For the last two years, Central Alabama Electric Cooperative (CAEC) has been researching the possibility of connecting high-speed, broadband internet to the communities it serves; and in its October board meeting, CAEC’s Board of Trustees approved moving forward with Phase I of the broadband project.
“We have listened to our members who so desperately need this service, received very helpful feedback from our employees, talked with experts in the field as well as the electric cooperatives already deploying internet service,” said Tom Stackhouse, CAEC President and CEO. “After nearly two years of study, we feel there is a viable opportunity to provide an internet service through a fiber optic network within our service area.”
Phase I involves creating a subsidiary, wholly owned by CAEC, and moving forward with the build-out of a 365-mile fiber optic cable system to connect the cooperative’s 24 substations and six offices, allowing them to provide even more efficient electric service to their membership and a more secure fiber network to its facilities. The first phase of installation is planned to begin no later than June 2019 and will also include additional fiber to serve beyond the co-op’s needs, possibly offering broadband service to area communities. Phase I of this project includes working toward serving those members in the 4,000 ft. area around the 365-mile core ring, which includes nearly 10,000 homes and businesses.
CAEC says that with an initial goal of a 35 percent take rate from those within this Phase I area, it can then make plans to move forward with a second phase. Once the service is available to subscribers, the initial monthly cost estimate for residential internet service will be $59.99 for up to 200 mbps up and down (no data caps).
“This will be a multi-year project, but the steps we are taking today put us closer to serving the most rural parts of our system at some point in the future, rather than not at all,” said Stackhouse. “This is an historic endeavor that has the possibility of helping to provide our communities with a service they need, much like was done 80 years ago this month when this electric cooperative was formed.”
You can find updates as well as answers to some frequently asked questions on CAEC’s Facebook page, www.caecaccess.com or on our FAQ page. You can also pre-register for service for $25 at www.caecaccess.com.