For the past seven months, SEMO Electric Cooperative has been working on phase one of construction of a new fiber optic network in southeast Missouri. They recently announced that subscribers are hooked up and taking advantage of Fiber-to-the-Home in rural Scott County and in the towns of Miner, Advance, and Bloomfield.
A Necessity In Society
This is the first of five phases of a $40 million project that the cooperative decided to pursue in 2017. The co-op board saw that providing high-quality Internet access to was filling a demand that incumbents are not meeting, locals want, and assists the community. Homeowners, schools, and local businesses need broadband. Loyd Rice, the administrator of engineering services for SEMO Electric:
“Now we get to build out something that has become a necessity in society. The ability to have a broadband service that is effective now changes the whole quality of life for those folks. It’s definitely a necessity at schools. You can work from home.”
Like other electric cooperatives that have found value in offering broadband service, SEMO has certain advantages in both deployment and operations. Rice noted that they're finding that cost to construct are lower than expected because they’re able to build along existing infrastructure. “And so six seven months into now, we’re probably half to three-fourths the way through our first phase of the actual build,” he told CBS 12 KFVS.
Keeping Locals Updated
As they deploy GoSEMO Fiber, the cooperative provides video updates on its YouTube Channel, the GoSEMO website, and on FaceBook and Twitter. In addition to messages that provide updates on the progress of deployment, staff provides information on equipment. The videos are short and to the point. Here’s the latest, posted on March 11th, 2018:
There’s no installation fee and subscribers can choose from two symmetrical tiers:
100 Megabits per second (Mbps) for $50 per month
1 Gigabit per second (1,000 Mbps) for $80 per month
The cooperative will also be adding telephone and video services in the future.
Serving Rural Communities
SEMO started like many other rural electric cooperatives - with a group of farmers and business owners who wanted electricity in an area where private power companies and municipal electric utilities did not serve. In 1938, they obtained funding from the Rural Electrification Administration (REA) to build electric infrastructure. Since then, the service area has expanded and SEMO serves premises in six counties in southeastern Missouri. SEMO owns about 2,600 miles of electrical service line and their customer base is just under 16,000 members.
For more on how rural electric cooperatives are bringing broadband to rural America, check out our report Cooperatives Fiberize Rural America: A Trusted Model For The Internet Era.