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Sequachee Valley Electric Cooperative bringing high-speed fiber internet, TV, and phone to Marion County

The Sequachee Valley Electric Cooperative (SVEC) announced on Friday the launch of a new subsidiary, SVEConnect, which will bring high-speed fiber optic internet service to SVEC members in the Marion County area.

In addition to high-speed internet services, SVEConnect will also offer phone and television service to customers, similar to what Chattanooga’s EPB has made available to its customers in recent years.

SVEC has been working for several years to build a fiber network in an effort to connect the cooperative’s offices and substations and eventually homes and meters to incorporate smart grid technology into their daily operations.

SVEC President Mike Partin, County Mayor David Jackson, and others were on hand for the announcement of SVEConnect at the Marion County Courthouse steps on Friday, March 2nd, 2018 (Photo: SVEC Facebook)

While the existing fiber backbone is a vital part of the co-op’s engineering and operations heading into the future, it also opens up the capability to provide broadband internet, voice-over-internet protocol (VoIP) telephone and IP television services to cooperative members. Officials say that with the existing infrastructure in place, it will allow SVEConnect to bring broadband to previously unserved areas quickly and affordably.

“This is a long-term project that will be an investment in our communities,” said SVEC President/CEO Mike Partin. “As an electric cooperative, we have nearly eighty years’ experience delivering power to the rural communities that for-profit companies would not serve. Today, the vital service needed by our members is high-speed internet. So many businesses, industries, educational and medical institutions and even our homes depend on broadband service. It is also a proven economic driver that attracts and retains businesses and families.”

Until recently Tennessee state law prohibited electric cooperatives in Tennessee from providing retail telecommunication services, however, with the passing of the Tennessee Broadband Accessibility Act last year, the restrictions have been lifted for areas of Tennessee not served by a telephone cooperative.The only SVEC area not served by a telephone cooperative is Marion County, excluding the Monteagle area.

Marion County High student Caitlin Munn addressed the crowd at the gathering

“With having inconsistent internet and bad cell reception, it’s really hard to get an internet service to do homework. An assignment that should only take about thirty minutes could sometimes take an hour and a half to two hours to do which, takes a lot of time in the afternoons.”

SVEC officials say with the roll-out of the SVEConnect services, students like Caitlin won’t have to wait so long while pages load or documents download. SVEConnect will offer speeds up to 1 Gig for members who sign up. The hardest wait for many, however, will be waiting for the services to come to their homes and neighborhoods.

“It will take time to build the lines out from our existing network, but we will be keeping our members up-to-date as we move from community to community,” said Partin. “No one is in a better position to understand the importance of taking essential services to low density areas. We’ve spent nearly eighty years building our reputation as a trusted provider of safe, reliable, affordable electricity, now we are working to extend that reputation of trust and quality service by providing affordable, dependable high-speed internet service, Voice-over IP telephone service and television programing.”

SVEC is a consumer-owned electric utility that provides energy to more than 35,000 homes and businesses in parts of nine southeast Tennessee counties. Learn more at www.svalleyec.com.

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