Midwest Connections lights 1,000th fiber internet customer
Published 10:25 am Monday, November 23, 2015
The Cass County COA officially became Midwest Connections’ 1000th fiber internet subscriber today. The local non-profit had fiber internet and telephone services installed at their Lowe Center facility in Cassopolis.
Bob Cochrane, CEO of the agency, said the COA relies heavily on the internet to deliver services to area seniors.
“We offer WiFi access at the Lowe Center, which is very popular with our guests,” Cochrane said. “We also assist with tax returns, and these have to be filed online. Last year we had reliability issues with our service and it was challenging to get the returns filed.”
The COA also offers a monthly movie, which is streamed over the internet, and Cochrane is eager to see how the new 50 Mbps high-speed service improves the viewing experience.
Midwest Connections, a service of Midwest Energy Cooperative, began offering fiber internet in two small areas of southwest Michigan early in 2014. The member-owned electric cooperative, based in Cassopolis, is implementing a fiber-based communication system across its electric grid to power utility solutions into the future. It is leveraging that investment to extend high-speed internet to co-op members across southwest Michigan.
“Much of rural America has been unserved and underserved with a true high-speed internet option, and in 2013 the Midwest board made a commitment to bring a reliable and affordable solution,” said Bob Hance, Midwest president/CEO. “The upgrade to our utility system provided a perfect platform to deliver that needed service.
“We’ve been working hard at the national level to open doors for funding and policy change so that non-traditional providers can access money to bring this essential service to the rural space. While we continue that battle, we are moving ahead to change the landscape here in our own little corner of the country. We were very excited to reach this milestone of 1000 installs, and thrilled to celebrate with our friends at the COA.”
Midwest Connections plans to bring fiber internet to its entire southwest Michigan service territory over a five-year construction period. As the company comes to the end of the first year, interest is growing at a
“We wish we could answer the call for everyone immediately, but essentially we’re building a system from scratch,” Hance said. “It’s a very time- and labor-intensive process, but will be well worth the wait. The response has been overwhelmingly positive.”
The company divided its southwest Michigan territory into 23 zones, based largely on electric substation service area. Construction is currently complete or underway in six zones, and the first two zone builds for 2016 have been announced. A crowdsourcing approach is being used to guide future construction plans, and Midwest members are actively working to spread the word to bring service to their area more quickly.
“We’re excited to now have fast, reliable service that will provide so many benefits to our team and our customers,” Cochrane said. “We applaud Midwest for recognizing the need and taking a stand to affect change. Our entire southwest Michigan region will be better positioned for growth and new opportunity as a result of their leadership.”
For more information about Midwest Connections, visit TeamFiber.com or call 844-493-4237.