GOLDEN TRIANGLE, Miss. (WCBI)- You can’t live without it. It’s not food, water, or a home; it’s internet service. 4-County Electric Power Association started offering internet service to members in rural areas. Some people like Merrie Felder find there is a downside to living outside the city limits, finding affordable, and reliable internet service can be difficult. Felder tried another provider before switching to FastNet by 4-County but wasn’t thrilled by the results.
“It’s so important especially with young people needing internet my grandkids had visited me a year ago and they were complaining that I had poor internet so when they came this time a couple of months ago they were really excited about it and it’s affordable,” said Felder.
Public Relations and Marketing Manager Jon Turner and the 4-County team received a grant through the Mississippi Cares Act and decided to use the money to venture into a new service for members.
“We got about six million dollars from the state and we pitched in about seven million to get started. We did that and got off the ground really in October we started laying fiber we started hooking up our first customer in December and nowhere in July we’ve got about 1,100 customers hooked up,” said Turner.
Just like the 4-County crew had to undergo extensive training to lay electric lines, they’ve done just as much for internet installs.
“We find out things every day that we didn’t know the day before. There are many things in the internet world that we weren’t aware of. Fiber optics is something we weren’t aware of the technology, the hardware, the networking, the IT infrastructure all things we had to get knowledgeable with and we could not have done it without expert consultants that we leaned on during this process,” said CEO of 4-County Brian Clark.
COVID-19 isolated many, but through that experience, 4 County found a better way to connect people.
“Covid has really shown how important it is that everybody is connected and it’s especially important for those rural areas in our service territory where people don’t have reliable or speedy internet and they’ve got to do the same thing that the folks in town have to do,” said Turner.
FastNet isn’t available to all members yet, but 4 County is confident that they will have full coverage in the near future.
“The ultimate goal is to officer internet service to all of our 4 county members and we have a plan to do that by early 2024,” said Turner.
If anyone is interested in getting the new internet service contact the 4-County office.