OzarksGo Announces Details For Phase One Locations and Internet Service Offering June 29, 2016

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

Fayetteville, Ark. – OzarksGo, LLC, a telecommunications subsidiary of Ozarks Electric Cooperative, today announced location details for the first phase of construction of its fiber-to-the-home network, as well as details on its Internet service offering.

Ozarks Electric members served by Farmington, Fayetteville West, Eddie Walker and Tontitown substations will soon be able to sign up for service, which the company hopes to begin later this year. This includes areas such as western Fayetteville, parts of western Springdale, Farmington and Tontitown. A map of phase one locations can be found below.

Members in phase one will soon start receiving subscription packets and information, and are encouraged to call 479-684-4900 to confirm their location. An online sign-up form will also be available shortly. People interested in OzarksGo who are not currently members may still sign-up to express interest in service, once the form is available.

“We are really excited about today’s announcement. It means we’re getting closer to the start of construction,” said Randy Klindt, general manager of OzarksGo.

“There are a number of factors that were considered in determining locations. We considered total cost, cost per home or business, potential subscribers, electric cooperative communication needs and office locations,” said Klindt. “Areas selected had to be near our existing fiber optic network.”

“We are not stopping there though. We will build to all of our service territory as soon as possible.”

In addition to phase one locations, the company today also announced details regarding its Internet service offering. The company will offer two Internet packages: Basic and Gigabit.

Basic will offer up to 100 megabits per second (Mbps), upload and download speed, with no data caps, for $49.95 per month. The Gigabit offering will offer up to 1,000 Mbps, upload and download speed, with no data caps, for $79.95 per month.

Pricing for television and telephone services will be announced at a later date.

“By offering two Internet options with straightforward pricing, our subscribers can easily find a service that is right for their needs and their budget,” said Klindt.

“Not only is our offering competitive in terms of speed and reliability, our region finally has a truly affordable Internet option where people will get what they pay for.”

OzarksGo, LLC, is a wholly-owned telecommunications subsidiary of Ozarks Electric, offering all-fiber gigabit Internet and television and telephone services to Northwest Arkansas and Northeast Oklahoma. Learn more about OzarksGo at www.ozarksgo.net.

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Press Contacts:
Penny Storms
479-684-4640
press@ozarksecc.com

Let's Talk About Bandwidth June 14, 2016

What is bandwidth and how important is it in today’s world?

Bandwidth is defined as the maximum rate that information can be transferred, and is commonly measured in bits per second. With all of the changes in how we use the Internet, most people find that they need more bandwidth than they currently have.

Some even need more bandwidth than is currently offered by their providers.

But how much bandwidth do you actually need? There is some good information out there that shows recommended connection speeds, but it’s important to consider that those speeds are only for one thing at one time.


Source: Netflix.com

Picture this: imagine you have roommates, or children, and everybody wants Internet access at the same time, on their own devices. Maybe one wants to play games online. Maybe another is browsing Instagram and Facebook. Another is streaming Netflix. In addition, everyone’s mobile is connected to the Wi-Fi network, receiving alerts and text messages, using up your bandwidth.

So just how much bandwidth you need might be a little more difficult to figure out than you might think.

It’s also important to consider all the other people on your street, or in your town. Bandwidth is a shared resource, so the more people who are online at any given time, the less there is for you. Around 8:00 pm on a Saturday night might prove a difficult time to stream a movie or get together with friends for online gaming.

It won’t be an issue with fiber and its immense bandwidth capacity.

A good way to think of bandwidth is, coincidentally, electricity. You use electricity to power devices in your home. You don't purchase enough electric service to power just one device in your home. Instead, you purchase enough capacity to power everything you might use at any given time.

It is important to note that your internet connection has two speeds that matter. Most providers offer faster download speeds than upload speeds. Upload speed is often dramatically slower than the download speed in most plans. If someone in your household uploads photos to Facebook, puts videos on YouTube or uses Skype for video calls, upload speed and reliability is extremely important. 

The fact is, most of us have experienced bandwidth lag – that moment when we realize our service just isn’t keeping up with our usage.

OzarksGo is here to eliminate lag. Experts say that current problems with bandwidth will generally go away with download speeds above 50 Mpbs. But you can expect that bandwidth needs will only increase in the future, as Ultra HD streams, which require 25 Mbps, become the only way to watch, and even more devices in your home connect to the internet (think appliances, security systems and more). 

