SEC understands the importance of Broadband in our communities, which is why here at SEC, there is a sense of eagerness to work with any company that is looking to provide internet in our service territory. We do this by allowing companies to attach to SEC poles. As with all companies that SEC has worked with in the past, the same standards are used to maintain system integrity for all received requests. SEC proudly announces that we have successfully worked with 18 companies to provide over 13,000 pole attachments.
Maintaining system reliability and rate affordability are some of SEC's top priorities. We know that SEC's service territory is susceptible to extreme weather events; therefore, maintaining a well-designed and resilient grid is of utmost importance for SEC members when working with companies during this process. SEC hires an independent engineering firm to conduct a full assessment of the poles that need an attachment, as this does add extra weight to them. Due to this extra weight, certain poles will need to be upgraded if clearance requirements are impeded, or the pole cannot handle the additional weight load. SEC members do not absorb the cost of these replacements as this is paid for by the provider attaching to the pole.
Why does SEC not provide Broadband?
SEC has conducted four feasibility studies, as recent as 2022, to determine if this is financially feasible for our members. All four studies have shown that the Cooperative members would have to take on significant financial risk. While SEC has chosen not to pursue Broadband directly, we will continue to work with companies pursuing their own systems.
The most recent feasibility study showed that it would cost SEC $320,000,000 to complete a Broadband project. We have a dedicated CEO that works every day to keep your Cooperative financially stable in all decisions that are made.
What else has SEC done to help bring broadband to the communities?
In 2020, SEC issued a Request for Information to all internet service providers included in the governor's office network of providers. This was an invitation for wireless providers to utilize communication towers. SEC received three responses, all of which ceased inquiries once a mapping file was received showing SEC's density.
In 2021, SEC supported many counties in our service territory by writing letters of recommendation and support for their Virginia Telecommunications Initiative (VATI) grant requests.
In 2022, SEC evaluated a middle-mile fiber project similar to Dominion and other larger utilities in the Commonwealth of Virginia. We were actively looking for partners, which included one of the more active ISPs involved in these projects around the state. Similar to the RFI outcome, none chose to proceed once looking at our service territory's mapping file and related density.
In 2022, SEC also worked with CVEC (Firefly) on siting a telecommunications hut on SEC property to help bring broadband to Powhatan County.
What is a pole attachment, and why is it important?