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AEC is on the move with Fiber Broadband options. This page is intended to bring our members up-to-date on where AEC currently stands in this process of engaging broadband services.
October 2020 -
As of today, we have built approximately 600 miles of fiber, passing over 8,000 member homes and businesses, at a cost of around $11M. Some of our members have asked why we choose to start with building out high-density areas in Jefferson City and Dandridge first, since they may have had some options already available; and the reason is simple, it was to provide the revenue we’ll need in order to extend broadband service to less-populated areas. This Jefferson City / Dandridge area represents phase 1 of our construction plan and is expected to be completed by the end of 2020. We have now begun building out the grant areas in New Market and Piedmont, where about 2,200 locations will have access to service within the next 90 days. By the end of this year, our goal is to have passed around 13,000 homes and businesses—almost a third of those that we have the ability to serve.
AEC’s Board has approved moving forward with engineering plans for another 17,000 locations for our next phase. This will include about half of Grainger County, as well as areas served by our Oak Grove and White Pine substations. We were very fortunate to receive an additional $2.8M from the State of TN for broadband deployment which will go a long way in helping offset the costs for the build out.
August 2020 -
Trilight + AEC continue to work diligently to bring you the best in fiber services! As of August, just under 500 miles of fiber optic cable has been installed in the AEC service area and together with Trilight, we just celebrated the connection of our 500th member. Things are moving quickly and you can be confident in knowing “we’re headed your way soon”!
AEC continues to have a dozen contract crews in the field each day installing fiber optic cable. These crews have installed fiber on the poles passing by over 6,500 homes and businesses in our service area. Current work areas include locations on Highway 92, South and East of Jefferson City and moving South and West along Highway 139 in Dandridge. AEC’s goal to have fiber build out from the Jefferson City and Dandridge substations by December 2020 is still on track for completion.
Work continues to progress quickly in the New Market and Piedmont substation areas, where we anticipate completing our State Grant areas by the end of 2020.
AEC has been successful in obtaining a grant for the Tampico area of Grainger County. The Co-op also hopes to have success in the next grant cycle from the State of TN, which will target areas in the Oak Grove and Swansylvania communities. With grant funds, these areas could be under construction by 2nd quarter 2021. AEC remains committed to build out our fiber network to all AEC members, and grant funds help us get the project done with an overall lower cost, but also may change where we go next for the build.
What started with an announcement at our Annual Meeting in September of 2019 is promising to be a huge success. By December 2020, just 15 months into the process, AEC expects to have fiber available to over 14,000 homes and businesses, representing approximately 30% of the total membership. Trilight + AEC, We Are Power With Purpose!
June 2020 -
As of June 15th, AEC has 400 miles of fiber optic cable deployed in the service area. This fiber optic cable passes approximately 5,500 homes in Jefferson, Hamblen and Grainger Counties. Fiber installation is complete on the north side of Hwy 11-E and the east end of Jefferson City. Fiber work is now being installed out of the Flat Gap Substation serving the south side of Hwy. 11-E and Hwy 92.
Locations with fiber availability through the Dandridge substation include the north side of I-40 (Milldale, Chestnut Grove, Goose Creek), West along Hwy 25-70 (historic Hills, Matthew Estates and Dalton Road areas) and downtown Dandridge area. Work plans will also move south of Dandridge into the Muddy Creek and Sandy Ridge areas served by the Dandridge substation.
It is expected that the Jefferson City, Flat Gap and Dandridge substation buildouts will be complete by the end of 2020.
AEC also has fiber available to approximately 200 homes in west Hamblen County. This would be in the Rolling Acres, Greenbrier Road areas;
Grant work is underway in the Indian Cave – Buck Hollow area served by the New Market Substation. Plans call for approximately 75% of fiber cables to be completed by the end of 2020 – accessible to those homes and businesses served by the New Market substation. This grant area also covers approximately 50 homes in the Mitchell Bend area of Grainger County.
The next area for construction will be the grant area in Piedmont community. Crews will begin stringing fiber north of I-40 in the McGuire Road, Shields Ridge and Harold Patterson Road areas. This construction should begin in fall of 2020. The remaining areas served by the Piedmont substation are scheduled for completion in early 2021.
By the end of 2020, AEC expects to have fiber access to over 13,000 homes and businesses. The Co-op has up to 12 fiber crews in the services area, working daily to expedite installation.
