Fiber to the Home (FTTH) is the next wave in communication technology. It uses fiber-optic cable instead of traditional copper cable to deliver telephone, Internet, and video service. The upgrade to fiber-optic cable provides capacity for unlimited amounts of data, which is particularly relevant to Internet and video communication technologies. As Shawnee Communications completes burial of fiber-optic cable and installation of the required equipment, your home service will be ready for the demands of today’s telephone, Internet, and video communications.
Fiber optic equipment will allow Shawnee Communications to offer cleaner, more reliable home telephone service. You may not notice any change in your service except that you’ll have a supplied battery back-up that will maintain your phone service in case of a power outage.
With fiber-to-the-home, you’ll enjoy a faster Internet (data) experience. A fiber-to-the-home system will also give Shawnee Communications the ability to provide necessary bandwidth for high tech services developing in years ahead.
In September 2008, Shawnee connected our first subscribers to our FTTH Network. Over the next six months, Shawnee would convert over 400 subscribers in Simpson and nearly 200 subscribers in the Leamington and “rural” Equality exchanges. By the end of 2008, Simpson and Leamington would be our first two fully FTTH exchanges.
On July 8, 2010 Shawnee was awarded $7.35 million in grants and loans from the federal government and $1 million in state matching funds for its “Southern Illinois Sustainable Broadband Transformation” project that would build a sustainable broadband network to support additional economic development in Southern Illinois. The federal award, which was awarded by the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Rural Utility Service and the U.S. Department of Commerce’s National Telecommunications Information Administration, was one of 66 funded nationwide, for a total of $7.2 billion. The state matching funds would come through the Illinois Department of Commerce and Economic Opportunity. The project would see FTTH adoption in the Cave In Rock, Eddyville, Elizabethtown and Rosiclare exchanges, along with the township of Golconda, which is outside Shawnee’s traditional service territory.
In early August 2011, after many months of preparation, Shawnee began migrating the entire Cave In Rock exchange (minus Boyd’s Addition) to the FTTH network. Cave In Rock, which was the largest exchange in our stimulus project, consisted of over 500 subscribers. Over 95% of the subscribers were converted by mid-October and remaining work was completed in December 2011. Boyd’s Addition would be addressed at a later time.
In October 2011, we began migrating our “in-town” subscribers in Elizabethtown to our FTTH network, which consisted of over 150 subscribers. Progress was swift and all subscribers were converted in less than two months. Rural sections of Elizabethtown would be addressed at a later date.
In early November 2011, we began working to convert our “in-town” subscribers in Eddyville, which consists of approximately 150 homes. After a few short weeks of work, the project was 50% complete and by mid-December, all of the subscribers had been converted. Rural sections of Eddyville will be addressed at a later date.
In mid-November 2011, we also targeted “in town” Rosiclare for the next phase of FTTH conversions. Over the next three months, Shawnee would connect over 350 subscribers to the FTTH Network. Rural sections of Rosiclare would be addressed at a later date.
In early December 2011, we began work in the township of Golconda, which is located outside the traditional Shawnee ILEC service territory. In past years, Shawnee was only able to offer Golconda residents with long distance service and wireless Internet access. The addition of FTTH Internet service was sorely needed as this community had no access to fixed wire broadband options. We began migrating our 23 existing Wireless subscribers to FTTH services, added over 100 new subscribers and continue to add subscribers today.
To fully complete the Cave In Rock exchange, Boyd’s Addition was targeted for late August 2012. Since the population of Boyd’s Addition is quite small, the nearly 40 subscribers were able to be converted in a few shorts weeks. Once completed, Cave In Rock became our 3rd fully FTTH exchange.
In early November 2012, “in-town” subscribers in Equality began getting connected to the FTTH network. By the end of the year, over 250 subscribers had been moved to FTTH services, making Equality our 4th fully FTTH exchange.
While we were waiting on the last few Equality subscribers to be converted in December 2012, we got a head start of on the first of three sections of the Hicks exchange. This project would benefit everyone along the intersection of RT 34 and Karbers Ridge Blacktop South to the intersection of RT 34 and Humm’s Wye. From late December to mid-February, over 120 subscribers were brought onto the FTTH Network. In June 2013 we started work on the 2nd of 3 sections of the Hicks exchange. This project would benefit over 60 subscribers along the Karbers Ridge Blacktop. The remaining section of the Hicks exchange is still being planned.
In mid-September 2013, Shawnee began finishing up the “rural” section of Rosiclare. By the end of the year, over 200 subscribers were migrated to the FTTH Network, making Rosiclare our 5th fully FTTH exchange.
In mid-December 2013, Shawnee revisited Elizabethtown by addressing the “rural” areas of the exchange. Subscribers in this area were migrated to the FTTH network during the late 1st quarter/early 2nd quarter of 2013, which made Elizabethtown our 6th fully FTTH exchange.
After a lengthy delay in receiving contract approval from Rural Utility Services (RUS) regarding the Eddyville exchange, construction for “rural” Eddyville began in December of 2014. Inclement weather forced multiple delays in our original timeline and pushed project completion to September of 2014. Upon conversion of the estimated 85 rural Eddyville subscribers, Eddyville became our 7th fully FTTH exchange.
The lone remaining section of the Hicks exchange was the next phase of our FTTH build out. This project would benefit everyone along the intersection of RT 34 and Karbers Ridge Blacktop North to the end of our service territory, which is located 1.5 miles North of Herod. The phase, which brought FTTH services to approximately 300 subscribers, began in the early 4th quarter of 2015 and was completed in February 2016, making the Hicks exchange, our 8th fully FTTH exchange
In the 1st quarter of 2016, construction crews shifted their focus to Renshaw, our last non-FTTH exchange. The construction phase went better than expected and we are able to convert the approximately 220 subscribers to the FTTH network by the end of June, which made Shawnee the only fully Fiber to the Home provider in The State of Illinois!
But wait, we’re not done!
On June 8th, 2016, Shawnee completed the purchase of Moultrie Independent Telephone Company (MITCO) and its subsidiaries, which includes One-Eleven Internet. MITCO is located in Lovington, IL and immediately after executing the purchase agreement, plans were being created to build out a Fiber to the Home network in that community as well. In the 4th quarter of 2016, construction began in Lovington and after months of hard work, we began converting subscribers from copper to Fiber in September 2018. With hundreds of conversions to complete in a short amount of time, Shawnee collaborated with the Lincoln Trail College (LTC) to complete the work. LTC is based out of Robinson, Illinois and for over 35 years have offered a highly successful telecommunications program which has help launch the telecom careers of hundreds of students. Shawnee utilized eight LTC Telecom students to complete the Lovington conversions by the end of 2017. Our Fiber build also included several unserved communities that surround Lovington.
While all of the work in Lovington was happening, Shawnee also acquired the rights to serve The Peninsula; a growing community on a Southern portion on The Lake of Egypt that had no access to fix wire telecommunications services. After months of planning, construction began in the summer of 2017 to extend mainline fiber from our Simpson exchange, through Tunnel Hill to The Peninsula. FTTH installations for The Peninsula began in February 2018.
Shawnee has been continually asked to provide services outside of our traditional ILEC service territory and in January 2018, we decided to take a new approach regarding expansion. In February, we launched www.shawnee.com/iwantfiber; a web site where residents in need of reliable, affordable broadband Internet service can register their interest in Shawnee expanding FTTH services to their area. The goal is for us to be armed with real data that will guide us towards cost effective expansion of our FTTH network.