EPB, which has thrown off legal challenges from the cable industry, is preparing to buy the control equipment for its planned residential telecommunications network, officials said Monday.
“We’re ... coming down to final negotiations with our electronics vendors to secure the equipment that will allow us to offer these advanced communications services,” said Katie Espeseth, vice president of EPB’s communications division.
The contract for the so-called head-end, or control, equipment should be signed by the end of the month, Ms. Espeseth said. Installation of the equipment will start later this year in an EPB bunker at Oak Street and Greenwood Avenue that will serve as the fiber control center, she said.
EPB has set aside $22.8 million for fiber telecommunications capital costs.
EPB is wrapping up negotiations to buy telecommunications control equipment. After that, utility officials will select cable program content.
EPB continues to build a smart grid upgrade to the electric system, she said, which will also serve as a component of the residential telecommunications system. EPB plans to start offering telecommunications service after the first of next year to areas yet to be determined. Utility officials estimate it will take five years to offer service to all its customers.
EPB Chairman Joe Ferguson said the courts have spoken on the legality of the utility’s plan to offer video, Internet and telephone services to residential customers.
“Those court cases have ruled in favor of EPB and the Chattanooga community,” Mr. Ferguson said. “And they have dismissed those charges. And we’re here today to say it’s time to move on.”
Hamilton County Chancellor Frank Brown last Friday dismissed Comcast’s lawsuit against EPB, which had charged EPB’s plan would illegally use electric revenue to subsidize the cable venture. A Nashville judge last month threw out a similar lawsuit by the Tennessee Cable Telecommunications Association, a trade group of which Comcast is a member.
Comcast officials could not be reached Monday for comment.
Chancellor Brown’s ruling said EPB is following the law, and acknowledged the Tennessee Valley Authority and the Tennessee comptroller properly signed off on EPB’s fiber plan, said Aldous McCrory, EPB’s vice president of legal services.
EPB’s residential fiber plan will not be subsidized by electric system revenues, contrary to what the cable industry claims, Mr. McCrory said.