The SVEConnect family is celebrating connecting 5,000 customers in Marion County! Much appreciation is sent to all 5,000 connected for helping us reach such a major milestone. SVEConnect has come a long way since our origin and because of the support of Marion County, we are able to continue that growth.
“SVEConnect was created for our rural members as an investment in our future,” said SVEC President/CEO Mike Partin. “It is a very proud moment for us as we top 5,000 customers served. We thank our customers, appreciate each one and will continue to serve with honest, friendly service and provide reliable, fiber-fast internet to all customers.”
In 2017 Tennessee Legislature passed the Tennessee Broadband Accessibility Act, making it legal for electric cooperatives in the state to offer telecommunications services, such as broadband, to areas not already served by a telephone cooperative. Soon after, Sequachee Valley Electric Cooperative sought to take on that task to bring telecommunication services to Marion County, the only area within SVEC’s service footprint available for a new fiber network, and SVEConnect, a not-for-profit broadband company, was born.
What could have been a daunting and long task of creating a plan, assembling teams, mapping, and all other components that goes into bringing fiber to a rural area, was finished by the SVEConnect team in less than a year.
“We went from zero to testing new customers in less than seven months,” says Manager of Ancillary Services Mike Birdwell. “We were the first electric co-op in the state of Tennessee to connect a customer, that is something we are very proud of and we could not have done without the support of our community.”
Part of the SVEConnect mission is to provide broadband to rural areas that have no access to high-speed internet – areas that profit-seeking companies will not serve because they do not see the value.
“What I love about my job is being able to help folks that nobody else was willing to help,” says Birdwell. “Going to an area you know will never ever have high speed broadband if we do not build it and providing it to them is so meaningful.”
With the constant growth and change of technology in the digital age and new challenges of communicating, working, and attending school from home during a pandemic, high-speed internet and a reliable connection is essential to the common household. Living in a rural area should not mean homes and businesses do not have broadband access as those in larger cities enjoy.
“It is not fair that you would have to move off the family farm just to have broadband to work from home or go to school,” says Mike Birdwell. “We feel lucky to provide this service to our great community.”
As SVEConnect continues to grow, the essential service of high-speed, reliable fiber-optics we will be a driving force in bringing more developments and jobs to Marion County.