Escambia Again Selects EREC For North Escambia Fiber Internet :

The Escambia County Commission has once again selected Escambia River Electric Cooperative (EREC) with their partner firm Conexon Connect to provide high speed fiber internet to North Escambia.

The county initially accepted proposals to provide fiber to homes north of 10 Mile Road and approved entering into a memorandum of understanding with Escambia River Electric Cooperative in late November. Cox Communications retained a law firm and filed a formal protest against the award.

Escambia County regrouped, deciding to resolicit bids, narrowing its service area north of Muscogee Road. Cox declined to compete in the second round, saying the new area was too far from their existing fiber network in Cantonment.

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Two companies submitted proposals and were heard by the commission Thursday morning: IBT PCS and Conexon Connect in partnership with EREC.

The commission voted 4-1, with Commissioner Mike Kohler voting no, to negotiate a memorandum of understanding with EREC.

Commissioner Steven Barry said EREC, a member-owned electric cooperative, had the clear competitive advantage because they already have the infrastructure in place. For any other company, the construction cost would be significantly higher with a 5-10 year build out, he said, to get fiber to all homes.

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IBT proposed nearly 110 miles of underground fiber, but using wireless technology to reach about 2,000 homes. EREC proposed almost 600 miles of fiber, including 175 miles underground, with fiber serving every home and business, over 4,000 of them, in their territory, “for a significant county contribution,” Barry said.

Escambia County has donated $10 million in federal American Rescue Plan dollars toward the project north of Muscogee Road with the company that owns and operates the network. Another $12 million has been pledged for a second phase south of Muscogee Road. The funds are aimed at providing broadband internet to underserved and underserved residents.

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Fiber connections to district facilities will be provided in both phases.

EREC plans to offer symmetrical speeds from 100 Mbps to 2 Gig at a price ranging from $49.95 to $99.95 per month. will continue to cover North Escambia area broadband issues.

Pictured: Escambia River Electric Cooperative CEO Ryan Campbell addresses the Escambia County Commission Thursday. Image for, click to enlarge.


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