The Great Rural Digital Infrastructure Movement is Accelerating, With RDOF and CARES Act Grants Awarded to Tombigbee

By Matthew Vulpis, Content Contributor  |  June 03, 2021

The American economic recovery is well underway today, and despite “gridlock” in Washington, DC, funds are flowing to worthy rural broadband projects, including federal grants given to Tombigbee Electric Cooperative, a non-profit, member-operated utility company bringing ultra-high-speed fiber optic internet and HD phone services through its freedom FIBER services across Northwest Alabama.

Ribbon Communications (News - Alert) Inc. (Nasdaq: RBBN), a global provider of real-time communications software and IP Optical networking solutions to service providers, enterprises, and critical infrastructure sectors, recently announced that Tombigbee selected Ribbon and KGPCo, a network solutions and services supplier to service providers, to upgrade its fiber network and help bring high-speed access to its rural customers.

Tombigbee is leveraging Ribbon’s Apollo IP Optical network solution and KGPCo’s hut locations, fiber, routers, and Gigabit Passive Optical Network (GPON) access systems to deliver broadband access to member customers in its most rural service areas. 

“We were fortunate enough to be recipients of grants from the federal government’s Rural Digital Opportunity Fund (RDOF) and CARES Act, and we want to use these funds to deliver high-speed broadband access to any of our member customers who want it,” said Steve Foshee, CEO of Tombigbee Electric Cooperative. ”Many of our members live in previously underserved areas and don’t have access to high-speed internet, so our goal is to make Northwest Alabama a Gigabit Ethernet Zone. Leveraging Ribbon’s advanced IP Optical platform and KGPCo’s industry-leading fiber, routing, and access capabilities, we are able to deliver ultra-high-speed internet access and broadband to all of our customers, regardless of where they live.”

“Funding from the RDOF and CARES Act will go a long way in helping forward-thinking service providers like Tombigbee extend broadband service to those who have previously not had access,” said Steven Bruny, EVP Sales Americas Region for Ribbon. “We are honored Tombigbee selected our IP Optical solutions to help upgrade their network. We are also extremely pleased to continue our strong partnership with KGPCo and offer Tombigbee an end-to-end turnkey solution.”

Bruny added, “The Apollo’s small form factor with integrated amplifiers and enhanced fiber health management capabilities, which provide early warnings of fiber issues, and pinpoints problems to within a few meters from a centralized network operations center, make it an ideal solution for rural service providers looking to expand their network reach.”

“We are proud to work with our partner Ribbon to deliver such a special project and be a key part in helping provide all Tombigbee customers the ability to have high-speed broadband,” said Desi O’Grady, SVP, Service Provider Sales for KGPCo. “Working with Ribbon, we delivered a comprehensive solution that enables Tombigbee to significantly extend the reach of their existing network.”

Using its existing public right of ways and ringed fiber network, Tombigbee leveraged Ribbon and KGPCo solutions to provide extended reach and an efficient, redundant means of carrying rural traffic back to main sites for fast routing to the internet. Now all Tombigbee customers who may have been limited to DSL speeds have access to 1 Gigabit home internet speeds. Ribbon’s Apollo IP optical transport and switching platform allows Tombigbee to optimize network traffic, enhance layer 1 security and lower the cost per bit.

Edited by Luke Bellos