Thirteen Arkansas Electric Cooperatives Create Diamond State Networks

Diamond State Networks is investing $1.66 billion to build a statewide middle mile network.

  • OzarksGo

 

Jonesboro, Arkansas--With a mission to catalyze the growth of high-speed internet connectivity throughout Arkansas and make it the most significantly connected state in the country, a collective of more than a dozen Arkansas electric cooperatives have partnered together to announce the formation of Diamond State Networks, a new wholesale broadband provider uniting the fiber-optic networks of member cooperatives throughout the state. 

Motivated to serve, Arkansas electric cooperatives have been bringing electricity to their communities since the 1930s. The goal of Diamond State Networks (DSN) is to enhance that commitment by providing high-speed broadband connections, the next essential service and arguably the single-most powerful bridge of socioeconomic divides.

Promising to further enhance connectivity throughout Arkansas with a network covering more than 64 percent of the state’s land mass and more than 50,000 miles of fiber lines, DSN is providing access to 1.25 million rural Arkansans. The backbone of Diamond State Networks is formed by the partnership of 13 member-owned Arkansas electric cooperatives and/or their fiber network subsidiaries. The new network will provide fiber broadband users with the backing of hundreds of years combined experience in providing Arkansans with vital utility services. The strength of their experience, combined with the progressive model of DSN’s statewide coverage goals will serve as a solid platform for success.

Together, the 13 electric cooperatives have invested, or are planning to invest, more than $1.66 billion in broadband communication infrastructure, exclusively in fiber-optic networks. Focusing on reliability, quality and sustainability, the network will serve nearly 600,000 potential customer locations, and will have an immensely positive impact on the state’s economy by helping to make Arkansas a place where people want to live and do business for years to come.

Having recently opened its first official corporate office location in Jonesboro, Diamond State Networks is led by co-Managing Members Mitchell Johnson (president and CEO of Ozarks Electric) and Jeremiah Sloan (president and CEO of Craighead Electric). The organization is governed by a board of directors composed of additional executive leaders from its 13 partner cooperatives or subsidiary fiber networks. The unique alliance recently held its first annual conference May 23-24 in Hot Springs, Arkansas, where team members of the partner networks discussed the current state of DSN, attended various breakout sessions and roundtables, perused vendor exhibits and took part in general sessions that included a CEO panel as well as a session focused on public-private partnerships. 

“By bringing these networks together, we’re investing to build a middle mile network for long-term, far-reaching affordability and delivering high-performance connectivity to every corner of our state,” said Mitchell Johnson, co-Managing Member of Diamond State Networks. “Ultimately it will offer local internet service providers better access and capacity to deliver their services, and better opportunities to directly serve businesses with reliable connectivity wherever they are. We’re making it affordable to reach more areas with best-in-class technology to close the gaps from past limitations.”

The partner entities that make up DSN include:

  • OzarksGo — based in Fayetteville, a telecommunications subsidiary of Ozarks Electric Cooperative, offering all-fiber gigabit internet and premium television and telephone services to Northwest Arkansas and Northeast Oklahoma.
  • Clay County Connect – based in Corning, a wholly owned subsidiary of Clay County Electric Cooperative Corporation (CCECC), serving members in Clay, Randolph and Greene counties.
  • Farmers Electric Cooperative – based in Newport, serving members in Independence, Jackson, Poinsett and Woodruff counties.
  • Petit Jean Fiber – based in Clinton, a subsidiary of Petit Jean Electric Cooperative, serving members in central Arkansas.
  • Enlightened by Woodruff Electric ­– headquartered in Forrest City, a subsidiary of Wodruff Electric Cooperative, serving parts of Woodruff, Prairie, Monroe, Cross, St. Francis, Lee and Phillips counties in eastern Arkansas.
  • NEXT Powered by NAEC – headquartered in Salem, a subsidiary of North Arkansas Electric Cooperative, bringing state-of-the-art broadband internet, telephone and television services to members in eight north Arkansas counties.
  • Wave Rural Connect – based in Ozark, a subsidiary of Arkansas Valley Electric Cooperative, serving members in the Arkansas river valley and into parts of nearby Oklahoma.
  • Arkansas Fiber Network(AFN) – is a wholly-owned subsidiary of Arkansas Electric Cooperatives. Inc., the statewide association of the 17 distribution electric cooperatives in Arkansas. Arkansas Fiber Network was formed to provide middle-mile fiber in support of the distribution cooperatives’ broadband efforts, as well as those of Diamond State Networks. 
  • Four States Fiber Internet – headquartered in Texarkana, a subsidiary of Southwest Arkansas Electric Cooperative, offering high-speed internet to members in Miller, Howard, Sevier, Columbia, Lafayette, Hempstead, Little River and Polk counties in Arkansas; Bowie and Cass Counties in Texas; and McCurtain County in Oklahoma.
  • Empower--Delivered by Craighead Electric – based in Jonesboro, a wholly owned subsidiary of Craighead Electric Cooperative Corporation, serving customers throughout northeast Arkansas.
  • MCEC Fiber – based in Blytheville, a wholly owned subsidiary of Mississippi County Electric Cooperative, serving members in northern Mississippi County, Arkansas.
  • South Central Connect – based in Arkadelphia, a subsidiary of South Central Arkansas Electric Cooperative, serving members in Clark, Hot Spring, Pike, Montgomery and Nevada counties.
  • Connect2First – based in Jacksonville, a wholly owned subsidiary of First Electric, serving members throughout central and southeastern Arkansas.

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