EPB Passes 50,000 Customer Mark For Fiber Optics Offering; Set To Pass Comcast

Friday, August 23, 2013

EPB officials said Friday they have passed the 50,000 customer mark for their fiber optics offering and are slated to pass Comcast in local customers sometime next year.

Harold DePriest, EPB president, said its highly successful EPB fiber optics venture is adding about 200 residential customers a week.

The initial business plan set a 28,000-customer break-even point and a "topping out" of 43,000 customers, he said.

He said the service, using the system's highly-touted fiber optic grid, has performed so well that it is providing enough annual income to cover the entire $19 million debt payment for the electric side of the business.

That saves electric customers from having to pay more on their monthly bills, Joe Ferguson, board chairman, said.

Mr. DePriest said Comcast had some 122,000 customers on the EPB grid when EPB launched its rival program. He said Comcast is down to around 75,000 and will likely drop to around 60,000 next year.

He said 70,000 customers "is very doable" for EPB Fi TV.

Mr. DePriest said other utilities in other cities want to emulate EPB's success and are coming here to learn how to do it. The staff had a recent visit from the utility at Opelika, Ala.

He said EPB has formed partnerships with Opelika, Jackson, Tn., and others in helping their TV efforts.

Mr. DePriest said EPB staff is helping provide certain services for those fledgling efforts and that is yielding additional income for EPB. The utility will make $1.2 million over three years under one contract, he said.

He stated, "Our folks have been through it. We can help them avoid mistakes."

EPB Fi TV, which has a new push to get more business customers, had $7.6 million in net sales last month.

Mr. DePriest said EPB is also drawing international attention for its succeses. He said it recently hosted a group of 17 utility personnel from Brazil.

He said, "They chose to visit us, Washington, D.C., the Kansas City offices of Google and Silicon Valley. We are in some pretty good company."



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