With OzarksGo, you’ll never have to think about bandwidth speeds – or your Internet – again.

Rural America: You Deserve Better May 18, 2016

Why doesn’t rural America have access to affordable, reliable and robust broadband? This is the $4.5-billion-dollar-per-year question, both literally and figuratively. Let’s ask the subsidized telecommunications companies, who take that amount each year in government funding.

They say, “It costs too much. Density is needed and it’s just not there in rural America. There are topographical barriers. If ‘those people’ want broadband, they should move. They don’t really need or want fast speeds.”

But my personal favorite is, “It would be too costly to bring broadband to rural areas.”

Trust me, I’ve heard the “it costs too much” argument more times than I could count. I’ve heard it from the federal government, industry people and I’ve heard it from just about everyone you can imagine. If I had a dollar for every time I’ve heard it, I’d be able to build fiber to every American. It’s a ridiculous argument. The question we should be asking is, “Doesn’t it cost too much not to provide the opportunities that come with broadband to every American?”

The premise of “it costs too much” is false. The reality is there isn’t enough profit involved to make it an attractive venture, so rural Americans are left without broadband. Today 39% of those residing in rural areas still lack access to broadband. That’s four out of ten people.

Unbelievable, isn’t it?

I’ve never been a person that has accepted that something can’t be done just because someone, or in this case many, says it can’t be done. It can be done. It has been done. It takes the will to want it. It takes creative thinking, creative planning, and creative implementation. It also takes the mindset that it isn’t going to be a quick and easy profit.

I don’t believe community leaders in the 1930s and 1940s began the quest to electrify rural America thinking they would get rich off the profits. They knew electricity was needed, and they knew it was needed to make America great. They knew it vital to the survival and success of their communities. They did it for the love of their communities.

Today we are at the exact same place. Former Senator Jay Rockefeller said it well. “It's a necessity. A county without any Internet capacity in modern America is a lost county for the future.” Rural communities, rural Americans, deserve, need and want affordable, reliable and robust broadband.

America established the world’s first formal blueprint for a modern democracy, the U.S. Constitution. We mass-produced the first automobile. We were first in flight. We put a man on the moon. Think about that. And two years ago NASA was able to connect the Moon to Earth at speeds of 622 Mbps. I believe if we can bring robust broadband to the moon, surely we can bring it to rural America.

So to the naysayers of rural broadband, I say, “Here we go.”



Alyssa Roberts
is the Vice President of Marketing & Member Relations at Ozarks Electric Cooperative. For the last 10-plus years, she has been helping bring true broadband access to rural America.

Vendor & Supplier Requests May 11, 2016

If you or your company are interested in participating in our project as a vendor or supplier, we have set up a dedicated email address to use for inquiries and communication.

Please send all vendor-related inquires to vendor@ozarksgo.net.

When emailing, please submit contact information including any website links, what you are interested in providing, and a brief description of their company.

 

 

 

 

 

A Game-Changing Offering May 5, 2016

We have been truly overwhelmed by the response to OzarksGo. We definitely share in your excitement, and cannot wait to start providing fiber-to-the-home (FTTH) services to our communities. One of the biggest questions we know most people have is, "what does FTTH actually mean, and why is it important?" We thought we might help shed some light on this kind of game-changing technology and the benefits it offers.

The Fiber Difference

FTTH basically means that a fiber optic cable, which carries Internet, TV and telephone services, runs directly into your home. How is this different from what you may have now? It's pretty simple. Most likely, your current provider uses fiber optic cable, but only reaching a pedestal or hub in your neighborhood. Maybe even farther.

Then, a copper wire carries service to a box on the outside of your home, and then to ports/jacks inside, where you connect your devices. This is where significant Internet speed and reliability is lost. Fiber optic cables are made of glass and contain many strands, which makes the capacity almost limitless. Copper cables have been around more than 100 years and aren’t built for today’s needs. They are also susceptible to signal deterioration due to age and environmental conditions.

With FTTH, the fiber optic cable runs into your home and directly to a device called an optical network terminal (ONT). The ONT then provides service directly to your devices. There is no changing of wires or cables during this process. So, in essence, you're getting game changing Internet speeds, full HD television and crystal clear phone reception, through a single cable, directly into your home.



The fiber optic cable runs directly from our network hub sites, located at substations across our service area, directly into your home and to the ONT.

Click the above image for a larger view.



