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North Central Electric Cooperative (NCE) is pleased to continue moving forward with Bascom Communications (Bascom) on a joint effort to bring fiber optic internet access to the rural areas of Seneca County following the announcement of $3 million in grant funding from The Ohio Department of Development, Office of BroadbandOhio.

The estimated $26 million collaboration between NCE and Bascom was first announced in September 2022.  Both cooperatives anticipate the project will increase fiber optic broadband access availability to 81% of the estimated 9,600 rural homes and businesses in Seneca County that currently lack fast and reliable internet access and will allow for even further expansion down the line.

With expanded internet access, NCE will also see several added benefits in its ability to uphold the high quality of service expected from its membership, including the introduction of more advanced communications technology throughout the cooperative’s system. This advanced technology will impact NCE’s ability to back feed and reroute power between substations, increasing reliability and reducing outage times. The data collected through these communications will also help the cooperative visualize trends, patterns, and anomalies that can be avoided in the pursuit of grid optimization.

Additionally, the integration of this advanced technology with NCE’s electric distribution system allows the cooperative to plan for the future. Fiber connectivity provides the opportunity to adapt and accommodate increased data needs as the electric grid evolves, especially when considering new demands such as electric vehicle infrastructure and renewable energy sources.

“Rural Americans deserve and expect the same access and availability as those in urban areas,” said Edward VanHoose, President/CEO of NCE.  “Like the build-out of electric infrastructure in the 1940s, we once again find ourselves advocating for these necessities that every American needs to live a full and happy life.  NCE is proud to be this advocate for our members and looks forward to this growing collaboration with Bascom.”  

This fiber network will also have countless opportunities for commercial businesses seeking to grow or locate in the area.  The economic development of Seneca County will help raise property values and offset the financial burden of infrastructure costs on the average person. 

“The $3 million dollar grant allows us to create the backbone for much larger deployment that will finally fill in the gaps in broadband coverage that has existed in our area for far too long.  The economic, educational, and quality of life impacts to residents, and businesses will be transcendent,” said Nate Brickner, General Manager/CEO of Bascom Communications.