BrightRidge sets wireless broadband fees

Robert Houk • Dec 19, 2018 at 12:00 AM

BrightRidge hopes to begin signing up customers for its new broadband services in January.

Stacy Evans, BrightRidge’s chief broadband officer, told the utility’s board members Tuesday that fixed wireless customers are expected to be among the first to receive its broadband services. Evans said as many as 1,800 customers could be served by the utility in the first phase.

Those customers could receive fixed wireless internet service of 25 mbps/3 mbps at a monthly fee of $29.99. That cost increases to $64.99 a month for 50 mbps/5 mbps and $89.99 a month for 75 mbps/10 mbps service.

Business plans for broadband internet begins at $44.95 a month for 25 mbps/3 mbps.

Evans said video and voice services are still being worked out, but over-the-top streaming video services and managed WiFi is available for an additional $14 a month. With the added package, Evan said BrightRidge will provide technical support for such video services as Roku, Sling TV and Apple TV.

The utility launched its broadband division in September. BrightRidge’s broadband has a $7.3 million capital budget that is now concentrating on building the infrastructure it will need to provide broadband internet via fiber and wireless technology as part of an eight-year plan.

With speeds of up to 10 gigbits, BrightRidge will reach 32,000 potential customers during the first three years of the plan. At least 8,500 customers will have access during the first phase.

Fixed wireless customers will be among them. Those customers will be served by wireless towers at Persimmon Ridge in Jonesborough, No Fattie Road, Fall Branch and Buffalo Ridge in Johnson City.

 Evans said a map showing wireless areas to be served in the first phase will be posted after the holidays at brightridge.com. 

BrightRidge CEO Jeff Dykes said the utility will add towers as needed to reach even more fixed wireless customers in the coming years. He said ever-advancing technology will allow BrightRidge to serve even more broadband customers than it had projected.

“We are already capable of picking up more customers than we had originally estimated,” Dykes said.

Work is also progressing on the fiber optic components of the broadband plan. Evans said south side portions of Main Street in Jonesborough will be closed between Jan. 7-11 while BrightRidge crews work to install fiber optic cable.

In other board business Tuesday, Dykes said work on the the region’s first solar farm is nearing completion in Washington County, with a ribbon cutting expected to be held in January. More than 41,000 solar panels have been installed on a 40-acre tract off Miller Road between Jonesborough and Telford.

The solar farm, which will be owned and operated by Nashville-based Silicon Ranch, is capable of generating 8 million kilowatt hours of electricity annually.

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