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The Fiber-to-the-Home Project

Background

Cookson Hills Electric Cooperative began when a group of farmers decided to bring electricity to their rural area. On July 11, 1945, a representative from Sequoyah County met with 48 rural leaders at the Sequoyah County Courthouse. Following a full explanation of the Rural Electrification Program by a REA representative from Stillwater, the farmers voted to accept a plan to proceed to obtain memberships in an electric cooperative and to run electric lines to southeastern Oklahoma.

 

After redistricting and dividing territories, the Articles of Incorporation were filed on October 8, 1945. The first meeting of the Board of Trustees was held October 16, 1945, at Stigler, Oklahoma. On March 13, 1946, the REA approved the first loan for $305,000 for the construction of 200 miles of electric distribution and service lines. The mission of CHEC still revolves around providing safe, reliable and affordable electricity to our members.

 

Fast-forward to October 2020 when the Board of Trustees and General Manager committed to serving our members in a new endeavor. The decision was made to form a new subsidiary, Cookson Hills Connect, and offer fiber-to-the-home for every member throughout the entire CHEC service territory. This life-changing technology will have a lasting impact on our rural families and communities. Cookson Hills Connect is committed to providing fast, reliable and affordable service to each and every customer, much like the founders of Cookson Hills Electric did back in the 1940’s. This new opportunity is an exciting time for us at Cookson Hills Connect, and we are grateful for the opportunity to serve our valued customers and communities for years to come.  

What is Cookson Hills Electric Cooperative building?

Our electric cooperative 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 and businesses and deliver reliable, high-speed internet services.

What is the timeframe and scope of the buildout?

This three- year FTTH buildout, encompassing 2,500 miles of fiber, will ultimately reach 100% of Cookson Hills Electric members.  The buildout will provide access to broadband benefits for over 18,000 rural Oklahoma homes and businesses.

When will construction begin?

Planning has been under way for some time as Cookson Hills Electric explored the possibility of delivering high-speed internet to our members. Construction began in Summer  2021.

Where will the internet service be offered?

The buildout will be completed in phases, and eventually, it will reach all of our 14,000+ members. We will announce our phases/locations as they are decided.

Why there?

We operate offices in Stigler and Sallisaw, OK, 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. All of these factors helped determine our buildout plans.

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

At anytime you can click the “Check Availability” button at the top of the page and enter in your information to see if fiber internet service is available in your area. We encourage you to follow us on Facebook for zone opening announcements and to preregister if you haven’t already done so. Preregistering and providing your email lets us easily notify you with specific construction updates and when fiber service will be available in your area.

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

No. Electric rates will not be raised to subsidize the buildout or deployment.

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. Cookson Hill Connect believes 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?

Through Cookson Hills Electric Cooperative's subsidiary, Cookson Hills Connect, which will offer fiber internet and telephone services to members within the area. The subsidiary is a separate company and will be managed separately from the electric cooperative. While Cookson Hills Electric Cooperative will manage its electric grid to provide electricity across our service territory, members will get their broadband services through Cookson Hills Connect. Members will be billed separately for their electric service and their broadband service.

What internet packages will be available?

Cookson Hills Connect offers the Cookson Hills Basic service 100 megabits (Mbps) per second upload and download speeds (symmetrical service) for $54.95 and the Cookson Hills Thrive (1 gigabit) per second upload and download speeds for $84.95.

Can I preregister for the internet service?

Yes. Potential subscribers are encouraged to preregister for services.  You can pre-register here:  https://cooksonhills.smarthub.coop/Login.html#

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?

Cookson Hills Connect is also offering voice (VoIP) service for $24.99.

Will a contract be required?

No.

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

Installation service installations have started in some areas. We encourage potential subscribers to preregister through the portal as early as possible to get one the installation. We will send out postcards, emails and automated calls to members as their locations become eligible for installation service.

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 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 increase property values 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 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.  Phone services are anticipated to be available in 2022.

How does the phone service work?

Cookson Hills Connect 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.