Broadband Subsidiary: NEXT
Like other cooperatives, North Arkansas Electric Cooperative (NAEC) understands its mission is to meet the needs of its members.
In that spirit, the co-op launched a fiber-to-the-home pilot in late 2015 that has transitioned into a full-scale deployment of a broadband network that ultimately will reach all of its more than 29,000 members. By the end of the first quarter in 2020, NAEC will have built between 800 and 900 miles of fiber and passed 10,000 meters. As of January, NEXT has more than 2,100 subscribers. The co-op has the distinction of being Conexon Partner Randy Klindt’s first consulting client. His advice and recommendations on everything from financial projections to bulk material purchases were key parts of the pilot’s success and the decision to move forward with subsequent phases.
Among the co-op’s greatest FTTH milestones was its CAF II award of nearly $23 million, funds that Klindt and Conexon Partner Jonathan Chambers helped secure. The federal funds made a significant impact on both the co-op’s financials and ability to serve its rural membership. Original projections had the project taking nine years to achieve positive margins without the CAF funding. The CAF funding produced positive margins in year 1.