Work plans for 2021 also include the Tampico area of Grainger County, including the Buffalo Springs and New Corinth areas. This is part of a $500,000 grant that AEC received this year, for the underserved area. A new Grant request will be sought to help begin the build out from the Oak Grove substation to serve areas east of Dandridge, the Oak Grove community and the Swansylvania area. Construction plans for 2021 call for an additional 11,000 homes to have access to fiber optic service.
Construction plans can always change based on weather and other variables. Thank you for your patience as we build the best local fiber network in East Tennessee. AEC – transforming our communities through service driven innovation.
For the latest information on Trilight services, visit their website at www.trilight.net or contact Trilight at 833-847-0824. To learn more about fiber service at your location, please visit our Fiber Availability Map on our website.
April 2020 -
Construction crews continue to work on installing fiber optic cable in the AEC service area. Crews in Dandridge have crossed I-40 and are working on the north side of the interstate. Jefferson City crews are working in the May Acres, Green Meadows and Willow Garden Circle area, east of Jefferson City. To date, fiber services have passed 2,437 homes and businesses. The goal for phase 1 is to complete the buildout of the Jefferson City Substation and the Dandridge Substation by the end of 2020. This will render fiber available to over 11,000 homes and businesses. Good News – crews have begun work in the New Market area of the State grant. Approximately 6,500 homes and businesses are within the New Market and Piedmont grant area. We continue to update our available fiber map on our website. For more information on fiber services, contact Trilight at 833-847-0824 or visit www.trilight.net
March 2020 -
AEC Fiber continues to be installed as part of Phase 1 in the Jefferson City and Dandridge service areas at a rapid pace. Contract crews are currently working East of Jefferson City, including parts of Hamblen County in the Rolling Acres Subdivision area, and also within the city limits. Additionally on the North and East sides of Dandridge and within the city limits. As of this month, fiber is accessible to over 2,132 Co-op homes and businesses! To learn more about fiber service at your location, please visit our Fiber Availability Map on our website.
Trilight has launched a new website at www.trilight.net. From this site you can view pricing, broadband speeds, channel lineups, phone packages and much more. Signing up and pre-registering has never been easier. Call Trilight at 833-847-0824 for more details.
Engineering work has begun on the New Market / Piedmont Grant Area. This grant will also apply to approximately 58 homes in the Mitchell Bend area of Grainger County. Crews are set to begin fiber installation in May. For a map of this grant area, click here. The grant area itself provides fiber optic cable to more than 2,200 homes. The Appalachian Regional Commission Grant for the Tampico area of Grainger County was announced in February and work on this area will begin in 2021.
January 2020 -
Trilight is now taking service orders for phase 1 in Dandridge. Connections also continue in Jefferson City. For a look at the available fiber locations in both communities, please see the drop down menu under fiber services. This map will be updated as new areas become available. Trilight & AEC will celebrate our 100th member connected with blazing fast internet services, robust TV options and crystal clear Voice services this month. We continue to work for you!
December 2019 –
Trilight is here for AEC Members! Trilight+AEC has begun working service orders for fiber connection in the Jefferson City substation service area. Approximately 16% of the phase 1 service area in Jefferson City is now ready. Our expectation is to begin working service orders in the Dandridge phase 1 area in January. Business service options have been finalized and will be available to commercial and industrial members in the phase 1 areas of Jefferson City and Dandridge. Local crews continue to connect requests on a daily basis. The phase 1 area in Jefferson City and Dandridge, which is expected to reach about 11,000 Co-op homes & businesses, is projected to be completed by the end of 2020. For additional questions or to sign up for fiber services, contact us at www.aecoop.org/fiberservices or call our representatives at 833-847-0824. Of course, you can always stop by our Trilight office at AEC, located at 1109 Hill Drive in New Market.
AEC continues to work diligently on obtaining additional grants and resources to locate fiber options throughout our electric service area. Beginning in the fall of 2020, Trilight+AEC will launch construction of the New Market / Piedmont grant area.
November 2019 -
AEC main offices are now connected to fiber services provided by Trilight! AEC’s Board of Directors has announced that phase one of the broadband project has been launched. The communications facilities at the Jefferson City and Dandridge substations have been installed and Trilight is conducting testing. AEC crews have approximately 10% of the substation fiber buildout completed and work is continuing. Trilight expects to be ready to receive signups from AEC members in those completed locations in November.
