Fiber Utility Network Announces Vantage Point Solutions as Engineering Firm of Record
August 1, 2023
National broadband engineering and consulting services provider to accelerate deployment of high-speed backbone across 64 counties in Alabama
MONTGOMERY (July 31, 2023) — Fiber Utility Network, Inc. (FUN)— a coalition of eight electric co-ops and their subsidiaries and key partners dedicated to expediting a world-class, middle-mile broadband backbone across Alabama — announced today that Vantage Point Solutions (VPS) has been named engineering firm of record for the coalition’s 3,000-mile network of both existing and new fiber infrastructure across 64 counties statewide.
“The Fiber Utility Network has spent countless hours conceptualizing how to lower costs and improve backbone capabilities needed by broadband providers in Alabama, particularly those in rural areas, with access to the Internet in a visionary way,” said FUN Chairman and Central Alabama Electric Cooperative President/CEO Tom Stackhouse. “The selection of an engineering and design firm is a key decision that will make this vision a reality. Vantage Point Solutions has done extensive work in the state and was the clear winner of a competitive process to select this important middle-mile implementation partner.”
VPS offers comprehensive engineering and consulting services tailored to the unique needs of broadband providers and other network operators. In Alabama, specifically, the firm will provide detailed design for network equipment, evaluating existing fiber, designing new fiber builds, implementing new equipment huts and providing operational and project management support.
“The vision for Fiber Utility Network is a game changer for Alabama,” says Chad Glanzer, President of Vantage Point Solutions and one of the engineers overseeing the project. “We’re pleased to be named the engineering firm of record and have enjoyed working with coalition members as initial plans have taken shape. Our team is looking forward to helping bring this great project to life for Alabama’s broadband providers.”
The Fiber Utility Network is co-op led and is comprised of Central Alabama Electric Cooperative, Coosa Valley Electric Cooperative, Covington Electric Cooperative, Cooperative Connection LLC (a subsdiary of Cullman Electric Cooperative), JWEMC Communications LLC (a subsidiary of Joe Wheeler Electric Membership Cooperative), North Alabama Electric Cooperative, Tombigbee Electric Cooperative and PowerSouth Energy Cooperative — alongside fiber lease partner Alabama Power Company. In September 2022, Gov. Kay Ivey announced that FUN would receive an $82,450,000 grant by way of the American Rescue Plan Act (ARPA) for the creation of a statewide middle-mile network.
By using member co-op and Alabama Power’s existing fiber assets as over 80% of the network’s fiber backbone, members will ultimately provide their communities with enhanced upstream capabilities — more capacity and more resiliency at a better value — all while enhancing rural healthcare and education support in areas served.
“Without Gov. Ivey and her providing us with a generous ARPA grant, our vision as a coalition would have been delayed and progress to Alabama’s rural counties stalled for an unforeseen amount of time,” said Stackhouse. “We are thankful for her shared vision for a connected Alabama and for making statewide broadband access a key focus of her administration.”
VPS has already begun work to activate FUN’s existing fiber segments of the FUN network with a targeted active network in 2024. FUN’s next phase — set for completion by 2026 — will be construction of an anticipated 500 miles of new fiber.
Additionally, FUN is developing marketing and branding materials that will be announced prior to a formal project launch.
“This is an exciting chapter in our story, and we look forward to working with our member co-ops, our partners, Alabama’s economic development leaders, and rural broadband ISP customers, in order to serve our communities and the people of Alabama as middle-mile implementation begins,” added Stackhouse.