Coast Electric Power Association is pleased to announce CoastConnect, a subsidiary of the electric cooperative that will provide phone and high-speed internet service to customers in Harrison, Hancock and Pearl River counties. CoastConnect is a stand-alone subsidiary and its operations do not impact any Coast Electric member’s electrical costs.
The announcement comes after the successful buildout of a pilot project in Pearl River County, funded by the Coronavirus Aid, Relief and Economic Security (CARES) Act, and more than a year of required research and data collecting to determine if the venture is in the best interest of Coast Electric and our community. In August, 97.1% of voting Coast Electric members approved a change to the cooperative’s certificate of consolidation to allow the company to offer broadband services.
“The vote in August was overwhelming. We hear from members every day who need internet access,” said Coast Electric and CoastConnect President and CEO Ron Barnes. “We know people are excited and we are excited to serve them but building a system will take some time. We will work with urgency, but we won’t compromise the reliability or structural integrity of the system. Our members expect a certain level of service from Coast Electric, and we want to provide them with the same level of service at CoastConnect.”
Just as Coast Electric was formed in the 1930s to deliver electricity to those in rural areas, CoastConnect will deliver high-speed broadband internet and phone service to rural residents in the three-county area. The state-of-the-art fiber network offers the fastest, most reliable internet service available anywhere.
Residential internet packages offer upload and download speeds of either 100 Megabits or 1 Gigabit with no data caps. Packages to meet the needs of any business or school are also available. Phone service is available for residential and commercial customers as well. Visit www.coastconnect.com for information on package options and add-ons, and to see if service will be available in your area soon.
“This is an exciting day for residents in our three-county area,” Barnes said. “Internet connectivity is essential in today’s world. Where you live shouldn’t negatively impact the service you receive. Lack of access has kept certain opportunities from rural residents and businesses for too long. I am proud to be part of a venture that is going to forever change the quality of life for our communities and bring opportunities to the people we serve. This will bolster economic development and provide more opportunities for residents and businesses in our area.”
YouTube: Search for CoastConnect
January 31, 2019 – The Mississippi legislature passes the Mississippi Broadband Enabling Act, a bill that will allow electric cooperatives to provide broadband internet service to rural Mississippians.
2019 – Coast Electric conducts feasibility studies and member surveys required by law to determine if offering phone and internet service to residents in its three-county service area is necessary and financially viable.
March 2020 – In the midst of the COVID-19 pandemic, having access to remote healthcare, work and school becomes more important than ever. The state receives federal funds for the CARES Act and approves $62 million for expanding internet access for Mississippians.
July 2020 – Coast Electric receives a $6 million grant to conduct a broadband pilot project in the cooperative’s most underserved area, as defined by the Federal Communications Commission. Construction immediately begins in Pearl River County to meet the December 2020 deadline for the grant.
August 2020 – While construction is underway for the pilot project, Coast Electric must get approval from a majority of voting members before they can make plans for a larger-scale broadband project. Members are asked to vote to approve a change to the cooperative’s certificate of consolidation, allowing the company to offer broadband service, if it is determined that offering these services is in the best interest of the community. When votes were tallied, 97.1% of those who voted, voted in support of changing the certificate and allowing Coast Electric to offer broadband internet service.
August 2020 – October 2020 – Construction on the CARES Act pilot project in Pearl River County continues while Coast Electric’s board of directors monitors the project and makes final determinations on offering broadband services.
November 2020 – CoastConnect, a subsidiary of Coast Electric, is announced. CoastConnect will bring phone and high-speed internet service to residents and businesses in Harrison, Hancock and Pearl River counties.