Expanding Access to broadband
Fast and reliable broadband internet service is vital in today's world. Broadband benefits include improved health care, online learning opportunities, increased productivity for local businesses, higher housing values, and consumer savings through access to competitive online sellers.
Starting in 2017, our five-year construction work plan included installing fiber internet to all 16 of our substations for operational purposes. While development for this project began, we started looking for synergies that might be available to facilitate the expansion of fiber (broadband) internet to members' homes and businesses.
In early 2018, we met with local internet providers to explore their options for installing fiber internet service to the substations. After initial meetings, it was confirmed that local broadband provider, Cincinnati Bell (now known as "altafiber"), would be a great partner in helping to bring fiber not only to our substations, but to our members and surrounding communities as well.
In 2021, we completed our first project with altafiber to bring fiber access to over 2,000 member locations where high speed internet was not available. The project also provided fiber service to the cooperative’s substations and switching equipment. The project was a huge success, bringing greater operational flexibility to enhance reliability while improving the quality of life for many members. We have received extensive positive feedback; members whose children are now able to do their assignments from home rather than driving to school parking lots to access a Wi-Fi hot spot, members who have more career options due to the ability to work from home, and businesses and farms that now operate more efficiently due to higher internet speeds.
After the completion of our first fiber project, we knew many members still lacked access to adequate and reliable high speed internet. We continued to research and look for innovative ways to extend fiber service to all remaining members.
During our Annual Meeting on April 28, 2022, our General Manager, Tom Wolfenbarger, announced that the partnership between Butler Rural Electric Cooperative and Cincinnati Bell’s altafiber would continue. altafiber has informed the cooperative it will make the investment to extend fiber access to the remaining 2,800 cooperative members who are underserved. The expanded partnership will bring gigabit high-speed broadband fiber internet access to an additional 5,000 addresses in Butler, Preble, Hamilton, and Montgomery counties beginning in the first half of 2023. In addition to cooperative services, altafiber will build fiber to 2,200 addresses in these counties that are not served by Butler Rural Electric Cooperative.
We are committed to our mission of improving the quality of life for our members and community and look forward to continuing to build on this innovative partnership.