Rural Fiber Build Out and Make-Ready at Cumberland EMC
About Cumberland EMC
Cumberland Electric Membership Corporation (CEMC) was formed in 1938 to construct, maintain, and operate a rural electric distribution system in Tennessee. The cooperative began with 610 members and 100 miles of overhead line. Today, their members exceed 100,000 served by 8,100 miles of overhead line.
Cumberland Connect was formed following the establishment of the Broadband Accessibility Act to establish high-speed internet, phone, and television service over a state-of-the-art fiber optics network.
CEMC recognized a need for broadband services where members and others in the service area were underserved. CEMC knew high-speed internet could provide a great deal of local benefits. It also presented an opportunity for expanding CEMC services and added revenue streams for the cooperative.
The first phase of the project involved new fiber optic construction, which was primarily pole attachments, following National Electrical Safety Code (NESC) standards. CEMC’s goal was to install the fiber optic cable for future smart grid technologies for their electric members, as well as providing the infrastructure for the broadband services.
Speed to market is a critical element for success. Cumberland needed to get ahead of their make-ready construction and mainline construction crews so the construction phase is not postponed from poles requiring make-ready or replacements not being identified.
The key to this undertaking was a partner that can efficiently evaluate the pole condition, verify available space exists to support the new fiber, and produce cost-effective engineering designs so construction crews are not waiting for work packages or surprised by additional effort needed at the pole before they can hang fiber. Osmose proposed and executed a solution for field verification of poles, make-ready review, deliverables, and reporting, as well as development of remedial make-ready designs to prepare the poles for fiber attachment.
Osmose designed the solution to work closely with CEMC and Conexon, the contractor CEMC hired to manage and engineer their project, to follow a structured and detailed methodology that met the project objectives.
Conexon works with Rural Electric Cooperatives to bring fiber to the home in rural communities. The company is comprised of professionals who have worked in electric cooperatives and the telecommunications industry, and offer decades of individual experience in business planning, building networks, marketing, and selling telecommunications. Conexon offers its electric cooperative clients end-to-end broadband deployment and operations support, from a project’s conception all the way through to its long-term sustainability. It works with clients to analyze economic feasibility, secure financing, design the network, manage construction, provide operational support, optimize business performance, and determine optimal partnerships.
To date, Conexon has assisted more than 160 electric cooperatives, 40+ of which are deploying fiber networks, with more than 100,000 connected fiber-to-the-home subscribers across the U.S., and has secured more than $250 million in federal and state grants for its clients.