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, a subsidiary of CEMC, 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.


The Situation

CEMC recognized a need for broadband services where members and others in the service area were underserved. It 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.  Once ‘fiber-to-the-home’ initiatives are announced, there’s risk that competition will enter the area and impact an expected subscriber base. It’s important that the construction phase is not postponed from poles requiring make-ready or replacements not being identified. 


The Solution

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.

Three key components Osmose provided for efficient and effective make-ready support:

  1. Fast mobilization of experienced, make-ready resources allowed Osmose to complete 1,000 poles per week within two weeks and 3,000 poles per week within three and a half weeks, which allowed construction to meet their aggressive build schedule.
  2. Digital Measurement Technology™ (DMT) provides the ability to accurately capture and deliver field measurements, providing all parties the opportunity to visualize current pole conditions from the office and save additional field visits.
  3. Experienced engineering and P.E. team quickly identified cost-effective make-ready remedies and produced construction-ready design packages to the construction team.

To learn more about Osmose fiber and make-ready services, please visit, call 770.631.6995, or email