New Communications equipment installed at the Jefferson City and Dandridge Substations
October 2019 –
AEC announces partnership with Trilight to provide fiber services to the home. AEC will build and manage the fiber distribution lines and Trilight will offer retail services for multimedia-rich, future-proof fiber services, like fast Gigabit internet and crystal-clear television and voice service. Construction is currently underway for phase 1, which is a build out from our Jefferson City and Dandridge substations. The estimated completion date for phase 1 is late 2020. For more information, questions or comments you may reach Trilight Customer Service (toll-free) at 833.847.0824 or visit www.aecoop.org/fiberservices.
September 2019 –
AEC plans to make a major announcement concerning fiber services at the 79th Annual Meeting. The meeting will be held at the Great Smoky Mountains Expo Center in White Pine, TN on Saturday, September 28, 2019. The event begins with registration from 8:00 am until 10:00 am. The business meeting will begin at 10:00 am. Please join us as we announce new ways to bring value to your home, business and life. AEC, We are Member Owned & Service Driven!
August 2019 –
AEC has multiple contracted engineering crews in the service area completing work on fiber optic installation plans. AEC is committed to building a 100% fiber optic network to meet the growing needs of our membership. We know that high-speed internet is an essential service, linked to an enhanced quality of life and AEC is committed to bridging “the digital divide”, and fostering economic health and prosperity. This multi-year project is designed to be able to stand on its own financially and will be built on a phased approach. Ultimately, AEC’s plan is for fiber services to be available to all cooperative members. AEC’s core mission of providing electricity will not change.
June 2019 –
AEC is seeking a Fiber Network Coordinator to add to their resources in Fiber deployment. This position would direct the fiber buildout in the AEC service area. The Cooperative also plans to go through the bid process and select a contractor for Fiber buildout in July. All AEC employees will engage in specific training sessions during the months of July and August to enhance their knowledge of fiber services.
May 2019 –
The Cooperative has announced that Brad Peels has assumed the position of Outside Plant Supervisor in the AEC Fiber Services department. Peels begins work this month. AEC has selected a contractor for fiber engineering services named, Vantage Point. Members may see these field contractors working in the service area during the coming months. Vantage Point contractors will have vehicles that are clearly labeled as contractor for AEC. AEC currently owns and maintains over 155 miles of installed fiber optic cable throughout our service area.
April 2019 –
AEC names Electrical Engineer Blake McNew as new Director of Fiber Services, effective April 8, 2019. As Director, McNew will oversee all aspects of fiber installation, in support of broadband deployment.
March 2019 –
AEC Board of Directors approve a working relationship with a broadband partner and engage in identifying and procuring engineering resources for the ability to launch broadband services. AEC was awarded a 1.7 million grant from the State of TN for use in providing opportunities to underserved / unserved areas of rural TN. The AEC grant is designed for portions of the New Market and Piedmont sections of our service area, including approximately 35 homes in the Mitchell’s Bend area of Grainger County. These funds will address needs to approximately 1,800 Co-op members. Click here to see if your property is located in the grant location.
October 2, 2018 –
AEC Executive Vice-President and General Manager Greg Williams, addressed the membership of the Co-op during the Annual Meeting with the following statement: "I can state that AEC will be embarking upon a definitive plan to bring broadband access to our service area." AEC Board of Directors continue to work diligently to hammer out the details for the specific model that the Co-op will pursue. The goal is to keep pricing and services very competitive and to offer broadband access to every AEC member.
September 24, 2018 –
AEC continues efforts to secure grant opportunities from state and national resources. AEC General Manager, Greg Williams will address the membership concerning broadband and many other issues at the 2018 Annual Meeting, to be held at the Walter State Great Smoky Mountain Expo Center on Saturday, September 29, 2018. For more information about the Annual Meeting, please contact our Member Service Department at ext. 1880.
September, 2018 –
The broadband progress was significant over the past month. The management team and key staff of AEC spent two days in discussions and presentations concerning options available to the Co-op.
The AEC Board of Directors spent additional time in discernment at a special board meeting on August 24th. The broadband issue is a huge decision for AEC, but one our board is committed to embrace. The board has identified two good options for moving forward. They will now take a deeper dive into the financial models of each option. In either option, AEC will build and own the fiber infrastructure.
