When EPB begins testing its 21st century telecom system in March, customers will receive their television service from a building that until recently warehoused 20th century electrical equipment.
Staff Photo by Patrick Smith Steve Clark talks about the computer server room of a newly renovated EPB building at their facilities on Oak Street and Greenwood Avenue. The system is being installed to service their fiber to home customers.
“We’re able to take a structure that was built in the 1970s and was underutilized and provide new services to the community that will be revolutionary,” said Steve Clark, EPB vice president of strategic systems.
The utility is using a building that was constructed in 1972 to house its electronics control system for the fiber-to-the-home network that will provide residential telephone, high-speed Internet and cable television service. The building, near the corner of Oak Street and Greenwood Avenue, was constructed to store electric substation and underground utility equipment, Mr. Clark said, and is part of an 18-acre complex housing 11 buildings supporting various utility operations.
BY THE NUMBERS
* 2,448: Number of fiber-optic lines entering telecom center
* 250,000: Number of splices made to fiber lines in center
* 72: Approximate number of homes that could be cooled by telecom center’s air conditioners
Downtown and surrounding neighborhoods of Chattanooga, plus Red Bank and East Ridge, will be the first areas to receive residential telecom service, EPB officials have said. Several hundred households will test the service in March.
All EPB customers within five years will be able to subscribe, said Katie Espeseth, vice president of EPB’s communications division.
However, EPB will start testing its new control equipment by the end of the month, Ms. Espeseth said. The cable service will be tested at the control center starting in February, she said. The utility is just now starting to test connections between electronic control boxes, said Colman Keane, a senior strategic planner for the communications division.
EPB has been working since the summer to convert the building into a modern telecommunications center, Mr. Clark said. About 150 of 200 computer servers have been installed, and technicians are connecting fiber-optic lines from the outside to lines inside the building, Mr. Keane said. The lines are connected by heating the ends of the glass wires together. Other upgrades have included the installation of backup generators and batteries to provide emergency power to the computers, as well as air conditioning to cool the computers.
Many of the technicians preparing the communications center are vendors supplied by Alcatel-Lucent, Mr. Clark said.
EPB in August agreed to a $66.9 million contract with Alcatel-Lucent to buy head-end control equipment, telephone switches, satellite dishes and set-top boxes for customer televisions, as well as technical support.
The control equipment is worth about $13 million, officials have said.
Concrete has been poured for foundations for 13 satellite antenna dishes that will receive the cable television programming. The antennas will be installed in about three weeks, Mr. Clark said.
Modern electronic door locks are not the only way that EPB is securing the building, Mr. Clark said.
The facility was built to accommodate a large industrial crane as well as storing 30-ton to 50-ton transformers, so the concrete walls are 12 feet thick, he said. That industrial design means the building is well protected against high winds and major catastrophes, he said.