Tri-Co Connections connects first customer in Coudersport areato high-speed fiber internet service Tuesday, April 7, on Niles Hill Road near Coudersport.
The family of Dave and Katie Taylor began receiving 100-megabit broadband service at 2 p.m. Tuesday as Tri-Co Connections, the internet subsidiary of Tri-County Rural Electric Cooperative, completed the first of hundreds of fiber-to-the-home installations planned in the Coudersport area of Potter County over the next six months.
“We are so excited,” said Katie Taylor. “Having reliable internet will be a huge plus. We look forward to having internet that works normally so the kids can watch TV without it going off every five minutes, my husband can play video games, and I can work on my computer at the same time.”
Taylor, who works as a drug and alcohol prevention specialist for Potter County, said she had been struggling to work from home during the corona virus pandemic because of poor internet service.
“We are at the end of the line and our service has not worked very well,” she said. “We have very slow speeds, and most of the time it doesn’t work at all.”
On the day before an installer with Tri-Co Connections connected the Taylor home to 100-megabit-per-second broadband service, Taylor noted she was supposed to have a virtual meeting over the internet using the Zoom application.
“I had a Zoom conference at 10, and at 9:55 our internet went out,” she said. “I had to wait 20 minutes for the internet to come back up before I could log on.”
Her husband, Dave, a U.S. Marine Corps veteran who served in Iraq and Afghanistan, said he is looking forward to being able to utilize high-speed internet for things like telemedicine, downloading video games and looking up parts for projects he is working on at home.
“It’s going to be nice to actually have good internet,” he said. “My biggest thing is being able to look up parts for a truck that I’m rebuilding and guns that I’m working on — and keeping the kids occupied.”
Tri-County President & CEO Craig Eccher and Tri-Co Connections’ senior vice president of business development, Bill Gerski, were on hand to congratulate the family — following proper COVID-19 social-distancing protocols — and to witness the historic launch of fiber-optic broadband in rural northcentral Pennsylvania.
With the Taylor family’s home installation complete, Tri-County becomes the first electric cooperative in Pennsylvania to deliver affordable fiber-optic internet service to its membership. Over the next five to six years Tri-County will make broadband internet service available to all of its members across the cooperative’s 5,000-square-mile service territory in northcentral Pennsylvania.
“I am excited for the Taylor family and all of our cooperative members who we will be connecting to high-speed internet service through Tri-Co Connections in the Coudersport area in the days and weeks ahead,” said Eccher. “During a time when the corona virus pandemic is forcing parents and children to work and learn from home, the need for access to high-speed internet is more apparent than ever. We are pleased to be able to provide a great broadband experience in our region and help bridge the digital divide in our rural communities.”
The Tri-Co Connections fiber build-out officially kicked off Nov. 18, 2019, when crews began work along Dingman Run Road outside of Coudersport. Since then, crews have completed about 60 miles of fiber-optic cable construction in Tri-County service territory north of Coudersport.
Phase one of the build-out entails construction of about 110 miles of fiber in western portions of Tri-County’s service area that will make broadband service available to approximately 1,135 Tri-County residential, seasonal and commercial members in Potter County.
After phase one construction concludes this spring, the project will shift to phase two: building a 464-mile fiber backbone that will connect Tri-County REC’s 22 substations. The fiber backbone will improve electric system communications and expand the cooperative’s smart grid capabilities.
With headquarters in Mansfield, Pa., Tri-County Rural Electric Cooperative has served the residents of north-central Pennsylvania since 1937. Today the cooperative provides electricity to over 16,600 members in Tioga, Potter, Bradford, Lycoming, Clinton, McKean and Cameron counties.
Dave and Katie Taylor of Coudersport and their children, Jude and Mary Kate, became the first official customers of Tri-Co Connections Tuesday, April 7, when their Niles Hill Road home was connected to 100 megabit-per-second fiber internet service. Tri-Co Connections, a subsidiary of Tri-County Rural Electric Cooperative, has entered the installation and service-connection phase of its multi-year project to bring broadband to rural northcentral Pennsylvania. Installers are actively connecting customers in the Dingman Run area outside of Coudersport. Fiber installation is consider an essential service by the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania.