SVEC has announced its plan to build a fiber-optic network across the co-op’s service territory. The network will be utilized by SVEC to expand its electric smart grid/self-healing capabilities which will enhance the flow of data used to detect faults and control electrical devices throughout the grid, yielding shorter power outage response times and greater operational efficiency. It will also increase electric system security, reliability, and resiliency.
The fiber network will also be used to deliver 100% fiber to the home (FTTH) high-speed internet service to SVEC’s consumer-members through the cooperative’s newly formed subsidiary, Rapid Fiber Internet, LLC.
The project, which is expected to take up to 4 years to complete and cost up to $93 million, will span over 4,100 miles of line to deliver high-speed fiber internet services to homes, farms and businesses across Florida’s Hamilton, Lafayette, and Suwannee counties, and northern Columbia County. The goal is to ultimately extend fiber internet access to all SVEC consumer-members, if possible. Construction is expected to begin in the 2nd quarter of 2023, with the first internet customers anticipated to be connected in the 3rd quarter of 2023.
Rapid Fiber Internet will offer consumers access to symmetrical speeds (same upload and download) of up to 2 gigabits per second.
“In 1937, residents and community leaders banded together to create Suwannee Valley Electric Cooperative to bring reliable and affordable electricity to the people of the Suwannee Valley when existing utilities would not,” said SVEC CEO Mike McWaters. “Today, like many other parts of rural America, our area finds itself on the wrong side of a “digital divide,” being underserved or unserved by internet providers. In the same spirit as before, the cooperative once again endeavors to provide for a vital unmet need in our community.”
SVEC has selected rural fiber-optic network design and construction management leader, Conexon, to deliver comprehensive services including network design, construction project management, engineering, and operations support for the cooperative’s FTTH project.
“We are excited to work closely with a trusted partner like Conexon to bring high-speed internet services to our part of rural Florida,” said McWaters. “Conexon brings expertise and years of experience in fiber to the home systems for cooperatives across the country, and we are confident that together, we will achieve great results for our community, ushering in a new era of innovation and opportunity.”
“At Conexon, we believe that access to high-speed internet is an educational and economic equalizer for rural communities. We’re proud to partner with organizations like Suwannee Valley Electric Cooperative that are committed to improving the lives and communities of those they serve through world-class broadband services,” said Randy Klindt, Conexon Founding Partner. “It represents a tremendous commitment from the cooperative that will benefit consumers for generations to come.”