Is Dickson Electric System planning to provide Broadband Internet to DES customers?
Trusted Community Partner
Dickson Electric System (DES) is at the heart of a midstate area that is booming with economic growth making it an ideal destination for families, businesses, and new industries. DES is a public power utility dedicated to upholding the public power business model as a not-for-profit municipal system which employs local residents who live, work, and play within the communities we serve. We put money right back into those communities every year with tax equivalent payments to the counties, cities, and towns in our service territory, meaning your money stays here, your rates stay affordable, and your community reaps the benefits when we succeed.
As the decades have passed and technology has evolved, DES has worked hard to provide additional services to meet customer needs. In recent years, the need for access to affordable, quality, high-speed internet has been a significant concern for many of our 36,000 DES customers. While other internet service providers cover much of the most populated areas and communities, customers who live in areas that are not yet served by these companies all share the same consistent complaint- there is simply no reliable or affordable option for them to receive high-speed internet service at their home. And while this may have once been considered a luxury, there is no doubt that we are now living in a time where access to internet is not just an amenity to be enjoyed, but a necessity that is vital to many important areas of our lives. At Dickson Electric, we recognize this NEED that exists for so many of the families and businesses residing in these underserved areas. For years, DES management and members of our Power Board have discussed this need and how we, as your power company, may be uniquely positioned to fill this gap by providing broadband internet in addition to electric power to our customers.
Broadband Internet Services
Long before customers were stuck at home following government orders for a pandemic-related quarantine, the lack of access to quality internet was a serious concern. However, the quarantine only brought more attention to the issue and has further highlighted just how bad this problem is for our underserved areas. Internet access affects more than just quality of life—our education system, healthcare system, housing market, careers, entertainment options, economic and industrial recruitment, and more are directly affected by whether a home or area has access to quality internet services.
Currently, Dickson Electric is undergoing the second step in the process of evaluating the feasibility for providing broadband internet to customers. We have already completed a Broadband Feasibility Study for which we partnered with NRTC, a company that has completed numerous such studies across the country, most of which were specific to rural, underserved areas. The second step of our process is a Broadband Customer Survey which will be available for all DES customers to complete during the months of July and August. This survey will allow our customers to provide us the quantifiable feedback needed in addition to the Feasibility Report from NRTC for our Power Board to make the decision whether to proceed with the next step in the process or to decide against providing broadband services.
At Dickson Electric, our role as a trusted energy expert and community partner continues to grow and develop over time. If our board finds that it is viable and economically feasible for us to add local internet provider to the list of roles that we play, we will be proud to bring high-speed, reliable, affordable internet to the homes, businesses, and industries we serve. Whatever direction we go and any decisions that are made, we assure you that the best interests of you, our valued customer, will be at the forefront of those considerations.
As we look to wrap up this second step of our broadband evaluation process, many customers have a lot of questions: “When will an official decision be made?” “How much will the internet services cost?” “When will you get to neighborhood/ home?” While we do not yet have all of the answers to every question, we can tell you that we expect a final decision to be made by our Power Board within this quarter of 2020. The next step in the process will be to secure financing for this investment—a step with many important “t’s to cross and i’s to dot.” Regardless of how smoothly and quickly the next steps may end up moving, it will very likely be 2021 before any DES customers receive broadband services from us. The necessary infrastructure expansion and build-out to our system, additional recruitment and training of added personnel, and the completion of a comprehensive business plan must be completed before broadband services are ready to be enjoyed by customers.
We can assure you that we are doing and will continue to do our part to ensure this process moves along swiftly, as we recognize that “time is of the essence”—especially with the uncertainty of the future of our education systems and industries turning to the work-from-home option—but we appreciate your understanding and patience with us as we move forward.
We will soon have a page added to our website (dicksonelectric.com) that will include more information such as FAQs, timeline specifics, and a “Contact Us” form for you to access online. This will also include a link for each DES customer to complete a brief survey about internet interest in your area. We appreciate your willingness to take the time to provide this vital feedback to us and to our Power Board.