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Best of Broadband: Cumberland Connect

Cumberland Connect strives to be a people-focused provider.

By Livability on April 11, 2023

Cumberland Connect tents in Robertson County.
Cumberland Connect

Cumberland Connect is the equivalent of your friendly next-door neighbor. Rather than occasionally communicating with a stranger operating from a call center, this broadband provider is run by employees who live and work in or near your community. 

They’re the people you see shopping at the grocery store, sitting a few rows from you at church and filling the bleachers at Friday night football games. 

Compared to most providers, this kind of familiarity is unheard of, yet as a subsidiary of local electric co-op CEMC, it’s one of the many qualities this organization is known for. Here are a few other ways Cumberland Connect stands apart from its competition: 

Fulfilling a Need

Despite the necessity for broadband, many rural communities still lack proper access. This is because deploying the needed infrastructure in those locations, as opposed to urban areas, is not as profitable for private companies, according to Mark T. Cook, P.E., CEMC’s broadband manager. 

For Cumberland Connect, however, the idea of not raking in dollars is not a deterrent. In fact, rather than being profit-driven, the organization uses a cost-recovery model, providing broadband to its members in parts of Stewart, Montgomery, Cheatham, Robertson and Sumner counties.

“When you take profit out of the window, we just say, ‘What’s a fair return time to charge people to recover our costs?’” Cook says. “When we bring fiber gigabit-speed internet to these communities that never had it, it’s a game changer. It’s life-changing.” 

Affordable & Transparent 

Speaking of costs, Cumberland Connect is upfront about their pricing, offering either a $50 or $80 plan. 

“We don’t offer introductory or teaser rates at all. We tell people all the time that this is your price day one, and it will be your price from here on because we don’t ever plan on raising our internet prices,” Cook says. “That’s something that people sometimes balk at because they’ve never been treated that way.”

In addition to keeping prices constant, Cumberland Connect also offers an unlimited referral program. When a person signs up to receive CCFiber service, they are given a referral code that they can share with friends and family. Each time that code is applied, a $10 credit is added to the person’s account. 

“We tell customers that if they have enough friends and enough referrals, they could get their internet for free,” Cook adds. 

Cumberland Connect employees at a stuff the bus event in Roberston County.
Cumberland Connect

A Community-Minded Provider

Cumberland Connect is also actively involved in the communities it serves. Here are just a few events the organization has taken part in or supported over the last few months:  

  • Sumner County Veterans Rally & 5K
  • Community C.A.R.E.S. Walk, benefiting the Clarksville Association for Down Syndrome (Montgomery County)
  • Annual Cooperative Day of Service, benefiting Isaiah 117 House (Robertson County)
  • Back-to-School Bash (Sumner and Robertson counties)
  • Clarksville-Montgomery County School System Career Fair 
  • Clarksville-Montgomery County School System Stuff the Bus
  • School Staff Lunches (multiple counties)

“As a cooperative, we’re based on seven principles, and one of those seven is engaging and partnering with the communities that we live in and serve,” Cook notes. “At CEMC and Cumberland Connect, we all take that very seriously on both sides – the electric and broadband side. In the last six months, we’ve participated in dozens of events, dozens of sponsorships, and will continue to do so because serving our communities in these ways is a big part of who we are.”

Prioritizing Members

Cumberland Connect’s mission is to put its members first – no matter the situation.   

For example, when the organization launched a TV service in 2020, they soon found out that it wasn’t as competitive and high-quality as the company wanted. Because of this, Cumberland Connect started offering educational workshops to teach those who are using their TV service how to transition to another streaming platform. 

“There have been so many instances where we have told people that if they switch from our TV service to another but still have our internet, then they can have the same or better TV and save money. People find it surprising that we offer this kind of information or support, but we love it,” Cook says. “We aren’t in it for the profit, we’re in it for the best service for our members, and we’ll continue to do that.”

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