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BECKER – Sign-up began in mid-October for M-Pulse Fiber’s broadband service, and Monroe County Electric Power Association (MCEPA) General Manager Barry Rowland reported a great first day from those interested in the service.

“Over 100 customers signed up the first day. Over half of them signed up online,” he said.

Rowland responded to the proverbial question of when all of MCEPA’s service area can expect to be connected to broadband service.

“The problem with setting a timeline is that system design is still underway. We’re doing fiber design by substation. Eleven crews are at work splicing the fiber that has been installed to bring the service to individual homes. We’re still measuring poles to see which ones aren’t tall enough and need to be replaced,” Rowland said.

Another event that has rearranged the timeline is the awarding of CARES Act money that is earmarked to provide service to underserved areas but must be spent by the end of December.

The first phase of M-Pulse Fiber’s broadband project will serve north Monroe County out of the Elliott substation alongside Cotton Gin Port Road near Walmart in Amory. A feeder circuit from there will reach out to the Bigbee community and on to areas south of Nettleton in the vicinity of Camargo Road.

Work will progress to serve the part of the county from Old Athens Road and the Becker community westward to Coontail Road. Rowland estimates the service in this area to be in place by early next year. After that, another phase will branch out feeder circuits from the Smithville substation.

The second phase, funded by CARES Act money, is going up in areas along Highway 8 E that have been determined to be underserved. That service area will reach as far north as Richardson Road.

“Changing out poles that are too short is our primary delay as we hang the fiber cable. The winter season that’s coming also brings challenges to the installation crews,” Rowland said.

The second phase of the project, based out of the Monroe substation near the intersection of highways 8 and 25 near Aberdeen, will also serve areas ranging from the Athens and Quincy communities to Lackey. It is expected to be completed by July 2021.

“Only two out of the four circuits have been designed thus far,” Rowland said.

Currently, sign-up opportunities are limited to areas that are being prepared for service.

“We’re delivering notices on door hangers to residences that are eligible to let them know that they can sign up,” Rowland said.

There are three options available for customers interested in signing up for broadband service: 1.) by signing up online by visiting www.mpulsefiber.com, 2.) by calling MCEPA at 256-2962 or 3.) by stopping be the Becker office, located at 50408 Greenbriar Rd.

Rowland is excited to see the first hurdle cleared for bringing rural broadband service to Monroe County when the first customers get connected to the service in time for Christmas this year.

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