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Central Access preparing for second phase

By JOYANNA LOVE/ Managing Editor

Central Alabama Electric Cooperative’s subsidiary Central Access has reached the target percentage for customers in phase one of the initial build out of its fiber system.

CAEC established Central Access to bring fiber-to-the-premise, high speed internet to customers it could reach as a part of establishing its own fiber network.

The network was initially planned to connect all of CAEC’s offices and substations. Construction on this portion of the project began Aug. 5, 2019.

“An important part of the business model was to reach a 35 percent take rate from those residents within the initial construction path, allowing service to expand beyond the initial construction core,” according to a CAEC press release. “Central Access has announced that it will meet that goal and will begin fiber construction past its initial 400-mile core ring.”

This expansion will give more Central Alabama residents, including many in Chilton County, a high-speed Internet option.

“The process of building a fiber system from scratch is a time-consuming endeavor,” said Tom Stackhouse, CAEC President and CEO, in the release. “Building a 400-mile core and an additional 600 miles of distribution fiber lines is a project many have refused to take on, but our progress is already making a difference in the lives of rural residents and we look forward to expanding and impacting the lives of many others in central Alabama.”

Central Access recently received eight grants from the Alabama Broadband Accessibility Fund to help fund this project. According to the release, “Grant areas have several requirements that have to be met before funds are disbursed and permission is given to begin construction. Those within the grant areas will receive a notification by mail of the availability of service in their area with more details regarding the timeline for construction in their area to follow.”

A map is being developed to show which area Central Access could potentially build into and the interest level that has been expressed by those living there. The higher the interest in an area, the more likely it is that Central Access will expand fiber-to-the-premises to that area.

“Central Access urges those interested in the service to let their neighbors know about it and encourage them to register for service at www.centralaccess.com. To help get the word out, residents can request fliers and other promotional materials to distribute in the community. Additionally, representatives from the co-op can also host virtual meetings for neighborhoods to discuss what they have to offer. Interested parties can email access@coop.caec.com to request a meeting or promotional materials.”

According to Stackhouse, Central Access has already connected 2,000 customers.

“Our goal is to provide high-speed internet to all of our members. We’ll keep working to make that a reality,” Stackhouse said.