The broadband subsidiary of a Missouri-based electric co-op is building a new fiber network that delivers gigabit, cloud-based WiFi services to rural residents.
Tired of telling people who called its offices that it only provided electricity to the region, SEMO Electric Cooperative wanted to expand its services, said Board Member Carla Moore, so it eventually created its own broadband co-op, GoSEMO.
"Our people want to be able to go shopping on Amazon... whatever. It got to the point where we had to do something for our people here," said Sean Vanslyke, CEO of GoSEMO and SEMO Electric Cooperative.
First, co-op executives met with peers at other co-ops to learn from their successes and mistakes, said Brad Milam, manager of IT and engineering services at GoSEMO. These fellow co-op professionals shared vendor partners, things to avoid based on their mistakes and best practices, he said. Based on that feedback, GoSEMO selected Calix E72, GPON, Calix GigaCenter and Calix Support Cloud (CSC), as part of its set of technology solutions, said Milam.
"Broadband is essential to the advancement of our communities -- from taking care of our current members to providing economic development opportunities in the future," said Vanslyke in a recent statement. "By partnering with Calix and learning from other electric co-ops, we have been able to accelerate our projects and build a network that exceeds the expectations of our members. Calix is a proven partner amongst electric cooperatives, and this relationship will be instrumental to the growth and success of our network."
The new network will span six counties and about 16,000 homes, farms and businesses. Several companies have left the region but allowed some staff to work from home, said Gina Beggs, a customer care and support specialist. However, remote workers must have reliable, high-speed Internet to retain their jobs -- something that appeared doubtful until GoSEMO unveiled its broadband plan and began rolling out the service, she said.
With cloud-based managed WiFi, GoSEMO can proactively monitor, diagnose and administer residential subscribers' networks to prevent outages by addressing issues before they arise. GoSEMO uses Calix Support Cloud and network insights to improve quality customer experience, said Vanslyke. With a GigaCenters in each home, GoSEMO subscribers have managed WiFi service so they can use smart-home devices, connected tablets or smartphones from every room.
Based on its successful launch, GoSEMO hopes to expand its WiFi offering outside its traditional footprint, and is working with the Municipality of Sikeston to provide those residents with gigabit service and accompanying WiFi connectivity, GoSEMO said.
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The ongoing debate around GPON vs EPON can get as heated as discussions around politics and religion, but both technologies offer some advantages over the other depending on the needs your network is servicing.
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