At Orange County REMC’s Annual Meeting in June, the project to bring fiber internet to the cooperative’s service area was announced. Since that initial declaration, Orange County REMC has worked to iron out construction details and set up the website for Orange County Fiber. This project will take an estimated 4 years to complete and will allow people in rural communities to finally have access to high-speed internet and phone service.
Members will have their choice of four different internet speeds, starting at 50 Mbps and going up to 1000 Mbps (megabytes per second). Prices for these packages start at $54.95 a month. Each rate applies to the speed of the internet provided. This means that there are no data caps; members are purchasing the speed of the internet they want, not the amount they are allowed to use.
This project to bring high-speed internet to Orange County REMC members and the community around them will begin construction in September 2018. The estimated cost for the project is $30 million. Orange County REMC is in the process of applying for grants that could offset a substantial amount of the project, minimizing any risk to our existing electric members. Members of Orange County REMC will not have any changes in their electric bills because of this project.
The project will have four phases. Phase One involves the initial set-up of the infrastructure. Starting at the Spring Mill Substation, contractors hired by Orange County REMC will begin making a backbone ring around the entire service area, connecting all of the substations operated by the cooperative. This initial build will take up to one year to complete.
In Phase Two and all subsequent phases, the participation of people interested in becoming fiber members will be necessary. This stage determines the scheduling of fiber installation. The area serviced by Orange County REMC will be divided into at least twenty-five zones. By logging onto www.orangecountyfiber.coop, people who are interested in fiber service will take a survey. Once a zoned area has enough surveys completed, the participants will be able to sign up to be connected. There are no sign-up fees. The zones that have the most sign-ups will be prioritized for the next buildout of the project. These surveys will be available within two to three weeks.
When fiber members sign onto the website, they will be able to see the progress of their zone compared to other zones in the service area. The website will show where construction is currently taking place, the number of surveys/sign-ups per zone, and what areas have already been completed.
As this process relies heavily on people signing up, there is a procedure for members of the community to become Champions who work within their zoned communities to encourage others to take the survey and to sign up. These Champions can receive perks for their assistance. To learn more about becoming a Champion, click here.
Once a zone is scheduled for construction, the contractors will begin to install fiber lines across the already-existing electric poles. Once the pole outside a home has the fiber installed, the homeowner will be contacted by an Orange County Fiber employee to coordinate the drop from the pole to a point, which will include a box to be mounted on their house that will act as a splice point. When the fiber drop is installed by the contractor, another appointment will be made with the fiber member to connect their fiber internet and/or phone service. An Orange County Fiber employee will make the final connection inside of the house, by installing a fiber optic line from the previously installed box on the outside of the home to a router on the interior of the home. The router will allow the internet to be wireless.
People interested in becoming members of Orange County Fiber are heavily encouraged to take the survey and to speak to their neighbors about taking it as well, as that interest will greatly influence where construction will begin once Phase One is completed. If you have any questions, please visit www.orangecountyfiber.coop, call (812) 865-2229, or call toll-free at 1-888-337-5900.