Broadband Subsidiary: Forked Deer Connect
Tennessee’s Forked Deer Electric Cooperative is on the fast track in building a fiber-to-the-home network that will serve 100% of its 10,000 meters. A 2018 pilot quickly transformed into phases one and two, with the first customer connected in 2019, and today the co-op is in phase nine with 1,100 customers connected. All told, the co-op, which is providing gigabit-speed internet and telephone service, progressed from phase one to phase nine in 18 months.
Conexon was an early partner with Forked Deer, creating the co-op’s feasibility study with what IT Manager Brian Vaughn calls a realistic and conservative approach.
“We were very comfortable with Conexon,” he said. They gave us conservative take rate estimates and a realistic view. We knew we weren’t just being sold a product.”
Forked Deer territory is unique -- over 98% rural residential, with no businesses, schools, hospitals, or government entities to offset the costs of providing rural residents with broadband. This characteristic contributed to an unanticipated financial boon realized with Conexon’s help– a $2.85 million ReConnect grant from the U.S. Department of Agriculture.
“We lacked the potential revenue opportunities from businesses that others may have had,” said Vaughn. “In fact, we were actually the first to get a ReConnect grant. Conexon was a huge help in navigating that process.”
“The ReConnect funding will move up our break-even point for Forked Deer and allow us to shave nearly a year off the original deployment,” said Forked Deer General Manager Jeff Newman. “Conexon has been an invaluable partner from the beginning, but particularly in the area of funding support. The ReConnect grant creates a totally new financial picture for us and allows us to serve all our members faster than we had anticipated.”