Barry Electric Coop to offer Internet, phone services

Wednesday, March 11, 2015

Local company hopes to launch fiber-to-the-home service in summer 2016

Members of the Barry Electric Cooperative will soon be offered a new service by the company, as it is starting a fiber-to-the-home project to launch Internet an phone services in 2016.

Bill Shiveley, Barry Electric general manager and CEO, said Internet and phone services will be sold separately from electric services, and work on a fiber ring around Cassville should begin this year.

"The central office area will basically be around Cassville," Shiveley said. "It will go out Highway 248 just north of Cassville, then go west across the highway and back down south. The build areas, from that point, will go in all directions out from Cassville, and we hope to service all our customers, including Shell Knob, Washburn, Seligman, and everyone north of Jenkins up to Wheelerville."

Barry Electric began exploring the possibility of building a fiber-to-the-home network in 2010 after numerous requests from members. Finley Engineering of Lamar was hired to design the network, as well as provide SmartGrid, Supervisory Control and Data Acquisition and Energy Efficiency capabilities for the cooperative.

The system design selected is a Gigabit Passive Optical Network, with capability for some active ethernet where required. The design allows for Internet speeds of up to 1 gigabyte per second. The service area requires eight building areas, including the central office and seven remote locations. A fiber ring will connect the remote locations to each other, and to the central office.

Barry Electric had hoped to complete the projects at the same time over a three-year period, with the help of a 2014 Federal Communications Commission grant. However, the cooperative's application was denied, forcing the company to proceed with its own funding.

Using its own funding, the central office will be built first, and about 179 miles of fiber will be installed, along with all the electronics required to provide Internet, phone and possibly video to the cooperative's more than 1,600 members.

The seven remaining remote locations would then be built as the funds become available, and Barry Electric plans to continue applying for the FCC grant, as well.

Shiveley said being so early on in the process, packages and prices have not been determined.

"We have not determined the packages yet, but we're thinking some will be in the 50 megabytes per second, 100 megabytes per second, 500 megabytes per second and 1 gigabyte per second range," he said. "The phone service will be IP-based and will include unlimited local and long-distance.

"We have not set prices yet, but other cooperatives have phone and Internet from $69 up, starting with the phone service and 50 megabytes per second. Commercial packages may run more because many businesses have multiple phone lines."

Shiveley said he expects construction on the project will begin in the fall, and he's hoping to be able to hook customers up by early summer of 2016.

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