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A MESSAGE FROM SUNSET

 

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We know you have questions. See if the FAQs below help answer some of them. If you have others, don’t hesitate to contact us.

Sunset is still working to gain the approvals required to close on the OptiNet purchase. The latest target date for closing is Spring 2017.

Submitted Cumberland Plateau Board Member Questions

At the April 11th meeting, the CPC board voted to review the contract and vote on April 18th. The final vote on the proposed transfer of the operating responsibility from BVU Authority to Sunset Digital Communications, Inc. will be held on April 18.  This meeting is the main and final (final) vote.
No. Sunset is not purchasing the asset interests held by Cumberland Plateau Company, Inc. or the Cumberland Plateau Planning District Commission.
Sunset is only buying BVU network assets. This is basically all of the network in Bland, Wythe, Smyth, and Washington Counties and the City of Bristol, and the BVU portion (roughly half) of the assets in the Cumberland Plateau counties of Tazewell, Russell, Buchanan, and Dickenson. Cumberland Plateau owns the other half of those counties’ assets, and BVU operates their half by agreement. A new agreement to replace that one has been what CPC and Sunset have been working on for 15 months. April 11th is the day that the agreement is voted on, up or down. 
CPC stands to gain a projected $21M over the next 13 years from this agreement. Sunset is going to be investing millions into the region, and has committed at least $6.5M over the next 10 years. CPC will receive a percentage of revenue off the top, which means that the more revenue Sunset can generate, the more CPC will make.  
Sunset is not purchasing any CPC assets.  Sunset is only buying assets held by BVU, which includes at least 50% of the network assets inside the four-county area of Cumberland Plateau. CPC will continue to own their half of the network in those four counties like they always have. However, if anyone is concerned that BVU received enough money, the purchase price has been deemed fair from the point of federal and state agencies involved.  In addition, as part of the purchase agreement with Sunset, BVU is required to obtain a Fairness Opinion from a third party that will validate that the price paid was within a fair range. 
It is understood that there may be past issues between Cable Plus and BVU. After Sunset assumes responsibility for the network, Sunset intends for Cable Plus to continue as a customer of the network as long as they desire, and has written letters to Cable Plus to let them know of Sunset’s intentions.  Sunset has several wholesale customers and anticipates no change with Cable Plus services unless they desire an upgrade.
We’ve been invested in the Southwest Virginia community since 1996 and we have no intention to leave. Our financial partners share our commitment to our business plan and commitment to the region. Connecting people is a requirement to fulfill the Sunset mission, and we expect to be doing this for decades to come.
True. Sunset has committed to these numbers as long as credit-worthy customers are available and pending engineering designs to determine feasibility.
Sunset is not purchasing the asset interests held by Cumberland Plateau Company, Inc. or the Cumberland Plateau Planning District Commission. Sunset is only buying assets owned by BVU. Sunset does expect invest millions into network expansion, and to pay Cumberland Plateau Parties millions in revenue from operating the CPC portions of the network over the coming years.
CPC will be part owner of a growing network with a strong contract with Sunset that ensures millions of dollars of revenue to them for decades. While the total ownership percentage will go down (assuming they do not reinvest their money), the revenue will go up, and all other rights will remain the same. 
Sunset is not buying CPC’s assets, so CPC will continue to own what they own today, PLUS Sunset is going to transfer ownership of millions of dollars worth of equipment to CPC so that they own much more after the agreement is signed than they did with BVU. Sunset expects this to clarify the issue between BVU and Cumberland Plateau on understanding who owns what.
The first thing we do is look at who is on our map that wants service, so it is important for people to sign up on our website at https://www.sunset-fiber.com/optinet/ .

The sign-up data populates real-time, and you only have to do it once. It also helps if you tell your friends and neighbors. Then we look for clusters of demand (maybe a neighborhood or a winding road) that have asked for service. These groups help minimize the cost to connect and let us connect more people at once. Then we look for houses and businesses off that route that have requested service that we can spend a little extra to connect at the same time. Engineering comes next, and our engineers drive around looking at the existing pole lines, and determine how to get people connected. They drive wrapped vehicles so they are easy to spot, and that usually shores up demand in a given area (lots of people don’t believe we are coming until they see us).

