rural setting

Tombigbee Electric Cooperative provided some additional details about its plans for high-speed fiber broadband deployments in its home state of Alabama. The company received funding through the Rural Digital Opportunity Fund (RDOF) and the CARES Act to cover some costs of the deployments.

Tombigbee said key vendors for the deployments will include Ribbon Communications and KGPCo. The information came in a press release from Ribbon Communications, which will supply its Apollo IP Optical network solution for the deployments.

KGPCo will provide GPON gigabit access systems, hut locations, fiber and routers. The projects will use existing rights of way.

“We were fortunate enough to be recipients of grants from the federal government’s Rural Digital Opportunity Fund (RDOF) and CARES Act and we want to use these funds to deliver high speed broadband access to any of our member customers who want it,” Tombigbee CEO Steve Foshee said in a press release. “Many of our members live in previously underserved areas and don’t have access to high-speed internet, so our goal is to make Northwest Alabama a Gigabit Ethernet Zone.”

Ribbon says that its Apollo platform enables traffic optimization, enhances layer 1 security and lowers cost per bit. The platform is in a small form factor with integrated amplifiers. It offers “fiber health” capabilities that provide early warnings of fiber issues and pinpoints problems to within a few meters, according to Steven Bruny, the company’s executive vice president for sales in the Americans region.

The RDOF and CARES Act funding isn’t the first government broadband funding Tombigbee has received.

In December of 2019, Tombigbee received a $28.2 million combined grant/loan from the USDA’s ReConnect program for an all-dielectric self-supporting (ADSS) fiber network that was to make broadband available to 2,152 households, 20 farms, 15 businesses, 10 critical community facilities, five educational facilities and one healthcare facility in Alabama.

In May 2018, Tombigbee got a $2.98 million grant from the USDA. The project aimed to deploy broadband in a rural area of the state totaling 1,000 square miles. The project, which was divided into five phases, was estimated to cost about $40 million.

Joan Engebretson contributed to this report.

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