Speed & Reliability Matter

Have you ever tried to stream a movie or upload a large file, only to be frustrated with the lack of consistent speed, or slow speeds altogether? We’ve all been there. Most local Internet options include speeds that range from less than 10 megabytes per second (Mbps) to 300 Mbps. Upload speeds are a different story, however. So are data caps.

For comparison, FTTH allows us to provide up to 1,000 Mbps, or a gigabit, download and upload speeds, with no data caps. As an example of why speed matters, if you tried to download an average-size high-definition movie (4 GB) with DSL (3 Mbps), it would take roughly an hour to download. With gigabit, it would only take around 30 seconds.

And gigabit is just the starting point. The network we are building will be capable of much faster speeds.

It’s also not just your speeds that will increase with FTTH. Worrying about reliability of your Internet connection will also be a thing of the past, since age or environmental issues don’t affect fiber. Our active management of demand and bandwidth needs will help sure that our subscribers to never think about their Internet quality again.

Quite simply, it will just work. And will be the best Internet experience you’ve ever had.

About OzarksGo April 20, 2016

We can't wait to bring fast, reliable Internet and other premium services to our region. We also know that you probably have a lot of questions about OzarksGo. Please find more information below, which can hopefully give you a better understanding of what this offering all about. 

What is OzarksGo?

OzarksGo, LLC, is a telecommunications subsidiary of Ozarks Electric Cooperative, offering all-fiber gigabit Internet and premium television and telephone services to Northwest Arkansas and Northeast Oklahoma.

Why are you creating this company and offering this service?

By connecting our substations and offices with fiber-optic cable, we will create a truly “smart” grid that will provide us with more down line automation capabilities, ultimately increasing the reliability of our electric service to members.

Also, this endeavor falls in line with our purpose - “powering communities and empowering members”. Broadband is the electricity of the 1930s and 1940s. Remember, in 1930, fewer than 10% of farms had access to electricity. In 2016, 53% of Americans lack access to broadband (as defined by FCC - 25 mbps download speed and 3 mbps upload speed). Much like we did with electricity in 1938, we’re going to provide real, affordable broadband to Northwest Arkansas and Northeast Oklahoma.

How much will the project cost?

The investment in the region will be about $25-$35 million per phase.

Will electric rates be going up because of this?

No, electric rates will not be going up because of the fiber deployment. Ozarks Electric Cooperative will own the fiber and be able to utilize the fiber for its own electric grid communications and management. OzarksGo and Ozarks Electric are two separate organizations and all costs and revenues will be separated appropriately. 

OzarksGo will cover all the costs of fiber through revenues received. OzarksGo will be a self-sufficient company.

Can everyone get it? Do you have to be a member of Ozarks Electric Cooperative? What if I have a different electric provider?

Our plan is to roll the fiber network out to all members. Remember, we serve more than 7,000 miles of line, so this will not happen overnight. Additionally, neighboring communities, or homes surrounded by our electrical network may also receive fiber service from OzarksGo. We truly believe that by offering this to everyone in the region, we succeed as a region.

How long will it take?

Since we serve more than 7,000 miles of line, this will take some time. The entire build out will take several years. Our plan right now is to begin with a portion of our territory, and then as we begin signing up subscribers, continue to build out from there.

Who is getting service first? And how was that decided?

While we are not ready to announce our first build location, that information will be coming soon and we recommend checking out our website for updates. A number of factors are considered as we decide build-out order. We will consider density, total cost, cost per home or business passed, number of potential subscribers, cooperative communication needs, office locations and revenue projections. Areas selected for the first phase had to be near our existing fiber optic network.

When will service start?

We hope to be offering service within the next 12 months.

What will service cost?

Pricing information is not yet available, but will be extremely competitive. We encourage everyone to continue to check out our website for updates.

Is OzarksGo part of the cooperative? How will it affect the cooperative?

OzarksGo, LLC, is a 100% owned subsidiary of Ozarks Electric Cooperative. It is a separate company, and therefore managed separately from the cooperative. OzarksGo was created to benefit the membership, the cooperative organization and the electric grid. Its purpose is to provide a truly "smart" electrical grid, offer true broadband to members and improve communication services in the region.

Who is managing OzarksGo?

Randy Klindt is the General Manager of OzarksGo. Randy comes to us from Co-Mo Electric Cooperative in Missouri. Under Randy, Co-Mo built the largest to date fiber project owned by an electric cooperative in the country. At Co-Mo, Randy managed a successful project that has made fiber and gigabit Internet service available to more than 35,000 homes and businesses in Central Missouri.

