Remote BackersThis is one of the cool views we can see from the administrative side of our TeamFiber crowd website. Looks a little like a really bad case of chicken pox, but it’s actually a visual view of “the crowd.” With over 800 customers now active and enjoying their fiber internet, these dots represent the 700+ customers who are “in progress” in active zones, nearly 1800 who are in “pre-registration” (zones that are not yet active), and 500+ who are “remote backers” and considered outside of our currently planned service area. Word has certainly spread as we have remote backers as far away as Shelby, Coldwater and Walkerton, Indiana!

We get a lot of questions from our remote backers, especially those who can see construction going on near their residence. It feels “so close, yet so far” from that perspective. Many remote backers wonder why we can’t just extend the build a little to accommodate their street or subdivision. It’s a fair question, and we wanted to offer an explanation.

We are building this fiber communications platform across our electric distribution system for utility benefit purposes. It’s an investment in our system that will allow us to be prepared as the electric utility to deliver the products and services that our members want and need. The next generation of energy efficiency, safety and reliability standards will require robust, two-way communication across the electric grid, and that is the heart of this project. The byproduct is our ability to leverage that investment to provide data and voice solutions to our members.

So logically, our primary target as we build the electric distribution infrastructure over a five-year period is our electric membership as we’re using existing infrastructure and rights-of-way to facilitate an efficient and logical construction plan.

But if you’re a remote backer, don’t despair. There are areas within our five-year build that we may be able to incorporate just as a result the proximity to our planned construction. You’ll hear from us if that’s the case. Regardless, once our electric service territory is built, we will look at extending the service into other areas as it makes sense and where there is interest. So your challenge is to continue to share the website and build interest in your area. We’re taking care of members first, but also fully recognize that others need and deserve a broadband solution.