Eighty years ago, the rise of rural electric cooperatives changed the everyday lives of Iowans by bringing electricity to the farm.
Today, Maquoketa Valley Electric Cooperative (MVEC) is drawing on that same spirit of innovation as we bring state-of-the-art technology to our members. MVlink, a service of MVEC, is a high-speed fiber optic communications network that is breaching the tech frontier for our rural customers. We will now be able to offer significantly higher bandwidth to accommodate robust video, Internet and voice services to meet the daily demands of our “plugged in” members. We are proud to be one of the first rural electric cooperatives in the country to offer fiber technology.
In an area where Internet connections were only available through expensive hot spots and cellphone service was spotty at best, our members were rightfully frustrated to be stalled on the side of the Information Superhighway. Because of our investment, MVEC can meet that need.
And what’s more, the addition of fiber benefits the cooperative, too. The fiber cable itself is much stronger than overhead power lines and won’t be prone to outages caused by weather events, trees or car accidents. The cooperative initially wanted to boost our smart grid efforts by having more reliable communication between our members’ meters, the substations, our line equipment and our office. It just so happened that in doing so, we could also offer high speed Internet to our members.
Right now, the first phase of construction that started in November 2016 is about 75 percent complete. Phase 2 began in late June and to date 300 miles of fiber line has been installed. The response from our members has been overwhelmingly positive, and we regularly field calls and inquiries about when the project will be available in their area. As an economic development tool, the availability of high speed Internet in rural Iowa can help attract and retain business, easily serve those members who work from home, and provide schoolchildren with much needed access to online study resources.
When all is said and done, our investment in bringing high speed Internet to rural Iowa will ensure our communities have the potential to grow and prosper for the next 80 years.
Jim Lauzon, CEO Maquoketa Valley Electric Cooperative
Jeremy Richert, COO FiberMaquoketa Valley Electric Cooperative