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The 4-County Electric Power Association electrical cooperative in east central Mississippi is moving beyond the pilot phase of its network upgrade, according to DZS Inc., one of the partners on the project.

During the next few years, 4-County plans to construct 3,700 miles of fiber and offer its gigabit-plus FASTnet Fiber serviced via GPON and XGS-PON to its 40,000-plus member residential and business members, which are in in nine rural counties. Part of the plan is to enable the cooperative to connect critical electric infrastructure to a smart grid network.

The broadband network project, which is funded by more than $35 million from the Rural Digital Opportunity Fund (RDOF) and the CARES Act, is in its second year.

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In addition to DZS—which is providing broadband connectivity platform and communications software – the project partners include Irby Utilities, which is a subsidiary of Sonepar USA. It is providing a “full scope fiber network solutions” via its technology and communications business group.

The FASTnet network provides symmetrical and residential packages of 200 Mbps, 500 Mbps and 1 Gbps. Irby and DZS are deploying DZS’s Velocity broadband access and Helix edge access technology. 4-County also has about 50,000 meters and 5,500 miles of power lines in addition to its residential and business customers.

“This groundbreaking FASTnet Fiber project is more than just bridging the digital divide – It is obliterating it by bringing multi-gigabit capable hyper-broadband services via GPON and XGS-PON access technologies to areas with extremely limited broadband access,” Brian Clark, 4-County Electrical Power Association’s CEO and general manager said in a press release. “As this network comes to fruition, it will catapult 4-County’s membership straight to the forefront of the digital age and provide transformational opportunity to our region.”

The electric cooperative broadband movement is in full swing. Check out our coverage of this important trend here.

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