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continental divide electric cooperative
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Panhandle Telephone Cooperative Inc. (PTCI) has announced the broadband provider will be dramatically expanding access to its fiber broadband services in New Mexico thanks to a new $43.4 million grant made possible by federal infrastructure legislation.
The Cooperative currently predominately offers fiber broadband, phone, and cellular wireless phone service to subscribers in Oklahoma and Texas. The $43 million cash infusion will allow the cooperative to expand access outside of its existing footprint into rural Union County, in northeast New Mexico.
As per grant rules, the network will deliver speeds of 100 Megabit per second (Mbps) downstream and 20 Mbps upstream, but the cooperative does not yet have a construction timeline or information on planned tiers and pricing.
PTCI’s existing deployments in Texas provide locals with uncapped fiber access at symmetrical speeds of 100 Mbps, 250 Mbps, and 1 Gbps for $60, $86, and $116 per month, respectively. The company stopped offering TV services in 2020, but launched its own cellular network in its existing territories starting in 2021.
The project’s $43 million grant for expansion into New Mexico was made possible courtesy of a recently announced fourth funding round for the U.S Department of Agriculture’s ReConnect Program. Last month the program announced another $714 million in grants and loans aimed at shoring up broadband access to long unserved or underserved rural Americans.
This is the transcript for Episode 277 of the Community Broadband Bits podcast. Luis Reyes from Kit Carson Electric Cooperative joins the show to explain how electric cooperatives are solving the digital divide in rural America. Listen to this episode here.
Luis Reyes: People trust co-ops. They trust Electric co-ops. They've been - been around since the mid 30s. I think there was a lot of faith that we could pull this off and make it as reliable as we made the electric system.
Lisa Gonzalez: You're listening to episode 277 of the Community Broadband Bits podcast from the Institute for Local Self-Reliance. I'm Lisa Gonzalez. Rural New Mexico has some of the most scenic landscape in the U.S. It also presents some of the most difficult challenges in getting its widely dispersed population connected with high quality connectivity. The Kit Carson Electric Cooperative it's changing the situation in the north central area of the state. For several years now they've been connecting people in the region with fiber to the home improving connectivity for residents, businesses, and local entities. This week we hear more about the project from Luis Reyes CEO of Kit Carson who gives us a history of the project and how high quality Internet access is benefiting the region. Now, here's Christopher and Luis.
Christopher Mitchell: Welcome to another edition of the Community Broadband Bits podcast. I'm Chris Mitchell from the Institute for Local Self-Reliance up in Minneapolis, Minnesota. Today I'm speaking with Luis Reyes the CEO of Kit Carson Electric Cooperative. Welcome to the show, Luis.
Luis Reyes: Thanks Chris. I'm happy to talk to you.
Christopher Mitchell: Well I'm excited to talk to you as well. We've we've been covering a lot of the electric cooperatives getting into fiber networks. You've been doing this longer than many. We've interviewed a few others but I think this is incredibly important for rural America. Maybe start by telling us a little bit about Kit Carson. Where are you located and what's the geography around your area?
The Kit Carson Electric Cooperative serves rural north central New Mexico and has been an early investor in a fiber-optic network that has brought high quality Internet service to a state largely stuck with 90's era DSL from incumbent CenturyLink.
Luis Reyes, CEO of Kit Carson, joins us for episode 277 to discuss how the utility is ensuring its members all have high-quality Internet access available and some of the lessons they have learned in building the network. They have seen population growth and a rise in small businesses, especially people who can work from home.
One of they key lessons is how to manage sign-ups. They have a significant waiting list, from a combination of greater demand than expected and the challenges of managing the home install process.
Finally, we talk about how Kit Carson is working with another local cooperative to expand that high-quality access in New Mexico.
We want your feedback and suggestions for the show-please e-mail us or leave a comment below.
Thanks to Arne Huseby for the music. The song is Warm Duck Shuffle and is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution (3.0) license.