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Accelerating our fiber development

When we first
announced our
broadband project
in February 2018,
the reaction from
our membership
was a mixture of
excitement and
disappointment. Many were excited
for a better internet option, but were
discouraged with our eight–year timeline.
So, we began looking for ways to
accelerate our performance.

The first solution was announced earlier
this year – our acquisition of Wintek
Corporation
. As we announced at our
Annual Meeting in July, Wintek’s skilled
staff has shortened our original timeline
by two years; and, we’re now nine months
into that. The second avenue we’ve taken
is to seek available grant funding.

Any grant funding we receive allows us to
contract additional fiber construction crews
and build the network faster than originally
planned. Each time we open a new build
area, it’s about a six–month process from
start to finish.

In August, we received what is hopefully
our first grant from Indiana’s Next Level
Connections program
. The $444,558
grant will serve 27 households and three
businesses in northwestern Tippecanoe
County. Tipmont REMC will contribute
$118,000 for a total project cost of
$562,000.

Tipmont also applied for funding in
southern Tippecanoe and Montgomery
counties, but another provider challenged
them. The Next Level Communication
grants stipulate that applications may be
challenged if: “existing service is available
at or above actual 10/1 speeds and
be generally available to all residential
customers in the defined area, or verify
that the construction is planned or already
underway with service becoming available
before July 2021.”

The good news is that of the $100 million
that the state has allocated for grant
funding, only $22.1 million was awarded
in the first cycle. We expect the next
round of funding to be announced in
early 2020. We’re also actively exploring
federal funding sources and will share
more information as we move through the
process.

I’m also pleased to share that the
response rate thus far is ahead of our
projections. We’re averaging about 36
installations per week and we should
connect our 500th customer at or around
October 1, 2019. Our service has been very well
received by our initial customers and we’re
building as quickly as we can to make
broadband available to the entire Tipmont
membership.

Ron Holcomb

Ron Holcomb

Ron is a 30-year veteran of the electric utility industry with extensive experience in power supply, advanced grid technologies, essential service operations, economic development and value-driven growth initiatives for combined electric and telecommunication utilities. During his career, he has led three utilities as President/CEO and provided management consulting to utilities across the country. Ron joined Tipmont as CEO in summer 2013. He holds a B.S. in Physics from Austin Peay State University and an MBA from Murray State University.

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April 2, 2024
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