Fiber Forward: Domain residents learn about impact of fiber project from cooperative and university leaders

SEWANEE, Tennessee — Three entities that have long impacted life in the region are partnering to bring advanced technology to The Domain.

About 40 residents of The Domain attended a community meeting at Convocation Hall Sept. 12 to learn about this partnership. Representatives of the University of the South, Duck River Electric Membership Corporation and Ben Lomand Connect shared plans to build a fiber network that would bring state-of-the-art broadband connectivity to the hundreds of homes and businesses in the area.

Eric Hartman, the university’s vice president of risk management and institutional effectiveness, opened the event by explaining the overall project. He then turned the presentation over to representatives of the two cooperatives, including Ben Lomand Connect’s CEO Lisa Cope and Duck River EMC’s Interim CEO Charles McDonald. Both spoke of the significance of two cooperatives working together to improve quality of life, which is in keeping with the foundational principles of the cooperative business model.

Throughout the meeting, officials with the cooperatives showed maps detailing the phases of the proposed fiber construction, along with details about the engineering and technology behind a fiber network. They also shared slides to explain the larger benefits of a smart electric grid.

Most importantly, attendees learned about the many opportunities a fiber network brings to a community, including telemedicine, economic development, remote working, online learning and entertainment.

The panel fielded several questions from the audience, ranging from timelines, to performance of the network and to the capacity for growth.

The overall reception to the infrastructure project was positive, and Hartman expressed confidence the partnership would move forward.