The Delta-Montrose Electric Association Board of Directors voted unanimously Tuesday to proceed with a fiber-to-the-premise business in order to bring reliable broadband Internet service to citizens and businesses in Montrose and Delta counties.
The board approved a phased deployment, which will begin with an initial pilot phase. Work on the development of the pilot phase begins immediately. This first phase is an important milestone for the cooperative, and will be used to prove the business model and test assumptions, such as take-rate.
Take rate generally refers to the percentage of visitors who took interest in an action or particular offering.
“We have an obligation to protect the financial and operational integrity of the cooperative for our members,” said DMEA CEO Jasen Bronec. “Using a phased approach will allow us to minimize our risk by only building each phase once we have met specific take-rates.”
After hearing of requests by local citizens to find a solution for the poor Internet service in the area, DMEA’s board of directors began researching options. Recognizing that reliable high-speed internet service is now paramount to advancing economic development and quality of life, just as electricity was in the ‘30s, the cooperative has been conducting in-depth research on broadband business models and case studies since late 2014.
“Because we were already deploying fiber-optic infrastructure for internal purposes, it made sense for us to explore the opportunity of expanding broadband services to our membership,” said DMEA President Bill Patterson.
The decision has been under consideration for years.
“Since my arrival at DMEA, I can’t remember a time when broadband Internet wasn’t on the minds of our members,” said Bronec. “Our communities are underserved and looking for help. It’s a story not unfamiliar to co-ops. Co-ops were instrumental in lighting up rural America once. Now we’re doing it again.”
Patterson said the decision to move forward was momentous.
“We are only at the beginning and have a lot of planning and work to accomplish before all of our members have access to our fiber,” he said. “We ask that our members are patient with the process and support our efforts as we enter this new business.”
DMEA is a rural electric distribution cooperative, located in Montrose and originally founded in 1938, as Delta-Montrose Rural Power Lines Association.
DMEA serves approximately 32,000 residential, commercial and industrial meters, on more than 3,000 miles of cooperative owned distribution line.