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Fiber Update- December 11, 2018

9:52AM December 13, 2018

A quote that sums up the Jackson Connect fiber-optic internet undertaking is from Milton Berle- “If opportunity doesn’t knock, build a door”.  The opportunity for our rural members to have high-speed, fiber-optic internet wasn’t knocking, so Jackson County REMC created Jackson Connect to provide the same internet speeds that residents who live in cities and towns are already accustomed to.

Fiber Services Coordinator Melissa Abdulbari had this to say, “I truly enjoy working for Jackson Connect! Being part of this project and seeing it grow is something I feel really good about.  Knowing this is a need for most people, we strive to keep this project moving forward.  Everything may not be ‘light speed’ like our internet, but we are putting forth every effort we can to efficiently deliver an amazing service to our members.”

In November, Jackson Connect had it’s 1-year construction anniversary, and a lot has happened over the past year.  There are currently about 600 miles of mainline and distribution fiber installed.  The project, which had an original timeline of 5 years, is currently ahead of schedule and we are approaching 500 members connected.  “The first year of construction has been equally challenging and rewarding. To complete over 500 miles of fiber installation and have nearly 500 customers connected is impressive,” Matt Persinger, Technology Manager, had to say about his department’s progress. “I couldn't be prouder of the team of people making this happen.”

We are growing at a pace that the co-op hasn’t seen in many years, both in new fiber services and employees, and we’ve continually been learning, updating, and improving our processes. Mark Smallwood, Facilities Engineer adds, “Our fiber project will mean so much to so many. To take the bold step as REMC did to build something from the ground up and be asked to be part of this journey, to make the pieces fit, is very gratifying.”

Currently, installations are happening in the Brownstown zone and will soon be available in Pleasant Grove and Cortland Zones.  Pre-drop surveys will soon be available in the Little York West zone.  Each and every one of Jackson County REMC’s members will have the opportunity for fiber-optic high-speed internet through Jackson Connect. 

“Building something like this from the ground up, it’s a big job, and it’s going well,” said our installers, Chris Crane, Tanner Sutherland and Aaron Smith. “We haven’t met a member that hasn’t loved the service.” 

At the end of 2017, Jackson County REMC had 71 employees.  Today, there are 84 employees.  The fiber department has 12 employees, 8 of which were new hires in 2018.  Other positions, such as Customer Service Representative, Lineman Apprentice and Marketing Specialist were also added in 2018 to keep the quality of member services at the high standard it’s always been, with the increased volume of member needs. 

Heather Stevens, Fiber Services Coordinator, sums up the sentiment of all employees: “By providing this service we are improving the quality of living for all of our members and their families, which is extremely rewarding.  I’m curious and excited to see what the future holds for Jackson County REMC and Jackson Connect.”

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