Ozark, Ark. – WAVE Rural Connect, a subsidiary of Arkansas Valley Electric Cooperative Corporation (AVECC), is proud to announce a partnership with the city of Charleston, Arkansas, to provide high-speed fiber broadband within the city limits. Construction of the zone will start immediately, with service expected to be available in late 2022.
AVECC’s electric grid encompasses the city, allowing WAVE to easily support 1,100 homes within Charleston while continuing to provide service to AVECC members across the River Valley. WAVE is the only fiber to the home provider to offer services to rural homes and businesses to the area, including Charleston.
“Watching our project expand to communities outside of our electric footprint thrills us,” said Al Simpson, AVECC CEO and a member of WAVE’s Board of Directors. “To have the chance to carry out our motto ‘Changing the Communities We Serve’ and partner with a community like Charleston is exciting.”
Together, AVECC and WAVE are committed to closing the digital divide in the region. “Bringing world-class fiber internet service to Charleston residents demonstrates WAVE’s capability to accomplish the state’s goal of serving rural Arkansans with broadband access,” said Barret Ewing, AVECC Director of Engineering and Operations.
In September 2021, WAVE received $1.2 million from AR Rural Connect (ARC), a grant program created by Governor Hutchinson to help expand the broadband footprint in rural Arkansas. The Charleston partnership fits the structure of the ARC program, geared toward serving incorporated communities with at least 500 people.
Charleston residents will be the first non-members to receive access to WAVE service. To date, approximately 17,000 AVECC members have access to WAVE fiber broadband; upon project completion, the electric cooperative and its fiber subsidiary will deliver access to 100% of co-op members.
“Being a small part of bringing WAVE to my hometown is truly special,” said lifelong Charleston resident Brandon Fisher, AVECC Technology and Communications Director. “It will be game-changing for fellow Charleston residents as well as WAVE.”
Charleston Mayor Tabitha Hester shares Fisher’s excitement about WAVE’s decision to make Charleston a leading community to bring fiber to every home in the River Valley.
“The City of Charleston is grateful for the opportunity to bring high-speed broadband service to our community. The impact of this infrastructure goes beyond the monthly cost savings, reliable access, or streaming your favorite television show. Now more than ever, greater broadband availability leads to economic growth,” Hester said. “Statistically, almost 50% of the workforce is now remote. This flexibility allows employees to live in localities other than major metropolitan areas. Charleston has already realized this trend with the relocation of several out-of-state homeowners. Attracting new residents attracts new businesses, creates more jobs, increases the tax base, which translates to better streets, schools, and parks for the residents of Charleston. The power of fast, reliable internet is limitless.”
Fiber to the home in Charleston will look different from WAVE’s existing network construction, as Charleston construction will be underground.
“Most of our fiber project for AVECC members has been aerial cabling to this point,” Ewing explained. “Our main line fiber is hosted on AVECC-owned infrastructure. Since OG&E supplies Charleston homes, WAVE will hire additional crews to place fiber underground in Charleston. Aerial and underground projects require two different types of construction, so we will not be taking any crews away from our existing fiber project.”
WAVE General Manager Ben Roe echoed his team’s excitement about the partnership and project. “Serving our communities, families, neighbors, and friends with the fastest, most reliable and affordable internet will change the way Charleston residents live their daily lives,” he said.
For more information about WAVE, please visit www.waveruralconnect.com or call 479-213-2176.