A Tri-Cities power provider is moving forward with plans to expand its services way beyond electricity.
BrightRidge, formerly known as the Johnson City Power Board, hopes to get government approval to start offering broadband internet, cable and phone service.
“We think with some of the technical advantages we will be putting out there in place it will give us the opportunity to give our customers some things they’ve been looking for,” said Jeff Dykes, BrightRidge CEO.
Brightridge plans to spend $64 million over eight years. The power company wants to be able to offer customers broadband internet, cable television, and phone service.
Commercial and residential customers in urban areas could have internet speeds up to 10 GBPS and 75 MBPS in rural areas.
At the end of 8 years, Bridgtridge says services would be available to 75 % of its current customers.
“Our goal at some point in the future is to have all the opportunity for all our BrightRidge customers to participate in our service,” Dykes said.
Many at the people who attended the public meeting said they were excited about the possibility of service options.
“I can’t say enough good things about it, and wish it had happened 10 years ago,” said David Bench, a BrightRidge customer.
Bench said he does have concerns – specifically about the lack of disclosure about pricing for customers and the amount of specifics about the BrightRidge business plan.
“The overriding concern I have is the lack of transparency during this whole research phase,” Bench said. “As of even this evening their business plan isn’t available for an individual to look at.”
Dykes said information about pricing will be released in the next two to four weeks
If Johnson City Commissioners approve the plan at their September meeting, the first installations – primarily in downtown Johnson City and Jonesborough – could begin in January.
A BrightRidge spokesman said the first phase of fiber installation could begin as soon as January. It would happen west of Interstate 26 through downtown Johnson City to the intersection with North Roan Street and in downtown Jonesborough.
As customers get fiber access, they’d have the option of choosing cable TV and phone service as well as broadband.
All Washington County industrial parks would get fiber at same time.
High speed wireless would first be officer from Jonesborough south to Telford beginning as soon as November.