Jackson Energy Authority employs Adtran for its 1 Gig FTTP service initiative

Jackson Energy Authority (JEA), a public utility created under a private act passed by the Tennessee Legislature, is implementing Adtran's Gigabit GPON equipment for the next chapter in its fiber-to-the-premises (FTTP) story.

Already serving 18,000 residents with FTTP services since 2004, JEA says it is going to make the 1 Gbps service available to a larger number of residential and business customers than any of the traditional cable MSO and telcos can in Jackson, Tenn.

Initially using a Wave 7 Optics proprietary FTTP system, the company realized that the current platform could not support 1 Gbps, Ben Lovins, senior vice president, telecom for Jackson Energy Authority, told FierceTelecom.

"When we launched our network in 2004, it was a proprietary network with Wave 7 Optics, which was one of the early vendors and we still have running today that's limited to 100 Mbps ports," Lovins said. "Just because of the age of the equipment and desire to go to 1 Gig offering we decided to move forward with GPON."  

Due to the amount of time it takes to swap out equipment both in its network and at the customer endpoints, JEA estimates the $8 million-$10 million project will take three years to complete. However, the service provider will upgrade customers to the 1 Gbps service upon request when it becomes available.  

"We'll go ahead and upgrade customers to the 1 Gbps service as requested, but to get the 18,000 endpoints upgraded and the CO gear, we're forecasting that in our five-year plan it will take 36 months," Lovins said. "You're not going to have to wait 36 months if you want to get the 1 Gbps service today."   

Local Jackson businesses and schools already are using 1 Gbps services.

The service provider has multiple 1 Gbps Active Ethernet connections to all of the area schools with a 10 Gbps connection back to their CO. They also have a number of universities and a Fortune 500 company connected to the higher speed services.

Another element that helped drive JEA to use the Adtran platform was the option to scale not only to 1 Gbps, but whatever service demands lay beyond. JEA has also been using the vendor's integrated access devices (IADs) at its customer premises to deliver Active Ethernet-based point-to-point services to residential and business customers.

"The old system wasn't really scalable for the way we're designed on our system so we knew we had to go to a PON architecture," Lovins said. "The other things is we don't think it's going to stop with 1 Gig, because the future is going to bring us 10, 40 Gbps, and that's one of the reasons why we went with Adtran."

After it gets its billing interfaces in place and completes testing, JEA plans to start offering the 1 Gbps retail service to business and residential early next year.

Taking a page out of the Google Fiber (NASDAQ: GOOG) playbook, JEA plans to offer a triple play bundle with 1 Gbps for less than $100 a month.

One of the key points where it is eager to take the service is the multi-dwelling unit (MDU) segment where you can provide services to multiple customers right away.

"From an operational standpoint, we're real excited about multi-dwelling applications where you might do a 32 PON, but you may have several hundred customers behind that so we're able to segment that up," Lovins said. "We'll have the bandwidth speeds to support that."  

Lovins added that having the GPON architecture will give it an upper hand over traditional cable providers like Charter, whose services are mainly delivered over hybrid-fiber coax (HFC).

"We believe the future of GPON vs. an HFC architecture is going to be critical because we're also seeing more demand for upstream bandwidth," Lovins said. 

While providing residential services is a key focus, the service provider is also keen on creating an attractive community for businesses.

Among its many activities is its participation in an entrepreneurial program called The Co. and driving economic development. Like Chattanooga's CO.LAB, The Co. is also set on driving the creation of new businesses.

"We're going to continue to work with folks and try to partner with US Ignite and work with local public health providers to improve quality of life in Jackson," Lovins said.

For more:
- see the release

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