Atlanta, GA – Today, Governor Kemp announced Irwin EMC's plans to provide access to reliable, affordable, high-speed fiber broadband service for its 8,400 members. The cooperative has selected Conexon Connect, the internet service provider subsidiary of rural fiber-optic network design and construction management leader Conexon, to lead the project and serve EMC members with fiber broadband.
Together, Irwin EMC and Connect will launch and deploy a 1,900-mile fiber-to-the-home (FTTH) network in south central Georgia, providing high-speed internet access to 100% of the member homes and businesses it serves in Ben Hill, Berrien, Coffee, Irwin, Tift, Turner, Wilcox, and Worth counties.
"Today’s announced broadband project between Irwin EMC and Conexon Connect will have a significant impact on hardworking Georgians by providing new job opportunities, improved education tools, access to telemedicine, and more," said Governor Kemp. "I know this project will have a direct impact on the lives of south Georgians by ensuring they have access to reliable, high-speed internet."
"Rural broadband is a critical issue for Georgia and across the nation," said Georgia Public Service Commissioner Jason Shaw. "Irwin EMC is a leader in their community and this partnership with Conexon Connect creates a solution to provide high-speed internet in unserved areas. This is another example of how EMCs are stepping up to serve rural Georgia and further improve the quality of life for their members."
"I’m grateful for Irwin EMC’s investment in broadband that will expand service over these eight counties in south Georgia," said State Senator Tyler Harper. "The State Senate has made rural broadband access a top priority and the announcement of this project continues to work toward our goal of closing the digital divide in our state."
"Our community deserves access to the tools that help our residents and businesses successfully participate in today’s economy," said State Representative Clay Pirkle. "Thanks to Irwin EMC and Conexon Connect for making broadband a reality in this region."
"Offering fiber broadband to our members represents a huge turning point for our electric cooperative and our communities. Our members have been asking for high-speed internet for years, but we couldn’t bring the project together until now," said Randy Crenshaw, President/CEO of Irwin EMC. "It’s exciting to get started so that the rural communities we serve will no longer have the limitations they’ve experienced for years as the result of unreliable internet service."
The fiber-optic network will offer members access to symmetrical gigabit internet capabilities – among the fastest and most robust in the nation. Additionally, it will provide reliable, clear phone service, and enable the benefits of smart grid capabilities to the electrical infrastructure, including improved power outage response times, better load balancing, more efficient electricity delivery, and more.
"The digital divide is very real in many communities across rural Georgia. Conexon Connect has formed multiple relationships with Georgia EMCs and we are excited for the opportunity to make a difference for those served by Irwin EMC," said Conexon Partner Randy Klindt. "As we have seen in countless communities across the country, high-speed internet has the power to completely transform rural life."
Together, Irwin EMC and Conexon Connect are investing approximately $49 million to build the network, which is expected to be completed within 2-3 years. The first customers are anticipated to be connected in summer 2022.
In recent years, Georgia’s EMCs have been pursuing solutions to help expand broadband access. Some, like Blue Ridge Mountain EMC and Habersham EMC, have created affiliates and are already providing high-speed service to members and many are exploring or have formed partnerships with broadband providers. In addition to today’s news, other EMC partnerships and projects were announced recently by Amicalola EMC, Carroll EMC, Central Georgia EMC, Colquitt EMC, Diverse Power, Middle Georgia EMC, Satilla REMC, Southern Rivers Energy, Tri-County EMC, and Washington EMC, resulting in expanded access for approximately 187,000 Georgia homes and businesses.
About Irwin EMC:
Irwin EMC is a member-owned electric distribution cooperative providing electricity and other related services to approximately 8,400 members in Ben Hill, Berrien, Coffee, Irwin, Tift, Turner, Wilcox, and Worth counties on a system that includes 1,900 miles of lines and 12,250 meters.
About Conexon Connect:
Connect is the internet services provider (ISP) arm of rural fiber broadband design and construction management leader Conexon. The subsidiary was formed to operate and manage cooperative and investor-owned fiber-to-the-home networks. Connect leverages Conexon’s decades of co-op operations, fiber-optic design and construction, telecommunications, federal and state lobbying, and customer experience management expertise to successfully launch and operate projects. The Connect approach is to work exclusively with electric cooperatives to launch and deploy high-speed fiber-optic networks – the gold standard of communications transmission – enabling them to offer world-class fiber broadband to 100% of their members.
Conexon works with Rural Electric Cooperatives to bring fiber to the home in rural communities. The company is composed of professionals who have worked in electric cooperatives and the telecommunications industry, and offer decades of individual experience in business planning, building networks, marketing, and selling telecommunications. Conexon offers its electric cooperative clients end-to-end broadband deployment and operations support, from a project’s inception all the way through to its long-term sustainability. It works with clients to analyze economic feasibility, secure financing, design the network, manage construction, provide operational support, optimize business performance, and determine optimal partnerships. To date, Conexon has assisted nearly 200 electric cooperatives, nearly 50 of which are deploying fiber networks, with nearly 500,000 rural Americans connected to fiber to the home. Overall, the company has secured more than $1.3 billion in federal and state funding for its clients across the country.