Fiber connectivity in and outside the state got a boost this summer when 21 electric and telephone cooperative service providers who offer communications services formed Accord Telecommunications Collaborative, LLC.
The consortium’s goal, Accord Chair James Tanneberger, president and CEO of South Central Indiana REMC, noted, is “to work with fellow providers of all kinds to bring world-class fiber connectivity and services to residents, providers and businesses throughout Indiana and beyond.”
Eight of Hoosier Energy’s 18 member cooperatives are among Accord’s full member-owners. Three more Hoosier Energy co-ops are associate members of what is one of the largest contiguous, fiber-based networks in the state of Indiana.
Accord’s member-owners collectively serve more than 300,000 Hoosier homes and businesses. In total, those member-owners own 20,000 miles of fiber optic infrastructure valued at more than $1 billion. The electric co-op members serve roughly 75 percent of Indiana’s land mass and have approximately 40,000 miles of electric lines. This broadens opportunities to expand data service coverage throughout the state.
“Our electric cooperative member-owners have built massive fiber networks for purposes of improving electric reliability through implementation of smart grid technologies,” said Accord Secretary-Treasurer John Sturm, who is also CEO of JCREMC and president of JCFiber. “We have also brought high speed internet to our members in some of the least populated parts of the state. Add to that the impressive networks that our telephone cooperative member-owners built to bring broadband to their footprints, and you have quite a large inventory of assets.
“Now,” Sturm stressed, “we have an opportunity to leverage those assets and take things to the next level to create something special for the state of Indiana.”
Accord’s diversity is not only shown in its mix of electric and telephone cooperatives, but its even ownership split between northern and southern Indiana. Potential benefits include collaboration across the state with a willing mix of non-traditional partners.
“Accord stands ready to coordinate with other networks and providers to greatly improve access throughout the state of Indiana, all while increasing economic growth and helping bridge the digital divide,” said Tony Clark, Accord board member and CEO/general manager of SEI Communications.