Register for access to a recording of our CEO-led Conexon Broadband Workshop

Learn from fellow CEOs about their real experiences in the deployment of FTTH networks from initial planning and decision on funding, construction, connecting subscribers, and everything in between. Series 1: CEO-led Fiber Broadband Workshop/Webinar

Recorded at

Conexon Office, Kansas City on May 20, 2019

ecoLINK
Case Study: East Central Electric Cooperative
East Central Electric continues the trend to build a fiber-to-the-home network to serve 100% of its members
Central Virginia Electric Cooperative
Case Study: Central Virginia Electric Cooperative
CVEC listens to the echoing sentiment from its members and moves forward to build a FTTH Network
OEC Fiber
Case Study: Oklahoma Electric Cooperative
OEC builds a fiber-to-the-home network to serve 100% of its members

Our Mission

In the 1930s, the country embarked on a great endeavor to bring electricity to rural America. Rural Electric Cooperatives have been serving our communities for eighty years. Our clients are embarking on the next great endeavor, bringing fiber optic internet access to rural America. The difference between the 1930s and now is not the cost to build networks, nor the technical know-how — it is the will to do so. We believe in rural America. We believe rural Americans deserve the same opportunities as the rest of the country. We believe Americans can still build things. Join the movement to Connect Rural America to true broadband access to the internet.

Electric co-ops are often dependent on third-party call centers

Randy Klindt

Electric co-ops are often dependent on third-party call centers that don’t understand the nature of their business, and often can’t go beyond answering a call. We have a staff of veteran engineers who have built fiber networks and call centers for over a decade and possess the specific expertise for efficient resolution, while maintaining the highest level of customer satisfaction.

Randy Klindt
Conexon Partner

We listened to our electric cooperative clients

Andy Burger

We listened to our electric cooperative clients and realized the need for a call center capable of handling calls quickly the first time. Traditional call centers are set up to support multiple technologies, which limits their expertise and ability to truly understand the specific nuances of fiber. We work only with electric cooperatives building fiber-to-the-home, which allows us to understand exactly what you need.

Andy Burger
Conexon-VP of Operations

We’re doing things at a very fast pace and Conexon has been our boots on the street

We’re doing things at a very fast pace and Conexon has been our boots on the street, managing our network, construction and overseeing the many moving parts on a daily basis. They have been involved in preparing RFPs, coordinating our contractor and vendor selection and they’ve been out in the field with our contractors as we’re building out, verifying the completion and quality of work.

Tim Smith
General Manager, East Central Oklahoma Electric Cooperative

Having that revenue guaranteed for the first 10 years gives us the breathing room to work through growing pains.

Gary Wood

“The biggest benefit is that it offsets the losses in first few years when otherwise, we would be building significant debt to the co-op.”
CAF II Award — $28.6M

Gary Wood President & CEO, Central Virginia Electric Cooperative

It started off very unwillingly…

I was very skeptical, at times outspokenly so, that broadband was not something electric cooperatives should be doing. Obviously, those thoughts and comments look foolish today as we deploy fiber-to-the-home ourselves. My opinion changed as I became more educated and several main assumptions about cooperative broadband projects proved inaccurate. It also began when Jonathan Chambers with Conexon presented to Oklahoma statewide in February 2017. Not only did he dispel some myths regarding the main challenges in getting into broadband, but it was also clear that Conexon could provide the expertise needed to make it happen. Fast forward a few years with our launch and Conexon has been with us at every step. Without Conexon, we would not have a fiber-to-the-home project

Patrick Grace
CEO, Oklahoma Electric Cooperative

Randy knows electric co-ops and he knows broadband inside and out.

Tim Davis

“Being able to pull from that experience is great. The way he laid out the plan made perfect sense, and with the research and thought behind it, it was a direction we felt we could go in.”

“We shared the feasibility plan with our Board,” says Tim Davis, “and the rest is history. I have a lot of respect for Jonathan Chambers. He’s an ethical guy and we put a lot of stock in what he said.”

Tim Davis
CEO, Pemiscot-Dunklin Electric Cooperative

Within 30 minutes of meeting Randy…

Goodspeed

“Trust,” he said. “Within 30 minutes of meeting Randy, I knew Conexon was the right company. They brought experience and knowledge, but also respect, compassion, and understanding of exactly what we were facing. With Randy and the team, I knew I was sitting across the table from someone who had actually been where I was. I couldn’t have found a better partner.”

David Goodspeed
President, OEC Fiber

We’re a small co-op with limited resources.

Jack Davis

Our Conexon project manager takes a huge load off of us, doing everything from working with contractors and vendors, to doing ride-outs, pulling permits and a lot more. We always have someone there when we have questions and we can get answers right away. I don’t know how we could have done this without Conexon.

Jack Davis
Chief Technology Officer, Pemiscot-Dunklin Electric Cooperative

Conexon basically auto-designed our entire system in 3 days.

Goodspeed

This allows us to now very quickly deploy wherever we want because we’ve eliminated that step. The benefits of the auto-design – saving us time, energy and effort – makes us go so much faster now.”

David Goodspeed
President, OEC Fiber

We were still trying to figure out the best way…

Gary Wood

… to get to where we wanted to go,” Wood recalls, “when at a CEO conference, Jonathan Chambers gave a talk about Conexon, its co-op experience and its approach to fiber. We decided to take one more look at whether a fiber buildout was feasible on our system.”

That “one more look” led to a feasibility study delivered by Conexon that ultimately brought CVEC’s broadband efforts full circle – the decision to serve members with its own high-speed data network.

