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NIPCO Telecommunications Improves System Reliability

As a utility, telecommunications has been a very important requirement for the reliable operations of Northwest Iowa Power Cooperative.

In the early years, telecommunications for NIPCO consisted of either a dedicated telephone line or private radio network. NIPCO has always tried to not be dependent on 3rd party providers for something considered so critical to its daily operations. With that in mind, NIPCO established a large microwave network in the mid-60s to haul its internal data. This system supported NIPCO's communications needs for several decades.

In the mid-1990’s the FCC reclaimed the licensed radio spectrum utilized by many utilities, including NIPCO, for critical operations and reallocated it to a "new" technology call PCS or ‘Personal Communications Systems’ – a.k.a. cell phone services. When NIPCO learned of the loss of this critical resource it was determined, based on our original mindset, to stay with a communications system that was owned, managed, and controlled by NIPCO. Thus began a multiyear replacement of our microwave system with a fiber optic ring encompassing the majority of our critical substations in western Iowa.

A NIPCO employee is pictured here splicing fiber optic cable.
Fiber optics enables NIPCO to carry communications faster and further, across the NIPCO system.

Fast forward several more decades and NIPCO, once again, is on the leading edge of utility communications strategy. NIPCO's goal is to connect all of its distribution substations, throughout western Iowa, through an intricate fiber optic system in order to provide state-of-the-art data connections to its facilities for developing electric and smart grid needs. This project is underway and is estimated to be completed in 2022. Once completed, NIPCO will have a large fiber optic network reaching into the heart of rural western Iowa, designed and built to support an unlimited communications potential.

NIPCO realizes the value in establishing a robust fiber optic system and does work with national, regional, and local businesses to leverage this asset for the betterment of the rural western Iowa community by offering dark fiber.

For more information on how you can jump onto NIPCO's communications highway, contact us.