Arkansas electric co-ops form Diamond State Networks for wholesale broadband

May 31, 2022
Diamond State Networks will operate more than 50,000 miles of fiber within a footprint that will cover more then 64% of the state, the co-ops assert.

Thirteen Arkansas electric cooperatives and/or their fiber-based subsidiaries have banded together to form Diamond State Networks, which will provide wholesale fiber-based broadband connectivity across the state. The co-ops behind the venture say they have or plan to invest more than $1.66 billion in fiber broadband infrastructure.

Diamond State Networks will operate more than 50,000 miles of fiber within a footprint that will cover more then 64% of the state, the co-ops assert. The combine infrastructure currently serves more than 1.25 million subscribers in rural Arkansas.

Mitchell Johnson (president and CEO of Ozarks Electric) and Jeremiah Sloan (president and CEO of Craighead Electric) have been named managing members. A board of directors comprises representatives of the 13 participating co-ops. Diamond State Networks’ first corporate office has opened in Jonesboro as well.

“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 Johnson. “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.”

Co-ops and fiber broadband subsidiaries that compose Diamond State Networks include:

  • OzarksGo of Fayetteville, a telecommunications subsidiary of Ozarks Electric Cooperative
  • Clay County Connect, based in Corning, a wholly owned subsidiary of Clay County Electric Cooperative Corporation (CCECC)
  • Farmers Electric Cooperative, based in Newport and serving members in Independence, Jackson, Poinsett, and Woodruff counties.
  • Petit Jean Fiber, based in Clinton, a subsidiary of Petit Jean Electric Cooperative
  • Enlightened by Woodruff Electric, headquartered in Forrest City and a subsidiary of Wodruff Electric Cooperative
  • NEXT Powered by NAEC, headquartered in Salem, a subsidiary of North Arkansas Electric Cooperative
  • Wave Rural Connect, based in Ozark, a subsidiary of Arkansas Valley Electric Cooperative
  • Arkansas Fiber Network (AFN), a wholly owned subsidiary of Arkansas Electric Cooperatives. Inc., a statewide association of the 17 distribution electric cooperatives in Arkansas. Arkansas Fiber Network provides middle-mile fiber in support of the distribution cooperatives’ broadband efforts and will do the same for Diamond State Networks.
  • Four States Fiber Internet, headquartered in Texarkana and a subsidiary of Southwest Arkansas Electric Cooperative
  • empower, Delivered by Craighead Electric, based in Jonesboro and a wholly owned subsidiary of Craighead Electric Cooperative Corp.
  • MCEC Fiber, based in Blytheville and a wholly owned subsidiary of Mississippi County Electric Cooperative
  • South Central Connect, based in Arkadelphia and a subsidiary of South Central Arkansas Electric Cooperative
  • Connect2First, based in Jacksonville and a wholly owned subsidiary of First Electric.

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