January 22, 2024
Booker T. Washington once said, “Nothing ever comes to one that is worth having, except as a result of hard work.” For three intense years, that is what we have done – worked hard. For many months, and at times seven days a week, our team invested their time and talents to complete an incredibly challenging task of building a fiber-to-the-premises network for every member of CHEC. This project provides high-speed internet and phone services to many who have gone without.
In October 2020, the Board of Trustees voted to begin this tremendous project. The engineering of the network started in January of 2021, and by October 2021, Cookson Hills Connect, our wholly owned subsidiary of CHEC, successfully connected the first fiber-to-the-home subscriber. We are excited to say that we have completed the fiber backbone construction of our entire network. By the end of January 2024, we were able to offer high-speed fiber-to-the-premises and voice services to every member of CHEC. That means almost 19,000 locations that did not have access to 1-gigabit symmetrical speed fiberoptic internet now have access to one of the most elite systems in the state, and it was accomplished in only three years, thanks to the hard work of many.
Throughout this process, we contributed to the economic development of our rural areas and communities. Many temporary construction jobs were created, which has led to permanent placement of positions for local folks through contractors. And because of this project, CHEC has hired twelve permanent skilled positions, with more to come.
To date, we have almost 6,000 connected subscribers, with hundreds more signed up and awaiting fiber installation to their homes or businesses. And that number grows daily.
And it’s not the only work we have been doing. In 2023, we also completed right-of-way clearing for all lines on our Porum and Muldrow Substations. This project resulted in the trimming and/or clearing of 409 miles of rights-of-way. Crews are working to clear lines on the Stigler Substation in 2024. We also completed pole replacements and upgrades of 17% of our poles. The pole replacements removed many old or rotting poles and replaced them with stronger poles, helping us mitigate the loss of poles due to wind and wintery weather. As our system has endured major winds throughout the last year, we saw proof that these two projects have helped reduce outages significantly across our system. This equates to a safer system with fewer outages and improved reliability.
As we close out 2023 and embark on a new year, we take a moment to pause and reflect. Pele, a Brazilian soccer player, said, “Success is no accident. It is hard work, perseverance, learning, studying, sacrifice, and most of all, love of what you are doing or learning to do.” Here at CHEC, this sums up our team. We will continue to work hard, persevere, prioritize safety, and become better educated to understand our evolving industry. We will continue doing what we love: serving you, our members. May you have a happy and blessed 2024!