Suwannee Valley Electric Cooperative to Build Fiber-Optic Network, Offer Fiber-to-the-Home High-Speed Internet


Contact: Jon Little, Director of Communications
(386) 330-5662 (office), (970) 413-4112 (mobile)

Suwannee Valley Electric Cooperative to Build Fiber-Optic Network, Offer Fiber-to-the-Home High-Speed Internet LIVE OAK, Fla., July 26, 2022 – Suwannee Valley Electric Cooperative (SVEC) has announced its plan to build a fiber-optic network across the co-op’s service territory. The network will be utilized by SVEC to expand its electric smart grid/self-healing capabilities which will enhance the flow of data used to detect faults and control electrical devices throughout the grid, yielding shorter power outage response times and greater operational efficiency. It will also increase electric system security, reliability, and resiliency.

The fiber network will also be used to deliver 100% fiber to the home (FTTH) high-speed internet service to SVEC’s consumer-members through the cooperative’s newly formed subsidiary, Rapid Fiber Internet, LLC.

The project, which is expected to take up to 4 years to complete and cost up to $93 million, will span over 4,100 miles of line to deliver high-speed fiber internet services to homes, farms and businesses across Florida’s Hamilton, Lafayette, and Suwannee counties, and northern Columbia County. The goal is to ultimately extend fiber internet access to all SVEC consumer-members, if possible. Construction is expected to begin in the 2nd quarter of 2023, with the first internet customers anticipated to be connected in the 3rd quarter of 2023.

Rapid Fiber Internet will offer consumers access to symmetrical speeds (same upload and download) of up to 2 gigabits per second.

“In 1937, residents and community leaders banded together to create Suwannee Valley Electric Cooperative to bring reliable and affordable electricity to the people of the Suwannee Valley when existing utilities would not,” said SVEC CEO Mike McWaters. “Today, like many other parts of rural America, our area finds itself on the wrong side of a “digital divide,” being underserved or unserved by internet providers. In the same spirit as before, the cooperative once again endeavors to provide for a vital unmet need in our community.”

SVEC has selected rural fiber-optic network design and construction management leader, Conexon, to deliver comprehensive services including network design, construction project management, engineering, and operations support for the cooperative’s FTTH project.

“We are excited to work closely with a trusted partner like Conexon to bring high-speed internet services to our part of rural Florida,” said McWaters. “Conexon brings expertise and years of experience in fiber to the home systems for cooperatives across the country, and we are confident that together, we will achieve great results for our community, ushering in a new era of innovation and opportunity.”

“At Conexon, we believe that access to high-speed internet is an educational and economic equalizer for rural communities. We’re proud to partner with organizations like Suwannee Valley Electric Cooperative that are committed to improving the lives and communities of those they serve through world-class broadband services,” said Randy Klindt, Conexon Founding Partner. “It represents a tremendous commitment from the cooperative that will benefit consumers for generations to come.”

Suwannee Valley Electric Cooperative
Suwannee Valley Electric Cooperative (SVEC) was founded in 1937 in northern Florida. After planning and construction, this member-owned cooperative energized its first electric line in 1940. Since the beginning, SVEC has worked tirelessly to bring safe, affordable, and reliable electricity to its rural communities. Today, SVEC maintains over 4,100 miles of power lines and serves more than 28,000 consumers in Florida’s Columbia, Hamilton, Lafayette and Suwannee counties. Visit the Suwannee Valley Electric Cooperative website.

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 275 electric cooperatives, 60 of which are deploying fiber networks, with more than 500,000 rural Americans connected to fiber to the home. The company has secured nearly $2 billion in federal, state and local grants and subsidies for its clients. Visit the Conexon website.