We specialize in serving those rural customers who have no hope of ever being served by the larger “broadband” companies. Sometimes a zig or a zag in the cable route is all it takes to get them at the same time, and sometimes it takes a longer build. We do not have a rule that prevents us to connecting anyone, and initial reviews of the household locations in the CPC area indicate that 90% of homes are going to be accessible for Sunset’s buildout. The other 10% will just take a little more work. We expect it to take 5 years to connect roughly 10,000 locations in the CPC area, though we’ll aim for more than that if we can. There will likely always be a waiting list for Sunset services, but as we grow, the time spent on that waiting list should reduce dramatically. Rome wasn’t built in a day, but you’ll see us out working hard to make it happen every day.

Oh, we almost forgot! We have encouraged CPC (and they have expressed a desire) to be involved in helping us target unserved areas. To that end, as part of this agreement, Sunset and CPC will form a broadband advisory council to keep a constant dialogue about areas in need of connectivity. We can’t wait to work together!

In short, we’ll build where there is demand for our fiber services. Also, the coax in a cable and the twisted pairs in a DSL networks can’t send signals as far as the light used in Sunset’s fiber optic network. That means we have a longer reach naturally. If you want learn more, it can be pretty interesting (well, to us anyway).
After 15 months of negotiation, it is safe to say Sunset is committed. Sunset is also committed to spending money where it operates, which is Southwest Virginia. We will spend our money to expand the network to more homes and businesses. Will they sign up? We think so, and we think they’ll be thrilled with Sunset services.
Fifteen months is a long time to review an agreement, and we think they’ve done a great job negotiating their side. The millions in revenue they will make from the agreement alone are amazing. In the end, they will have something incredibly powerful – a contract with Sunset that generates a percentage of revenue off the top, which means it will become more valuable as we connect and serve more people.
If the agreement is approved, we will begin merging the companies, hiring where necessary, and start training immediately. It will take some months of training and cross-training to get members associated and working together seamlessly and to gather the equipment and materials necessary for them to do their jobs.
Would they do that? We hope not. We’ve put a lot of faith in them to respond, and followed their desired process, and this meeting was scheduled by them specifically for this vote, but you never know.  At the end of the day, the Sunset team members can look each other in the eye and say “We did our best.” We are so proud of everyone that carried this ball to the finish line, and to them we say thank you. Your time away from family and conference calls over weekends and holidays (and even, sadly, a few funerals) did not go unnoticed. Whatever happens tonight, with co-workers and friends like you, the future will be an adventure.

 

Purchase Process

Sunset has notified BVU that it has selected its financial partner. This accomplishes one of the conditions of the transaction. We were pleased to do that weeks ahead of schedule. Everyone who has been following the transaction understands that the approval of the Cumberland Plateau Planning District Commission and the Cumberland Plateau Company are significant steps.
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BVU OptiNet Employees

No, we have committed to taking nearly 80 OptiNet employees, and with the growth we intend to require for network expansion, we are going to need even more people.
Yes, we are working with multiple providers and insurance carriers to make sure that we can provide the best benefits packages possible. Existing retirement packages will be handled in the way that preserves their value the most. No one should expect to lose what they have worked for.

Current Customers

It should not affect you at all. Your price, your bandwidth, and the great level of service you’ve always received will not change because of this purchase.
It should not affect you at all. You will still continue to receive the great level of service you’ve always received.
No. In fact it will allow Sunset to catch up on The List much faster. This purchase brings about new capital and a larger workforce that will be tasked in catching up the waiting list of soon-to-be customers immediately.
We’re still combining our great service offerings, however, current customers should rest assured that bandwidths will not go down and prices will not go up because of the purchase.

Potential New Customers / Unserved Areas

We expect the expansion will include the Virginia counties of Washington, Russell, Dickenson, Buchanan, Tazewell, Smyth, Bland and Wythe. All these of course will be in addition to current areas.

Current service areas of Sunset & OptiNet:

Virginia: Lee and Wise Counties, the City of Norton, the City of Bristol

Tennessee: Hancock and Claiborne Counties with business services in Johnson City and areas of Kingsport

It will take several months to close on our purchase of OptiNet. After that, the build out process should begin as we bring on teams for construction and focus on areas of high interest. If you want to be one of the first, you need to make sure your friends and neighbors know! We expect the entire project to span at least 5 years of dedicated work.
Right now Sunset and OptiNet packages, though similar, have some differences. In the coming months we will be working on likely combining them into one set of options. Two things are for certain: bandwidths will not go down and there will be plenty of options with residential packages all the way up to 1 Gbps download.

Expect more from your service providers.


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