Central Access: December 2021 Update

During the last two years, Central Access crews and Central Alabama Electric Cooperative (CAEC) employees have been working continuously along the many paved and dirt roads in our area to bring the vital service of high-speed internet to homes in CAEC’s service area. Despite a global pandemic and material shortages, we have been dedicated to the cause of providing rural broadband to our members and will end the year with more than 6,500 homes and businesses receiving service.

Our fiber construction began on August 5, 2019, with a 400-mile fiber ring to serve CAEC’s 24 substations and six offices. During 2021, this core ring was completed, giving lightning-fast broadband access to any member within its footprint.

Outside of the core ring, our service territory was divided into areas receiving grants and zones requiring activation. Progress on these areas is below:

Grant Areas

Grants for broadband from both the state and federal governments were awarded for several of our communities and were broken down into eight State Grant Areas and 11 USDA Grant Areas.

Work began in State Grant Areas this past year with home installations being scheduled in all areas with the exception of State Grant Area 2 (Statesville), which we anticipate to begin in January 2022.

Final approval from USDA for the ReConnect grant has begun, and we have adjusted our timelines accordingly (see chart). Construction for all areas is expected to begin next year with many installations also being completed as each grant area is finalized.

Zones Requiring Activation

Outside of these grant areas, deciding where to build beyond the core is determined by you, the members. By visiting www.centralaccess.com, you can view a map of our service area containing zones. Customers will be able to see which zone they fall into and the interest level for our service within that zone. This is key as customer demand helps determine our construction route and zone activation. We have had more than 65 zones activate and move to the construction schedule with nearly half receiving service since this process began.

This makes it important to let your neighbors know about Central Access and encourage them to register for service at www.centralaccess.com. To help get the word out, we can send flyers and other promotional materials that can be passed out in your community. We can also host meetings for your neighborhood to discuss Central Access. Just email us at access@coop.caec.com to request a meeting or promotional materials.

As we continue to work on this massive project, we estimate that in 2022 more than 75 percent of the overhead fiber of our system will be constructed by the year’s end with a goal of more than 11,000 customers receiving this vital service.

We appreciate your patience as we continue to tackle this project that no other provider has been willing to take on, and we truly can’t wait for you to experience the Central Access difference!