Japanese Delegation Visits Chattanooga And EPB

Thursday, February 14, 2013
NTT-East group with EPB President and CEO Harold DePriest
NTT-East group with EPB President and CEO Harold DePriest

EPB was honored to host a group of Japanese representatives of Nippon Telegraph & Telephone Corporation East in Chattanooga on Jan. 31 and Feb. 1. The company is Japan’s premier provider of phone, television and Internet services.

The delegation met with EPB’s team that led the design and construction of our Smart Grid. As NTT-East continues rebuilding it’s legacy and fiber optic networks following the 2011 earthquake and tsunami, engineers wanted to see first-hand how the Chattanooga community took advantage of the latest fiber optic technologies.

The magnitude 9 earthquake and resulting tsunami of March 11, 2011, was the worst natural disaster to strike a developed country in modern history. More than 15,000 lives were lost and more than 100,000 buildings were destroyed. Electric power distribution and communication systems in northeastern Japan were left in ruins.

But the resiliency of the Japanese people was amazing. Most services were restored within 50 days. As Japan continues rebuilding it’s communities and core infrastructure engineers with NTT-East want to ensure their systems will be compatible with future demands and technologies.

While learning how EPB’s team integrated multiple platforms of communication with a fiber optic Smart Grid, the Japanese delegation said they were most impressed with EPB’s management style, which is “horizontally” structured. That means boundaries between EPB’s departments and managers are erased as people work together to achieve common goals.

“It’s an all-hands on deck approach,” EPB President and CEO Harold DePriest said. “You can’t solve problems just with automation, you need people in work groups who are collaborative and work as a team with boundaries removed.”

The Japanese delegation’s visit included time spent at EPB’s new operations center to see first-hand how EPB technicians work to install fiber optic services in homes and businesses. Officials said, "They said they were truly impressed with EPB’s commitment to customer service and satisfaction. Equally impressive was to see how EPB Fiber Optics can deliver one-gigabit Internet service to all of its more than 170,000 customers in its 600 square mile service area."

The NTT-East team included Mr. Gaku Yamda, manager of Core Network Center, Network Business HQ; Mr. Junichi Kagesawa, assistant manager of Service Management and Network Technology Core Network Center; and Ms. Sayaka Sekiya, assistant manager of Service Management and Network Operation Core Network Center.

The NTT-East delegation will make its presentation on what it learned from EPB to senior management in Japan in March.

The NTT-East team is the latest international group to visit Chattanooga and EPB. The growing list includes representatives from Ireland, Israel, Denmark and Columbia.


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