Long-time Hexagon Safety & Infrastructure customer and Chattanooga, Tennessee’s, city-owned electric utility EPB was recently ranked as the best utility in America for consumer satisfaction for its TV and Internet service. The rank is based on surveys by more than 172,000 subscribers of Consumer Reports magazine reporting on their experience with home internet, pay TV, and telephone service.
So how does a municipally-owned broadband service operated by a public utility outrank nationwide service providers like Charter/Spectrum fiber, AT&T U-verse fiber, and Comcast/Xfinity cable? Value, reliability, speed, and customer service are great reasons. But another factor that shouldn’t be overlooked is EPB’s innovative and forward-thinking approach to providing utility services.
In 2009, EPB was awarded $111.6 million in federal stimulus to build a smart grid. To connect its grid sensors and devices, EPB needed to build a fiber optic communications network. EPB selected Hexagon Safety & Infrastructure to add fiber optic network design capabilities to its existing utility geographical information system built on Intergraph G/Technology.
Powered by Intergraph G/Technology Fiber Optic Works, EPB was able to quickly engineer its smart grid from the same data elements used in G/Technology’s original model of EPB’s utility network. By 2010, EPB built the nation's first communitywide 1-gigabit-per-second internet system.
The benefits from EPB’s smart grid project have been twofold for Chattanooga residents. With its fiber optic communications network, EPB was able to establish a broad coverage area for high-speed Internet capabilities using fiber infrastructure. In 2015, EPB’s network offered 10-gigabit-per-second service and was ranked faster than Google Fiber by Wired magazine.
The other benefit to residents have been EPB’s ability to provide next-generation electric services to its customers, making operations more efficient and reducing outage response times. During a one-year period, EPB saved more than six million customer outage minutes by restoring power with automated switching capability using the electric and fiber network infrastructure.
EBP is setting a standard and example that many municipal utility providers should mirror. Congratulations to EPB for being recognized as America’s utility provider for best TV and Internet service.
With more than three decades of enterprise technology experience, Kurt Nolte works with electric, water, and gas utility providers to develop solutions that serve strategic initiatives and efficient business operations.