The 70-year-old municipal electric company and its board began eyeing new ventures three years ago, when the directors asked city and state leaders to separate the Johnson City Power Board from the city as its own governmental entity.
After the separation was granted, the new organization, renamed BrightRidge, hired consultants to draw up a plan for offering broadband services to thousands of its current electric customers using a direct-to-home fiber optic network in the more populous areas and a system of wireless transmitters in rural areas.
The first connections will be made next year in the downtown Johnson City area, in Piney Flats and in Jonesborough. From there, the utility will expand its services each year for seven more years.
According to the business plan, which has been approved by the Tennessee Valley Authority and the State Comptroller’s office and will go before the Johnson City Commission next month, BrightRidge will offer packages similar to those offered by competing telecommunications companies, with television, telephone and internet speeds up to 10 Gbps.
BrightRidge leaders have said the pricing of the products will be competitive with those of the for-profit companies, but so far, they have not released a specific menu of services.
Even without complete details, Senior Reporter Robert Houk wrote that several people at a public meeting last week were eager to become BrightRidge broadband customers, either to escape what they said were oppressive fees and lax customer service of legacy cable companies, or because no broadband service was available at their rural homes.
That’s why we want to hear from you. Will you sign up for BrightRidge broadband? Why or why not? If you’re undecided, what information will help you make up your mind?
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