Mohave Electric Cooperative (MEC) is another step closer to making fiber-optic broadband service a reality for its members with approval by the Arizona Corporation Commission of a financing application in a unanimous 5-0 vote of the Commissioners.
In a first-of-its-kind endeavor for an electric cooperative in Arizona, MEC, in partnership with service provider TWN Communications, announced in October a goal to bring fiber-optic based internet access to members in all of its service territory.
In January MEC was awarded an $805,500 grant from the Arizona Commerce Authority for Phase One of the Fiber Project.
“This is an ambitious project that includes many layers,” said Tyler Carlson, CEO of MEC.
TWN will begin construction of the network infrastructure soon and anticipates service will be available in phases with the entire network scheduled to be completed within five years of the start of construction.
“While we’ve successfully cleared several hurdles, many hurdles remain, but it’s important to remain patient. There is still a lot of work to be done in the development of the infrastructure in addition to clearing the other hurdles,” said Carlson.
Several pre-construction steps are now underway including system design, environmental review, and permit requirements. Construction will also be dependent on material supply and delivery that is being impacted by recent manufacturing and business closures.
“Having access to reliable, cost-effective, high-speed fiber service is something members desire throughout our service territory,” Carlson said. “The COVID-19 situation has strengthened our resolve to make this happen and brought to light the great need for our members to be able to connect to online services for education, medical services, business, and economic development.”
In early 2019 MEC conducted a survey to explore member expectations and needs regarding internet use. The survey resulted in 95 percent of members saying they would use the service.
MEC followed the survey with a feasibility study and, in September 2019, the MEC board of directors voted to proceed.
TWN will be providing the actual service. Carlson said this is a stand-alone service and electric rates will not be affected.
Colin Wood, CEO for TWN Communications said, “This is an exciting time for Arizona electric cooperatives. We are proud to work alongside an organization like Mohave Electric to help bridge the rural digital divide, and we are committed and ready to start construction of this project to bring broadband service to MEC members.”
Members wishing to pre-register should visit Mohave Electric. Pre-registration is not a commitment or contract but is important to the project construction by helping TWN and MEC identify the areas of member interest for broadband.