Addressing the fiber rumors

November 1, 2016

 • BY Ron Holcomb

An increasing amount of questions are being asked about Tipmont’s fiber implementation, so let me use this opportunity to describe the project and its many benefits.

What’s happening now and why

Tipmont is currently installing fiber lines across its system to improve electric service reliability and operational efficiency. Fiber-based communications improves Tipmont’s command and control capabilities when connected with an array of distribution system equipment. The benefits include reducing outage times by isolating trouble areas on the grid more quickly, avoiding outages altogether by having better visibility to asset performance and optimizing system performance by reducing energy losses.

The fiber build is on track for completion in 2018 and will connect all 22 of Tipmont’s substations.

Will implementing fiber cause my bill to increase?

No, it will not. The investment is part of our normal system modernization operations budget.

Will Tipmont provide communication services?

When Tipmont surveyed its membership in mid-2015, part of the survey asked whether Tipmont members were interested in communication services from Tipmont, which basically means providing Internet access to your home using fiber optics.

The survey was divided into three regions: north, middle and south. That geographical categorization helped us understand where needs are not being met.

A chart shoing how many Tipmont members do not have access to broadband (25+ MBPS)Not surprisingly, 93% of Tipmont members in our southern service territory do not have access to broadband service, defined by the FCC as a 25 Mbps or greater connection (see nearby chart).

In the middle region, about 50% of Tipmont members are underserved. Access is better in our northern service territory, but still, 28% of members don’t have access to broadband service.

This survey information, coupled with ongoing member feedback regarding the lack of adequate services, provided the evidence necessary to encourage a formal study process. The study will help determine how to best make offering broadband services financially sustainable for the long-term.

The study will include a second member survey in early spring 2017. If you receive it, please take the time to fill it out. Your feedback is very important as we consider this important step.

Tipmont’s Mission

Tipmont’s mission is to “empower our communities by providing state-of-the art essential services.” We at Tipmont know that broadband access is essential to the American way of life in 2016. You can be assured that as we continue to build fiber optics to optimize our electric services, we will continue to investigate how we can best leverage these fiber optic resources for you.

I look forward to your thoughts.

Ron Holcomb

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Ron is a 30 year veteran of the electric utility industry with extensive experience in power supply, advanced grid technologies, essential service operations, economic development and value-driven growth initiatives for combined electric and telecommunication utilities. During his career, he has led three utilities as President/CEO and provided management consulting to utilities across the country. Ron joined Tipmont REMC as CEO in summer 2013. He holds a B.S. in Physics from Austin Peay State University and an MBA from Murray State University.
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