Gary Wood
President & CEO, Central Virginia Electric Cooperative

If you’re getting questions about broadband from members or your board…

“Get a study,” he advises other cooperative leaders. “Broadband isn’t for every company, but you can’t answer the question of ‘why or why not’ without that feasibility study.

Tim Smith
GM ECOEC

Conexon has been able to have a hand in everything…

Goodspeed

“Conexon has been able to have a hand in everything and that support allowed us to jump in and out of tasks and react very quickly,” said Goodspeed, “At every step, they were there saying, ‘this is what we think you should do.’ We had our lifeline in Conexon, with availability and accessibility, unlike anything I’ve seen in my 30-year career.”

David Goodspeed
President, OEC Fiber

We knew that Conexon was the company…

We knew that Conexon was the company that could help us bring this to reality,” Smith says. “They have a proven track record with other cooperatives and a blueprint on how to do this in a way that works in terms of affordability, speed of deployment and sustainability.

Tim Smith
GM ECOEC

The type of system, the Distributed TAP, is about the only way we felt we could go in a rural area like ours

Jack Davis

… Quite honestly it was something I wasn’t even aware of, but once I got my head around it, it made a lot of sense. As far as being cost-effective, it’s worked really well, when you consider the price of TAPS versus running more fiber. It’s worked extremely well.

Jack Davis
Chief Technology Officer, Pemiscot-Dunklin Electric Cooperative

Clearly Conexon was the pick of the field

Gary Wood

… Wood says. “It has been and still is the leader in fiber design and FTTH networks amongst electric co-ops. We talked to a lot of other co-ops, and part of what separated Conexon was its involvement with all of the co-op projects we could find that had delivered high performance, successfully been built in a relatively compressed schedule, and stayed within a reasonable budget. Conexon is the only consultant I know that has met all of three of those consistently.

Gary Wood
President & CEO, Central Virginia Electric Cooperative

Conexon knows how the auction works…

… which meant we didn’t have to learn all of the aspects. All the legal and advisory services were part of the process with Conexon. It was nice not having to worry about the mechanics of the auction, Jonathan and the team knew how it works, so there was no learning curve. Had we done it by ourselves, I’m not sure we could have gotten our paperwork ready and participated, given our late start.

Tim Smith
GM ECOEC

As a result of having a feasibility study…

… both pre-auction and post-auction, it was made clear to us that the win will allow us to cash flow in year one. We will not be subsidizing from the electric side.

Tim Smith
GM ECOEC

Obviously Randy had the experience with several co-ops…

Gary Wood

… he worked directly for,” Wood says. “He understands the challenges of low-density areas, but also the opportunities when you own the infrastructure, poles and overhead plant. He understands the culture of a co-op, being member and service-focused, so he’s able to help with the challenges of bringing in a new communications business.

Gary Wood
President & CEO, Central Virginia Electric Cooperative

The help Conexon provided with the auction process…

… was really the beginning of the value of our partnership. We had no experience, they brought the expertise to get us started. The results of the CAF II win will allow us to end year one and we will not be subsidizing the build-out from the electric side. That’s a unique story.

Tim Smith
GM ECOEC

The federal compliance and requirements …

Gary Wood

…for Internet and voice providers were completely new to us. We felt very comfortable that Conexon could help us set up the process and structures to make sure we were in compliance, and we were very successful in the auction in large part to Jonathan’s knowledge and insights.”

CAF II Award — $28.6M

Gary Wood
President & CEO, Central Virginia Electric Cooperative

All of our members will receive benefit…

All of our members will receive benefit from the enhanced electric, regardless of whether they choose to subscribe to broadband services. That’s the most important aspect to us, and this way, we can also provide broadband services to those who want them in an affordable way, without those services being subsidized.

Tim Smith
GM ECOEC

That before and after review demonstrated…

.. what the auction meant to our co-op,” Smith says. “The results of the CAF II award mean we will not be subsidizing the build-out from the electric side, which is important for us. We had no idea of the magnitude of the auction, but Conexon did and that’s part of the value they bring to a partnership.

Tim Smith
GM ECOEC

The CAF money changed our economic picture significantly…

Gary Wood

… Wood says. “Having that revenue guaranteed for the first 10 years gives us the breathing room to work through growing pains. The biggest benefit is that it offsets the losses in the first few years when otherwise we would be building significant debt to the co-op.

Gary Wood
President & CEO, Central Virginia Electric Cooperative

Since we didn’t have (broadband) expertise we needed…

Since we didn’t have (broadband) expertise we needed someone we were comfortable with that we didn’t have to teach the co-op business model to. Conexon is made up of co-op people, so they understand how we need to do things.

Tim Smith
GM ECOEC

We categorize this as another frontier…

We categorize this as another frontier, closely aligned with electricity to rural America in the late 30s and early 40s,” he says. “No one would build out because the farm was too far away. Now, 80 years later, we’re bringing something to rural Americans – something they need –that they couldn’t get another way.

This drives us every day.

Tim Smith
GM ECOEC

The Movement is Growing

Here's How We're Helping:

more than

90

co-ops

more than

150,000

miles of fiber

more than

1,000,000

homes and businesses

more than

200,000,000

dollars in government grants

more than

2,000,000,000

dollars invested in rural America

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Contact Us

E-mail:
[email protected]

Telephone:
202-798-FTTH (3884)

Address:
Conexon, LLC
P.O. Box 10523
Fayetteville, AR 72703