TVEPA CREATES NEW BROADBAND COMPANY, TO OFFER HIGH-SPEED INTERNET

By SPECIAL TO THE SUN-SENTINEL,

Special to The Sun-Sentinel

BATESVILLE (Aug. 9) –Tallahatchie Valley Electric Power Association is the first Mississippi electric cooperative to announce creation of a separate, not-for-profit company to offer high-speed internet service across its nine-county service area.

Tallahatchie Valley Internet Services, with the trade name TVI-Fiber, has been formed to expand and improve access to high speed internet service by offering fiber to the home and gigabit speeds.

“Bringing readily accessible, reliable high-speed internet to rural areas is the 21st Century equivalent to rural electrification,” TVEPA Board Chairman Will Hays said.

Immediately after the Legislature passed the Mississippi Broadband Enabling Act making it legal for electric power associations to provide broadband services, TVEPA went to work evaluating area needs and determining the feasibility to offer fiber-based internet service.

“The overwhelming response from our members confirmed our studies and we are moving forward," added hays.

“Access to high-speed internet is vital for consumers, education, entertainment and other services in our increasingly digital world,” said Brad Robison, TVEPA chief executive officer. “High-speed internet is imperative for advancement of business, economic development and tele-medicine. We will offer affordable, reliable broadband with lightning fast speeds and unlimited possibilities for homes and businesses to the areas served by TVEPA.”

Huntsville, Alabama-based FiberRise, which has launched rural broadband services for cooperatives in Alabama, Tennessee and other states, is leading the design, engineering and build-out for TVI-Fiber. More than 380 miles of fiber optic cable have been ordered, as Phase One of the build-out is set to begin mid-September. TVEPA will own and maintain the fiber infrastructure as part of TVEPA’s smart grid capabilities. TVI-Fiber will be the broadband service provider, offering service packages and equipment along with complete installation and 24/7 customer service.

TVI-Fiber is developing a website in order to manage online enrollment and service installation appointments as the fiber infrastructure is deployed. As soon as the website is ready and available an announcement will be made allowing interested consumers the opportunity to sign up.

According to Robison, the system build-out is expected to take approximately 48 months. Keeping with the enabling legislation, TVEPA members will not be assessed any fee to fund the deployment of internet service, nor will they be obligated to order service from TVI-Fiber.

“There is great interest among TVEPA members for high speed internet,” said Robison. “TVI-Fiber will offer high-speed service in places overlooked by the for-profit service providers, as was the case with rural electrification. As a community based, local business, TVI-Fiber will offer superior service and competitive pricing.

“We’re already seeing competitors lower their introductory pricing and working to lock in consumers to long-term contracts," Robison continued.  "TVI-Fiber’s service packages, products and competitive pricing details will be coming soon. We are excited to bring this much needed service to our communities and to continue our commitment to serve.”

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