may not qualify as an underserved area.
Jones said Ohio also has money for broadband development and the cooperative is lobbying for funds.
He noted that the Cooperative Electric model has been the same for 80 years when farmers came together and built the electric cooperative. They built it, it was inspected and approved, and then building the lines was extended.
Chamber member and Morrow County Auditor Pat Davies said that her family is without reliable broadband in their Chester Township home. She noted the cost of the fiber optic network is $45,000 per mile and wants to encourage efforts to get broadband in the county. She said that the county is actually underserved with broadband in many areas.
The development of the Cooperative’s fiber optic network started in 2009. The company began the network because it needed a fiber optic network to transfer and connect their substations.
All their substations were connected in 2009 at the cost of a $5 million investment.
In 20011 they began connecting with business as an enterprise network with Delaware and Columbus businesses. This connection to outside businesses helped pay for the original investment and took some of the burden of cost off their cooperative customers.
Jones is proud of the quality of Consolidated Cooperative’s broadband network. He said Consolidated’s goal is to have true fiber base from end-to-end.
The backbone of the network is fiber as well as the extending arms to businesses and residences. He said it is often better than other companies in resolving outage issues with quicker response times.
The Consolidated Cooperative website is: www.consolidatedcoop/fiber/.