ecoLINK’S Future:  Bridging the Digital Divide

Although the mission to serve members is complete, there are still many who need access to high-speed internet, and ecoLINK is committed to seeing this through.  ecoLINK will fill in the gaps and fulfill grant obligations in off-system areas.

The successful 2023 completion of ecoLINK’s East Central Electric membership project marks a significant stride in a commitment to providing cutting-edge, affordable fiber broadband services. It’s a milestone in ECE’s journey toward bridging the digital divide.  Completing the member project has fueled their desire to eagerly step into the next phase of their journey. 

“It (project completion) has reinforced our dedication to delivering reliable, affordable, high-speed fiber broadband services, transforming the digital landscape within the East Central Electric Cooperative service area,” Director of Broadband Operations Jeremy Hendrickson said.

One of the key pillars of ecoLINK’s future is a steadfast commitment to bringing high-speed internet to underserved communities.  These areas, often overlooked by traditional service providers, represent a digital gap that ecoLINK is determined to bridge.  

“We recognize that access to reliable broadband is not a luxury,” Hendrickson said. “But a fundamental necessity in the modern world.”

With the member project triumphantly concluded, ecoLINK eagerly ventures into the next phase of its journey – the Off-System Build. This initiative seeks to expand their fiber broadband network, ensuring connectivity in communities that were previously underserved. 

ecoLINK has identified the communities in their service area that are underserved and have expressed a desire for high-quality broadband.  

Hendrickson said ecoLINK plans to strategically expand their network into these areas, ensuring that residents and businesses can benefit from fast, reliable, and affordable internet connections.  This expansion is integral to ecoLINK’s mission.

ecoLINK is currently immersed in the planning and design phase of the Off-System Build. They are tactically planning their expansion into the aforementioned areas. This crucial stage involves meticulous research, innovative planning, and strategic design.  Additionally, ecoLINK has been awarded grant monies from CAF (Connect America Fund), RDOF (Rural Digital Opportunity Fund) and most recently ARPA (American Rescue Plan Act) to extend its services beyond its electric service territory boundaries.