For many in the Camelot subdivision and Bigsby Creek Road area of Bradley County, it will be an early Christmas.Residents in those areas will be able to connect to internet service through an …
For many in the Camelot subdivision and Bigsby Creek Road area of Bradley County, it will be an early Christmas.
Residents in those areas will be able to connect to internet service through an agreement reached by Volunteer Energy Cooperative and Twin Lakes. The partnership was officially announced Wednesday near the entrance to Camelot.
Volunteer Energy Cooperative hosted the digital ribbon-cutting ceremony for its new fiber-optic broadband service. The partnership between VEC and Twin Lakes Telephone Cooperative will provide gigabit internet service, digital TV and telephone service to its membership.
According to David Murphy, vice president of Marketing and Economic Development for VEC, the utility is currently conducting a broadband pilot in the area around its Hopewell Substation. This pilot is meant to measure the operational feasibility of its new service.
Approximately 140 homes on Bigsby Creek Road, Rabbit Valley Road, and inside the Camelot subdivision have had service available since the beginning of this week. Anyone wanting to subscribe can do so on www.vec-twinlakes.com.
VEC will be responsible for maintaining the fiber infrastructure, while Twin Lakes will be providing the data and digital content. In simpler terms, VEC will provide the fiber optics to the home/business, and Twin Lakes will provide the service in the home or business.
"We are excited to be partnering with VEC and be in Bradley County," said Melissa Mitchell, Twin Lakes customer operations manager. She stated that Camelot does have internet service, but the Bigsby Creek area only has dial-up service.
For those members of VEC who do not live in the pilot area, VEC has applied for three grants from the state to aid with construction in additional areas. The areas currently being considered for expansion include Birchwood in Hamilton County, Spring Creek in McMinn County, and Ten Mile in Meigs County.
Anyone interested in having service but who does not live in one of the proposed project areas can also visit www.vec-twinlakes.com to be added to a wait list.
"You can go to that site and type in your address, and that is how we will gauge the interest level of the service," Mitchell said.
Interest is already growing in the pilot areas, including the sign-ups this week. One day before Wednesday's announcement, two residences were signed up for the service.
State Rep. Kevin Brooks, who attended Wednesday's announcement, said a motorist from Birchwood drove up to him that day, asking if he could be in the pilot program.
Providing this service to areas that need broadband access was an issue presented to both the Tennessee Senate and House. Brooks said it's important for the service to be available, for a multitude of reasons.
"What a great Christmas gift for Bradley County," Brooks said. "This was a direct result of what our constituents and the residents in Bradley County wanted us to do.
"We said this in session — broadband service is no longer a wish, it is a necessity," Brookds added. "It's a utility. It is just as important to our homes in Bradley County as power and water and light and phone. It is right there with those services."
Both State Sen. Mike Bell and State Rep. Dan Howell were at legislative meetings in Nashville on Wednesday, and were unable to be at the announcement. Howell did send a statement concerning the agreement.
"We fought hard in the Legislature to get it to this point," Howell said. "I am so glad to see VEC step up with this pilot program in their effort to provide broadband device to their rural service area. This is a giant step forward."
"There is a great need in Bradley County for those who do not have broadband service, and I can't imagine living without it," said Jonathan West, general manager/CEO for Twin Lakes. "We will be first in the market to some residents in this area."
VEC and Twin Lakes plan on having their first home online by Friday.
• Service options include the following: 25 Mbps up / 5Mbps down - $49.99; 250 Mbps up / 100 Mbps down - $64.99; 1 Gig up / 250 Mbps down - $79.99; basic TV - $28.99; expanded TV - $76.99 (there are premium channels and services available at an additional cost); basic phone - $18.00 + E911 ($1.16); and premium phone - $39.99 + E911 ($1.16). Customers selecting two service options will receive a free Kindle, while those selecting all three service options will receive a free Kindle and a $6 per month bundled discount. Eligible customers can see all pricing options on www.vec-twinlakes.com.
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