Co-Mo Electric members will have an opportunity previously reserved for only a few metropolitan areas such as Kansas City. The cooperative's communications subsidiary, Co-Mo Comm, announced Monday, July 1, it is launching a gigabit service tier this fall.
"The reason is simple," said Randy Klindt, Co-Mo Comm's general manager. "We can do it, and the few places we have competition, our competitors can't. We believe this will be the first gigabit Internet service in rural America, and there are less than 50 cities nationwide that have it. Gigabit speeds will prepare our area for the future and make our communities more attractive for new businesses looking for a well-connected location."
A gigabit, by definition, is 1,000 megabits per second. It is hundreds and sometimes thousands of times faster than what Co-Mo members have access to today. Most DSL connections deliver around 768 kilobits - not megabits - per second. Nationwide, including all major cities with advanced technology, the average network speed is 7.2 megabits per second. That makes Co-Mo's new top speed more than 138 times the national average.
Gigabit Internet makes buffering and long upload or download times a thing of the past. With gigabit speeds, a typical iTunes song or large photo of the grandkids would download in less than a tenth of a second, compared to almost a minute and a half on a 768 kbps connection. A full DVD, typically 4.7 GB, would take 40 seconds to download, compared to more than 14 hours on a standard DSL connection.
Pricing for the new service is under development. The 1 gbps service tier will be added to Connect's current 5, 20, 50 and 100 megabit per second tiers.
"This truly gives our subscribers the flexibility to get whatever service meets their needs," Klindt said. "We understand that many don't need gigabit speeds, but we want everyone to know it is here and ready for you when you do."
The network is being built and operated without taxpayer funding.
The gigabit service is being showcased at the Green Dream Home at the Lake of the Ozark's Villages of Shawnee Bend. Tours of the home, on Eastwood Road, run Thursday through Sunday through July 27.
"This is a great opportunity for us to take the network and show its immense capacity," Klindt said. "It's a chance for us to showcase all this network can do."
In addition to the Internet speeds, Co-Mo Connect's new TV service will be on display inside the home. The new 1-gigabit service will be able to run the latest in in-home gizmos and gadgets. One of the most interesting features at the energy-efficient home is a new type of programmable thermostat called the Nest Learning Thermostat.
Nest has a mobile app to connect to your thermostat from your smart phone. So if a resident is headed to his lake home from, say, Kansas City, for the Fourth of July, he can use the app to have his home nice and cool by the time he arrives.
With a network as powerful as Co-Mo Connect as the backbone, the limits of what a homeowner can do are not easily reached, Klindt said, and go far beyond a Nest Learning Thermostat.
"The network will allow you to install a surveillance system that includes video so, if your primary residence is somewhere else or if you're simply on vacation, you can check via mobile apps or another computer to have the peace of mind that your home is safe," Klindt said.
In addition, new technology in sprinkler systems can tie your lawn watering to weather apps. If the weather report shows more than a certain percentage chance of rain, your sprinkler system skips watering for that day and saves you money on needless irrigation. Or if a stray shower comes through, it can detect the moisture and postpone watering.
"That's what all of this technology is about - saving you money - and that's what this energy-efficient home in general is about, too - saving the homeowner money over the long haul on his electric bills," Klindt said.
It's also about setting up the new homeowner for the future.
"With other networks, they have the capacity for technology that is prevalent right now," Klindt said. "But things that are coming, things like ultra high definition television and 3D television, our network will have no problem with that. Others will be bumping up against their capacity. And you can buy an ultra HD TV at retailers today."
The Co-Mo Connect network came to life through demand from the members of Co-Mo Electric Cooperative. After a successful pilot project in two small sections of the cooperative's service territory, the Co-Mo Board of Directors announced a four-phase expansion of the fiber-to-the-home network last June throughout Co-Mo country.
Phase 1 construction is ongoing, with television service joining the pilot-project lineup of Internet and unlimited local and long distance residential telephone. Each phase of the project is expected to take about a year to complete.
More information about the gigabit Internet package and all of Co-Mo Connect's features will be available at co-mo.net.