Fast, affordable Internet access for all.
Johnson City Seeks Partner to Offer Broadband Services
According to a feasibility study by the utility, the third-party vendor approach would give the JCPB the best return on investment, balancing low risk with possible profits. The Power Board would provide the “backbone,” while the vendor, working under JCPB’s brand, would provide the “last mile” services and equipment to the commercial customers. The utility’s telecommunications division would be self-sustaining, and have absolutely no effect on electric rates.This seems similar to the approach of Lafayette, Louisiana almost 10 years ago. Lafayette eventually decided to build out the network to residents and all businesses when the ISPs using its network were not able to use the backbone to expand to serve everyone (the economics of building last mile fiber-to-the-home connections rarely coincide with private sector goals of maximizing short term returns). Judging from their projections, Johnson City does not need to hit particularly ambitious targets:
To reach its revenue and return on investment projections, the JCPB would need to capture about 20 percent of the area’s total market for data services, about 15 percent of the market in phone services, and about 5 percent of private data services over five years, based on a market of 3,000 commercial users.However, even those modest goals will be difficult unless they find a good, trusted partner. Most public power utilities have the trust of residents or businesses -- that trust may not extend to whoever they work with.
Lexington, Tennessee is the latest U.S. city that will soon see the expansion of more affordable fiber thanks to the city-owned utility, Lexington Electric System (LES). LES’ recent $27.49 million state grant award will be the backbone of a new initiative that will both improve the utility’s electrical services, and deliver a long overdue dose of broadband competition to the area. The plan is deploy over 2,100 miles of fiber to bring high-speed Internet access to 22,000 residents across Henderson, Decatur, Benton, Carroll and Hardin counties that already receive electricity service from the utility.
Tennessee cooperatives and utilities came out at the top of the heap in the latest round of awards from the Tennessee Emergency Broadband Fund, netting nearly half of all money awarded for the expansion of more affordable broadband statewide. The Tennessee Department of Economic and Community Development (TNECD) awarded $446.8 million to 36 applicants, who are now tasked with deploying improved broadband service to 150,000 unserved homes and businesses across 58 Tennessee counties. All told, TNECD said that 218 applicants applied for a total of $1.2 billion in broadband funding. Of the $446.8 million in awards, utilities and cooperatives walked away with $204.4 million.