North East Mississippi Electric Power Association announces fiber-to-home network

Published 12:34 pm Friday, September 20, 2019

Customers of North East Mississippi Electric Power Association (NEMEPA) could have broadband services as early as next year.

The member-owned electric power association announced its plans to move ahead with their their fiber-to-home network this week.

The network will be made available to 100 percent of NEMEPA customers and will include a fiber-optic backbone to enable broadband services for its members. The plan was approved during the NEMEPA’s Board of Directors meeting on Sept. 17. The plan must receive final approval by the power association’s members during a vote, which will take place in December at the NEMEPA annual meeting, to proceed in accordance with the Mississippi Broadband Enabling Act.

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“Our members have clearly conveyed to us their need and desire for the advantages broadband services offer,” said Randall Abel, NEMEPA manager of engineering and operations. “Just as we brought electricity here decades ago and made lives and communities better, we’re committed to doing the same thing with high-speed internet capabilities and other broadband services.”

The Mississippi Broadband Enabling Act was voted into law by Governor Phil Bryant in January. The bill allows electric cooperatives in Mississippi the ability to provide broadband services.

Since the passing of the bill, NEMEPA has been actively researching the feasibility of providing a fiber-to-home service to all its members. Two independent studies have shown that it is financially achievable as long as projected member take rates are achieved. Results of a recent fiber survey NEMEPA conducted shows the overwhelming need and desire for broadband services by its members, a recent news release said.

Conexon, a broadband consultant company, has been contracted by NEMEPA for the design and engineering of the network. Conexon has partnered with other electric membership cooperatives in the past.