What kind of economic development impact will there be? Will there be any new jobs?

It is too early to speculate how much of an economic development impact this will have on Northwest Arkansas and Northeast Oklahoma. We do know that competition is good for consumers. For too long this region has been plagued with either a lack of true broadband availability or a lack of reliable and affordable service. This project will bring real broadband to some area residents and businesses for the first time.

Imagine having the fastest Internet in the world and having no limits. Like other areas of the country have shown, we believe that having access to limitless, fast and affordable service will attract new and high tech businesses. OzarksGo will be adding new positions. During the first year we expect to add around 10 positions and many more over the next six years.

What kinds of services will you offer?

We plan to offer broadband (including true gigabit speeds), telephone and television services. All broadband services will be symmetrical, meaning the upload speeds will be equal to the download speeds. Small and medium businesses will also be offered services, including gigabit services as well as private dedicated circuits between facilities. Large businesses will be offered dedicated Internet access and dark fiber services.

Why is fiber special?

Fiber optic infrastructure is virtually “future proof.” The technology is rapidly advancing to meet the future needs of bandwidth demands of residential and business consumers. A single strand of fiber can carry upwards of 40 gigabits per second and with multiple light colors, the capacity can reach 9,600 gigabits.

Each fiber optic cable contains many strands, which makes the capacity almost limitless.

What is gigabit? And who needs it?

A gigabit is 1,000 megabits per second. To put in perspective, Yahoo describes having 10-15 mbps of download speed as average. That’s similar to having a car that can only go up to 65 mph on the highway. Gigabit is nearly 100 times faster than the typical household Internet connection.

Having a gigbit connection means multiple users can be using the Internet to watch videos, play games, research, work, do homework and whatever else they want, all at the same time, without having to wait for your device to finish buffering. Gigabit means instantaneous access to almost anything you want to access on the Internet. With gigabit service you will no longer think about the speed of your Internet connection.

Ozarks Electric Cooperative Announces Telecommunications Subsidiary; Names Randy Klindt General Manager April 19, 2016

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

Fayetteville, Ark. – Ozarks Electric Cooperative today announced the creation of OzarksGo, LLC, a 100% owned telecommunications subsidiary offering high-speed Internet, television and telephone services to subscribers in northwest Arkansas and northeast Oklahoma.

OzarksGo will offer subscribers access to all-fiber gigabit Internet, reaching speeds of up to one gigabit per second download and upload, with no data limits or restrictions. Premium television and telephone services will be available as well.

Randy Klindt has been named general manager of OzarksGo, and will oversee operations, including construction and ongoing management of the business.

“The formation of this subsidiary is incredibly exciting for all of us,” said Mitchell Johnson, president/CEO of Ozarks Electric. “I believe we are in a unique position to continue fulfilling our purpose, offering members access to tools, like high-speed Internet, that can truly empower them to improve the quality of their lives.”

Johnson continued, “In addition, I am thrilled that Randy will be leading this project. His unprecedented success in the telecommunications field speaks for itself.”

Over his 20-year career, Klindt has amassed a great wealth of knowledge and experience in the telecommunications industry, most recently serving as general manager of Co-Mo Connect, a subsidiary of Co-Mo Electric Cooperative, in Tipton, Mo.

Under Klindt’s leadership, Co-Mo Connect launched the first gigabit residential service in rural America in 2014 and has become the standard of rural fiber optic builds. It was also the nation’s first privately funded cooperative telecommunications initiative to serve every one of its members, with more than 14,000 current subscribers.

“For far too long, this area has been plagued with either a lack of true broadband availability or lack of reliable and affordable service. This project will bring real broadband to some area residents and businesses for the first time, as well as introduce real competition in speed, reliability and price to a region held captive by large national carriers,” said Klindt.

Klindt continued, “I am extremely excited for this opportunity. Not only will the Internet we provide be the fastest available anywhere in the world, it will be delivered with the Ozarks Electric tradition of reliability, affordability and excellent service.”

Members are encouraged to visit OzarksGo’s website at www.ozarksgo.net for further updates. More details will be announced at a later date.

Ozarks Electric, incorporated in 1938, is a member-owned electric cooperative, serving more than 70,000 meters across nine counties in northwest Arkansas and northeast Oklahoma. For more information about Ozarks Electric, visit the cooperative’s website at www.ozarksecc.com.

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Press Contacts:
Alyssa Roberts
479-684-4954 
press@ozarksecc.com