Broadband service is expected to begin another expansion in Tipton County, this time to Southwest Tennessee Electric Membership Corporation customers.

STEMC and Aeneas Internet and Telephone announced today they have formed a partnership to build and expand a gigabit fiber network to bring broadband communications to the region.


“We have heard the call from our consumer-members all over the service area who are asking for reliable high-speed internet service,” said Kevin Murphy, president of Southwest Tennessee Electric. “Recognizing that retail broadband service would be a new space for the cooperative, we began looking for a local partner with similar mission and purpose – serving the rural communities of West Tennessee. We found that strategic partnership with Aeneas Internet and Telephone. Aeneas is passionate about local customer service, and that is the culture and purpose that we looked for in a partner.”

This partnership will pave the way for a multi-year, multi-million-dollar investment into West Tennessee’s future.

Tipton and Chester counties will be the areas of focus in the project’s first phase, which will involve construction of nearly 1,000 miles of fiber optic cable next spring. It will take a year to complete the first phase and some customers could be connected as early as the summer.

Additionally, grant applications have been submitted to serve Southwest Tennessee Electric consumer-members in Hardeman and Haywood counties. Following phases will be launched based on participation and interest.

The new network will eventually expand to provide high-speed internet access to every consumer-member in STEMC’s service area and will allow the utility to build one of the most advanced electric distribution systems in Tennessee.

The communication network will allow the cooperative to monitor and remotely manage equipment across the utility’s 11-county service area, reducing cost, improving reliability and increasing operational efficiency.

Currently in the Covington and Brighton areas, residents can choose between broadband providers AT&T U-Verse and Xfinity, but in the south end of the county the only option is Ritter.

The gigabit fiber network will also allow STEMC and Aeneas to bring broadband internet and telephone services to many unserved areas of southwest Tennessee.

The entire project is expected to take five years to complete.

“What an exciting time for West Tennessee!” said Stephen Thorpe, CEO of Jackson-based Aeneas Internet and Telephone. “For years we have worked with Southwest Tennessee Electric on various projects bringing broadband service to rural communities around West Tennessee. The need for broadband is growing rapidly, and in today’s world we really do rely on it being available to all of us – not just those that live in or around the metro areas. Our founder Jonathan Harlan instilled in us a commitment to the communities we live in and the people we serve – to always have our customers and community our top priority. This is why he believed Southwest Tennessee Electric would be a perfect partner because we share cultures and beliefs. All of us here at Aeneas are excited to partner with Southwest Tennessee Electric to continue with Mr. Harlan’s legacy and help bring this much needed service to even more people in the communities we serve!”

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Echo Day
Author: Echo Day

Echo Day is an award-winning journalist, photographer and designer. She is currently The Leader's managing editor.