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North East Mississippi Electric Power Association members say yes to fiber internet

Members of the North East Mississippi Electric Power Association voted in favor of allowing the electric company to operate under the Mississippi Broadband Enabling Act.

The overwhelming vote to change NEMEPA’s Articles of Incorporation took place during their annual members meeting on Saturday. The fiber broadband internet will be provided through a partnership with Conexon.

“This is a great opportunity for the people in this region,” said NEMEPA general manger and chief executive officer Keith Hayward. “We are excited and look forward to serving our members with this technology. It will mean great things for this area.”

The results of Saturday’s vote were anticipated by NEMEPA, and they have already begun the engineering and design phase of the project to install the fiber network. The network will be available to 100 percent of NEMEPA’s customers.

In January, Mississippi governor Phil Bryant passed the Mississippi Broadband Enabling Act, which allows electric cooperatives in Mississippi the ability to provide broadband services. Since the bill passed, NEMEPA conducted two independent studies, which showed broadband services would be 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.

Conexon, which specializes in constructing fiber optic networks, will help manage the project. They will work alongside NEMEPA to ensure the project stays on schedule and within budget. North East Fiber, LLC, has also been formed by NEMEPA and their fiber-to-home product will be called NE SPARC (North East Serving People Across Rural Communities).

Three products will be offered by NE SPARC; Ignite, which will allow 100 megabits per second (Mbps); Blaze (1 Gigabyte per second) and a phone service. Customers can visit NESPARC.com to check their address for availability and to get updates on when the fiber network will be available in their area.