The co-op continues to install fiber optic cable and estimates they will have approximately 150 miles of fiber installed by the end of 2018. AEC's goal is to create a strong fiber backbone by getting fiber to all of its substations, as they will serve as the hub for any broadband deployment. Currently, AEC has fiber installed at all of its substations with the exception of Rutledge, Oak Grove, Copper Ridge and Bean Station. These remaining substations will be the priority moving forward.
August, 2018 –
An expected called meeting of the AEC Board of Directors is scheduled for August 2018. The Board will review all data related to the broadband options and render a decision on plans to move forward.
June, 2018 –
AEC Board held a special meeting with our consultant Vantage point. The Board reviewed proposals and looked at both a partnership model and a Do-it-yourself (DYI) option. Additional information was requested for due diligence. The AEC Board approved moving forward with a Marketing Feasibility Study, to be conducted by telephone, over the month of July. This action will be led by the third party firm CRONIN.
March, 2018 –
AEC released the RFP. Submitted proposals were sent to the AEC Board for review at their May meeting. A very important component of the RFP is how the deployment will work. Many of our members will want to know where we go first. Currently, we are reviewing a model called “Crowd Fiber™” for deployment. This process puts the responsibility of determining where we build fiber first, on our members. This model would divide our service area into “zones” which will require a predetermined number of committed members to sign up for service before we build. This process creates a much more stable financial model than to just build fiber and hope that members sign up for services.
December, 2017 –
AEC initiated a working relationship with Vantage Point, a broadband consultant who prepared formal reviews of the RFI responses, and developed a framework overview of what the Request For Proposal (RFP) for a broadband partnership might look like.
September, 2017 –
The AEC Board of Directors approved moving forward with a Request for Information (RFI) for a partnership model to deploy broadband to all AEC members. Results from the RFI showed that we had four (4) very capable vendors that were interested in a broadband partnership.
June, 2017 –
AEC continues to build out fiber for the electric system with plans to install over 400 miles of fiber over the next 2-3 years. AEC fiber is designed to support the electric system; however, it also has excess capacity for other uses (such as broadband).
AEC has received numerous calls and emails in support of our Co-op moving forward with broadband opportunities. This report is intended to bring our members up-to-date on where AEC currently stands in this process of evaluating and engaging broadband services. Why become involved?
“Concern for Community” – one of our 7 Cooperative Principles
Recognition that our members are actively requesting this service
We understand the benefits – economic development,competition, medical and educational opportunities
Our Board understands that we should have a role to play in helping to improve this technology gap
Fiber is future proof
One strand of glass to each location can bring video, voice and broadband - only limited by today’s electronics on either end
The discussion about broadband actually began over two years ago when several of our cities in Jefferson County approached MUS Fibernet about providing service into their respective areas. Current State law prohibited a municipal from extending their broadband service outside their electrical service area; however, MUS is the only municipal in the State that has a rare exception. They have been given the right to extend their broadband services within their own county and into AEC service territory only if we give them permission. That was accomplished several years ago when MUS extended Fibernet along Kidwell Ridge Road, however they have not chosen to
expand any further.
As a result of the requests from White Pine, Dandridge, and Jefferson City, MUS directed them to talk with AEC about how we might engage in a broadband project. It was these discussions that led to a Feasibility Study in 2016 conducted by Magellan Advisors as a jointly funded effort between the cities, AEC, and MUS (to review the full study, click on the link at the top of this page). Highlights of this study revealed a significant gap in the availability of broadband service to our members. About 20% do not have broadband available at all, and most everyone else only has one supplier option; therefore, no competition is available. When asked the question, “Do you consider broadband a utility”, over 75% of residential households said “yes” and over 86% of businesses concurred.
TN Broadband Accessibility Act:
The Tennessee General Assembly passed the Broadband Accessibility Act, and Governor Haslam signed it into law on April 24, 2017. This Act lifted the long-time restriction on electric cooperatives from offering broadband internet services. The new bill also opened the door for electric cooperatives to offer video (TV) services (Cooperatives were already able to offer telephone services.) Even though the bill opens the door for TN electric cooperatives to offer these services, there are also several restrictions. The bill prohibits cross-subsidies from the electric business to the telecommunication business. Therefore, an electric cooperative would have to create a new business company to offer these services, separate from the electric business. Additionally, the law is very specific that if an electric cooperative chooses to provide these services, they would be required to offer them to their entire existing electric service area (area coverage requirement). There are also restrictions about the use of existing poles and their attachments.
Check out the link for AEC Broadband Feasibility Study