In 2018 East Central Electric accepted the mission of providing reliable, affordable internet service to members in our communities by forming ecoLINK fiber services.
The mission was similar to when the co-ops first brought electricity to rural homes and farms. It made such a difference in the lives of those who had been overlooked or refused service. Now, 85 years later, we’ve done it again by building 4,153 miles of fiber to provide internet to over 31,000 broadband service locations.
The cooperative core value of improving quality of life for others inspired us to accept the mission and our approach was with the same attitude and spirit that East Central Electric members know and trust. There was a need in the East Central Electric service area that the Board of Directors recognized just in time.
“We recognized the importance of high-speed internet, but none of us were fully prepared for the extent of the desperate need,” said ecoLINK Director of Broadband Operations Jeremy Hendrickson. “When the pandemic began, the need for high-speed internet was obvious. We received feedback from educators, students, remote workers, and individuals requiring telemedicine services that were desperate to get access. It certainly pushed us into higher gear.”
Initially the mission was a six year, six phase project. Once the project began, two phases were combined which shaved one year off. After that, work accelerated and was completed in an impressive four years and five months.
Hendrickson says, “Although the mission to our members is complete, there are still many who need access to high-speed internet and we’re committed to seeing this through. Now, we will begin filling in the gaps and fulfilling grant obligations in off-system areas.”
We’re thankful to the many who have helped with our mission and have chosen to continue with us for the next mission.
We want to see communities, members, schools, and small businesses thrive; and for all who need or want reliable, high-speed internet to have access to it.
ecoLINK By the Numbers:
• 4,153 miles of fiber
• 14, 363 installations
• 50% take-rate
• 5 phases
• 78 feeders
• 22 fiber huts
• 90 net promoter score