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The Fiber-to-the-Home Pilot Project

Background

The mission of Southwest Arkansas Electric Cooperative is to provide first class electric service to the membership at a valued price and, to provide other services that add value to the organization.

What is Southwest Arkansas building?

Southwest Arkansas is building a fiber to the home (FTTH) network – the gold standard of communications transmission – over its existing electric distribution infrastructure that will take fiber directly into homes or businesses that subscribe to the service. Fiber-optic transmission is the fastest, most robust technology on the market today, with exceptional speeds, reliability and capabilities. We will be marketing the services through our fiber entity, Four States Fiber.

When will construction begin?

Construction has already begun in the northeast region of the initial phase of the network build.

Where will the internet service be offered?

This pilot project will service residents in and around the towns of south west Arkansas.

Why there?

We operate our office in Texarkana, among our considerations, we took into account whether the area was unserved or underserved, population density, total buildout cost, the number of potential subscribers and revenue projections in deciding where to start.

How do I know if I am in the initial service area?

Four States Fiber’s preregistration portal available at fourstatesfiber.com allows members to enter their electric account number and home or business address to determine if the household or business is in the service area, and/or when service might be available. The portal will continually be updated as construction progresses and will be accessible through smart phones and other electronic devices.

Will my electric bill increase to pay for the FTTH network?

No. Electric rates will not be raised to subsidize the buildout or deployment. We waited for grant money to be available before starting this project.

The Technology — Internet Service

What is a fiber-optic network?

Fiber-optic systems are made up of tiny strands of glass that carry data using light waves, resulting in much faster internet speeds and better reliability than traditional copper lines. Most internet providers use fiber in their systems but use copper lines for the final connections to the home, resulting in slower speeds. We believe FTTH is the best, most sustainable communications choice. With our FTTH service, we offer “symmetrical” speeds, meaning you’ll enjoy the same high speeds whether uploading or downloading.

What makes fiber so special?

A fiber-optic network sends and receives data at the speed of light. In addition to super-fast transmission speeds, a fiber optic network can carry an extremely high amount of data. Fiber is also more reliable than other networks, because it’s less susceptible to interference and damage from lightning and other acts of nature.

What does the term “broadband” mean?

Broadband commonly refers to high-speed internet access that is always on and faster than traditional dial-up access and wireless. Broadband fiber-optic networks can deliver voice, data, video and email services over the internet.

The Next Steps – Getting Service

How will I get FTTH services?

Southwest Arkansas subsidiary, Four States Fiber, which will offer fiber internet and telephone services to members within the pilot area. The subsidiary is a separate company and will be managed separately from the electric cooperative. While Southwest Arkansas will manage its electric grid to provide electricity across our service territory, members will get their broadband services through Four States Fiber. Members will be billed separately for their electric service and their broadband service.

What internet packages will be available?

Four States Fiber offers the Four States Fiber Standard service 100 megabits (Mbps) per second upload and download speeds (symmetrical service) for $49.95 and the Four States Fiber Premium (1 gigabit) per second upload and download speeds for $79.95

Can I preregister for the internet service?

Yes. Potential subscribers are encouraged to preregister for services through the pre-registration portal at fourstatesfiber.com.

Are there data caps with this service?

There are no data caps or bandwidth throttling (intentional slowing or speeding of internet service) with this service.

Will voice and TV service be available immediately?

Four States Fiber is also offering voice (VoIP) service for $19.99.

Will a contract be required?

No.

What is the earliest date that internet services can be installed in my home?

Internet service installations will likely begin in June. We encourage potential subscribers to preregister through the portal as early as possible to get on the installation list.

What is the installation process?

Once you sign up for service, fiber installation is fairly simple and non-invasive. We pull fiber from our main lines and follow power lines to attach the fiber to your home or business. The fiber will be hung or buried underground. Next, we attach the fiber line to a box near your electric meter where the home/business inside wiring connects with the outside wiring. Finally, the fiber is connected to a fiber jack inside your home or office, where it’s plugged into the modem we provide. In essence, the construction crews pulling and hanging the fiber and taking it to your house’s outside wiring are preparing the network to go live once construction in the area is complete. One of our member relations representatives will contact you to schedule an appointment for an in-home installer to finalize your connection and test the services from your equipment. Once the installation is complete and tested, your service should be ready to go.

Will the construction crews make a mess in my yard?

Fiber construction often involves digging or trenching and our trucks to be in the neighborhoods. Our contractors are trained to minimize any damage, and should any occur, to repair before leaving the job.

The Benefits

Why are you offering broadband service?

Our communities have long suffered from a lack of broadband equality – access to the same speeds and capabilities as those in less rural areas. Broadband availability across our service area will help close the digital divide between those who have access to advanced technology and those who don’t. A few of the many advantages of broadband access are:

  • online teaching capabilities allowing our students to learn from home
  • healthcare benefits such as telemedicine
  • work-from-home interoffice connectivity and videoconferencing capabilities that will help professionals stay in their homes, while being productive
  • quality of life improvements through enhanced communications
  • economic development and growth in rural areas. Access to high-speed internet can raise home prices and attract businesses to communities.

In addition, by connecting our electric substations and offices with fiber, we will create a smart grid with more automation capabilities to better serve our members. Smart grid capabilities – the standard for optimum electric infrastructure – allows our devices to communicate with each other and delivers benefits such as improved power outage response times, better load balancing, more efficient electricity delivery and others.

How will I benefit from fiber internet access?

Our sole reason for offering high-speed internet services is to meet the needs of members like you. You will no longer have to rely on DSL, fixed wireless or satellite internet to stay connected online. You will have reliable cell phone connections, be able to stream high-definition media smoothly and quickly, have the data capacity to download and upload data such as files, photos and videos at super-fast speeds, and have access to the latest technological advancements and applications.

Our FTTH world-class service will be reliable, affordable and backed by your local, trusted co-op. You will be able to run multiple devices – such as cell phones, computers and laptops – simultaneously in your home or business without decreased download and upload speeds. The table below gives you a speed comparison between what you may have now and what’s possible with FTTH:

* Typical DSL / Wireless / Satellite (3 Mbps) Standard internet speed (25 Mbps) FIBER INTERNET
Up to 1000 Mbps (Gigabit)
Download 100 photos 14.7 minutes 1.8 minutes 2.6 seconds
Download HD movie 4.8 hours 34.4 minutes 51.5 seconds
Download 50 Songs 8.2 minutes 1 minute 1.5 seconds
Download 50GB Game 39.8 hours 4.8 hours 7.2 minutes

*Download speeds calculated using the following averages:
Phone Photo – 3.15 MB
HD movie – 6 GB
Song – 3.5 MB
Game – 50 GB

Phone Services

Do I have to sign up for phone service to get high-speed internet?

No, you can sign up for the services individually.

How does the phone service work?

Four States Fiber’s phone service uses Voice over Internet Protocol (VoIP) technology. Calls you make are processed over the public telephone switched network, which results in a higher quality call than traditional VoIP calls.

Can I keep my phone number?

In the majority of cases, yes. We sign agreements with various carriers to “port” phone numbers to the new service.