DMEA Board Votes To Get Into Internet Business

Dec 30, 2015

The Delta Montrose Electrical Association made a big decision this week about its plans for fiber optic internet.

Credit Laura Palmisano / KVNF

DMEA's board of directors voted Tuesday night to get into the internet business. The electrical co-op has been considering high-speed, fiber optic internet for a while, but now they are officially going for it.

Virginia Harman is in charge of DMEA’s member relations.

“Our DMEA board of directors voted unanimously for DMEA to proceed with a ‘fiber to the home and business’ project,” says Harman.

‘Fiber to the home’ is the key part. The DMEA board was, for a long time, considering being the middle mile, just bringing fiber optic to specific areas, and letting private companies run the last stretch into homes.

Now, they’ve decided to be the middle mile and the last mile. They’ll be running line directly to homes and businesses, becoming an internet service provider.

“It is momentous. It really sets the future path for our cooperative and a lot has gone into it,” says Harman.

She says member demand was one of the big reasons they decided to start providing internet access. An overwhelming majority of polled members say high-speed internet is an important quality of life factor, and over half say they’d be interested in signing up for DMEA internet.

Still, an electrical co-op becoming an internet provider is a big change, and Harmon says they don’t want to ignore their obligation to the members of the co-op.

“As we go into each phase,” she says, “we’ll be able to minimize our risk by making sure we only building phases once we’ve met certain take-rates and things like that. We aren’t going to jump in 100 percent, it’s going to be phase by phase.”

The first phase will be a pilot program, where a small cluster of homes and businesses will have fiber optic. That area is unknown, for now.