The co-op is continuing work in Pike County to expand wireless coverage and increase speeds. Illinois Electric was one of 30 electric cooperatives nationwide that received funds through the Federal Communications Commission’s (FCC) Connect America Fund Phase II (CAF-II) auction. The funds awarded to the co-op were made available by the FCC specifically for Pike County.
Through CAF Phase II, the FCC provides funding to service providers to subsidize the cost of building new network infrastructure or performing network upgrades to offer voice and broadband service in areas where it is lacking. CAF is a multi-year program, comparable to extending electricity and phone service to rural America early in the twentieth century and building the interstate highway system in the 1950s and ’60s.
The co-op is working with Ericsson and XtremeLTE as technological partners in deploying the infrastructure to make higher wireless speeds possible in Pike County. This expansion is the first carrier-grade technology the co-op has deployed. The new wireless technology is line-of-site but will offer speeds of up to 100 mbp/s for downloads and up to 20 mbp/s for uploads where available.
The co-op will add six new broadcast locations, including south of Atlas, near Chambersburg, north of Pearl, Milton, New Salem, and near Hull, to go along with our existing towers and broadcast sites in the county. Fiber optic cable is being run to towers to increase capacity for subscribers.
The wireless internet project in Pike County is multi-phase and will be completed near the end of 2024. “We’ve hit some speed bumps along the way with Covid and supply chain issues, but we are excited to bring increased internet speeds to the area soon,” said Matt Haverfield, Network Analyst at Illinois Electric.
The higher-speed internet packages are currently only available in the Nebo area. As we deploy more equipment in other places in Pike County to enable faster speeds, we will publish them on our website.