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Groundbreaking Texas Fiber Project Reaches 10,000 Subscribers

Randy Sukow

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Groundbreaking Texas Fiber Project Reaches 10,000 Subscribers

United Cooperative Services (UCS) is celebrating 10,000 subscribers to its state-of-the-art fiber optic broadband network serving rural Texas. NRTC has been working closely with UCS on the project since completing a feasibility study in 2018 and sends its congratulations.

NRTC announced the creation of a United Cooperative Services Technology Scholarship in honor of the milestone. Pictured, Marcellus Nixon, UCS VP, Internet Services (left), earlier this week accepted a certificate of the award from NRTC Project Manager Rhonda Folk and Regional Business Manager Matt Timmons.

UCS subscriber numbers have been growing at a rapid pace in 2022. It reached 10,000 subscribers just a little more than a month after passing the 9,000 mark, and is reaching homes and businesses that are experiencing the benefits of broadband connectivity for the first time.

The project has been marked by innovative aspects. UCS was among the early proponents of 10-Gigabit Symmetrical (XGS-PON) technology, which supports 1 Gbps service to the home, expandable to 10 Gbps as demand for faster service emerges in future years.

“We asked, ‘Do we want to use today’s technology, or do we want to invest a little more in the project to provide our members with a better overall experience than our competitors using tomorrow’s technology?’” said UCS CEO and GM Cameron Smallwood in an August 2020 article in RE Magazine (PDF). “It increased the cost of the equipment by 11 percent, but it was the right long-term decision to make for the members.”

NRTC and UCS worked jointly through 2021 on an “operational intelligence platform” to improve the every-day routine of operating the fiber network. The software combines various network data in one place with information from external sources, such as weather reports, social media trends, call centers and billing center data – that affect immediate decisions.

Chris Beatson, chief technology officer for NRTC Managed Services, during a technical session at NRECA’s TechAdvantage in March, described how he and UCS’s Nixon were discussing how they could use a unified informational hub, similar to an electric utility’s SCADA system. “Ever since then, Marcellus and I have been collaborating and figuring out how to get all of this data to a set of easy-to-consume dashboards.”

Nixon, who co-presented at the same session, said, “It’s an honor to be able to build a network from scratch. Many of us never get that opportunity. This is my second time and it’s been a blast.”

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