First co-op announces plan for broadband network

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A North Mississippi electric co-op has become the first to announce that they will offer broadband internet service to its customers after the legislature passed the ‘Mississippi Broadband Enabling Act’ in January.

The Tombigbee Electric Power Association announced that they will move forward with a “fiber-to-the-home network” that will serve 100% of its members. The co-op made the announcement in a press release, which states that the deployment of broadband will cost approximately $95 million. Before deciding to move forward with broadband, TEPA conducted four independent studies.

TEPA will work broadband consultant, Conexon, for the design and construction of the network. No timeline was provided for the completion of the project, but the design process will begin immediately.

The co-op serves 43,950 members across 8 counties. Most of TEPA’s customers are in Lee and Itawamba Counties.

The Northeast Mississippi Electric Power Association has also recently completed two ‘fiber-to-the-home’ feasibility studies as they explore the possibility of building out a network of their own.

Until January, Mississippi was the only state that did not allow co-ops to offer internet services. The bill gives each co-op the ability to offer broadband but does not mandate it.

Co-op’s cannot force any person to purchase broadband services, and the purchase of broadband services cannot be a condition to continuing to receive electric power service.

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