Just south of Mount San Jacinto in southern California, several small communities hope for better Internet access. The local cooperative has submitted a plan to build a next generation network fiber network further into Riverside County.
Anza Electric Cooperative wants to expand its Fiber-to-the-Home (FTTH) network through another 200 square miles of its service territory. This $3.7 million project should connect another 1,200 residents to the growing network.
New Project Proposed by Anza Electric
Currently, Anza Electric is drumming up funding for the proposed project. The co-op already has about $1.5 million to put toward the venture and is now requesting a $2.2 million grant from the state.
This network, called Connect Anza, will bring high-speed Internet service to several small, rural communities in Riverside County: Pinyon Pines, Garner Valley, and Mountain Center. High-speed Internet service of 50 Megabits per second (Mbps) will be $49 per month; service is symmetrical so upload and download speeds are the same. Residents will also be able to get phone service from the co-op for another $20 per month. Local fire stations and the Ronald McDonald camp for children with cancer will receive free Internet access through this project.
Anza Electric Built a Network
The deployment continues Anza Electric’s previous project to connect more than 3,000 underserved households around Anza, California. The previous project was pushed forward by the overwhelming support of the electric cooperative’s member-owners, residents who receive electric service from the co-op.
Anza Electric first started adding fiber optic lines for electricity management in July 2015. Later that year, at the annual cooperative meeting, more than 90% of members present voted to include fiber optics and high-speed Internet service in the cooperative’s bylaws. The vote encouraged the cooperative to continue to build fiber optic lines.
In December 2015, the state of California approved a grant of almost $2.7 million for Anza Electric to which the co-op matched with another $1.8 million to build the FTTH network. As Anza Electric finishes up the project, the co-op is preparing to start the next deployment in Pinyon Pines.
State Grant Programs Support Local Control
Although the California Advanced Services Fund does give some funding to AT&T, it is similar to many other states’ programs, such as in Minnesota. The grant program requires participating providers to match about half of the grant amount.
Many cooperatives have taken advantage of state grant programs to build FTTH networks. By connecting farms, small businesses, and homes in some of the hardest to reach areas, telephone and electric cooperatives are closing the digital divide. Anza Electric Cooperative is part of that growing movement of cooperatives building the infrastructure necessary to keep rural communities strong. Learn more about cooperatives on our resource page.