Over the past year, we have authored, posted, podcasted, and presented on broadband to anyone who would listen. I am happy to announce, it’s finally here! On July 14, we launched our broadband subsidiary SwiftCurrent Connect: Broadband Powered by PPCS. The response we have received over the past year has been nothing short of amazing. We have quickly learned that starting an internet service and broadband business doesn’t happen overnight and it doesn’t happen without working together with many individuals. For the many members, community leaders, consultants, and colleagues who have helped us get to this point, a big thank you!
The first question many may ask, “When can I get service?” We would love to snap our fingers and answer, “Tomorrow.” The reality is, we have 800 miles of fiber to build and it’s going to take some time to get everyone served. We are working at the speed of light to make sure that we deliver fiber as quickly and efficiently as possible. Our first phase will serve from south of River Falls down towards Beldenville into the north side of Ellsworth. We will also have service running west from Ellsworth towards Prescott with several areas north and south of Highway 10. We also plan to build east of Ellsworth connecting our El Paso substation. A full map is included on the inside back cover of the August issue of Wisconsin Energy Cooperative News for PPCS members.
This is an historic moment in Pierce Pepin Cooperative Services’ history. We fundamentally are an electric cooperative, but we have always seen ourselves as part of our community and one that provides essential services to our members. Broadband has become an essential service for our members. The ability to be connected allows for us to work from home, educate our children, do telemedicine, and expand our opportunities.
Some might look around and question why we are doing this. Frankly, there is no other local company that is willing to invest in our members’ future. And if we are true to our word about helping our members Live Better, broadband should be part of our DNA. Over the past year, our board and staff have been thoroughly investigating options, including winning WI PSC Broadband Expansion grants, investigating potential partnerships, and listening to our membership. In providing this service, our goal is to ensure every member in our service area has access to high-speed broadband.
Our network will be a fiber to the home solution end to end. Fiber is a long-term solution and will allow for us to grow with technology changes. We aren’t taking shortcuts. This will be a resilient system that provides at minimum 100/100 Mbps service to members with the ability to get Gigabit level speeds at 1000/1000 Mbps. In other words, members will be able to download and upload content to the internet at the same speed. No more issues with streaming videos, connecting with video conference calls, or just checking your email. Our service will allow your entire family to connect without having to fight over bandwidth.
For many of our members, this will be the first time they have ever had access to the internet. For many others, this will be a significant upgrade from DSL, satellite, or troublesome fixed wireless. We won’t limit your data usage; we want you to use our service. We also believe our service will be affordable with rates that are comparable to prices in larger communities. Service will start at $69.95 a month with phone service being available for an additional $25/month with an internet plan.
We are not interested in promotional offerings, only to jack your price up after 12 months. We aren’t fancy marketers or slick salespeople; we are your trusted local cooperative. We want you to sign up, be completely satisfied, and be able to call us if you have any issues with your service. We’re your local provider with the people you know, your neighbors and your friends.
We can’t wait to bring fiber and great internet to our members. To sign up for service go to our website, www.swiftcurrent.coop. If you are included in our first phase, you will be able to select your service offering. Otherwise, please sign up as we will be tracking interest in other areas. By signing up, we will better gauge where to focus for phases two, three, and four.
—Nate Boettcher, President and CEO, Pierce Pepin Cooperative Services