In 2010 when Chattanooga became the first city in the United States to offer 1 gig service thanks to our EPB community wide fiber optic network, many other cities across the country began to take notice. When EPB became the first municipality to offer 10 gig service in 2015, that really put Chattanooga on the map. How do other cities start their own municipal broadband? EPB Vice President of New Products Katie Espeseth helps lead that work. That’s one reason she’s been named “Independent Innovator of the Year” by Cablefax Magazine.
“We’re always open to sharing our real world experiences having leveraged one of the most automated smart grid networks to also deliver advanced communications services,” said Katie. “We’re able to help others accelerate their speed to market, provide exceptional service and technical support at launch, reduce their capital costs, improve operational efficiencies, and reduce their overall financial risk.”
Katie serves on several national boards where utilities across the U.S. get together to share ideas. She’s the Board Chair of the national Fiber Broadband Association and a board member of the National Cable Television Cooperative, as well as serving on other national and regional boards.
“Collectively, these experiences enable me to represent the unique interests of members who are network operators and service providers in varying stages of their deployment,” said Katie. “Whether a member is in the planning or launch phase or is operating as a mature business, it’s important that we all stay informed of new technologies and learn from others’ best practices if we want to keep our communities competitive in the global economy.”
EPB has hosted more than 100 different cities, countries, co-ops and investor owned utilities over the past ten years. We currently provide a variety of ongoing services to ten other cities and utilities.
“Communities that have access to broadband will grow and thrive, similar to the way communities did when they were able to have electricity brought to their areas,” said Katie. “I think those communities who have access to these types of services will be the ones that show the real economic growth for everyone, not just for a few.”
COVID-19 has spotlighted the need for universal broadband as people are continuing to have to work and school from home and use telemedicine services.
“No doubt the pandemic has demonstrated the necessity of having access to high speed internet to remain healthy and productive,” said Katie. “The needs for distance learning, telemedicine, work at home applications and basic communications with agencies that provide information and assistance are real. Having affordable, reliable connections is not a luxury – it’s essential.”
The NPR’s Marketplace Tech public radio show recently interviewed Katie about EPB’s work and how we’re helping to decrease the digital divide. You can listen to that interview here.
Katie’s been with EPB for 15 years and joined our team with more than 30 years of marketing and telecommunications experience. Her responsibilities include the continued development of the fiber optics systems, long term business planning and development of new products and services.
“The experience gained as a result of being part of our EPB team that developed and executed a business plan created a model for other utilities, municipals and service providers to follow. This has afforded me a unique opportunity to participate in all stages of development and launch,” said Katie.
Cablefax Magazine naming her “Independent Innovator of the Year” she says is just more national recognition for the work EPB is doing in our Gig City.
“It’s rare that your career gives you the opportunity to play a role in a project that has such impact in your local community,” said Katie. “It’s a real honor to be part of something that is so much larger than each of our own individual efforts. This award is recognition for our entire organization.”
Katie believes that municipalities that bring broadband to their areas have a positive domino effect on their community.
“It’s about serving all residential customers certainly. But it’s also about building an environment that draws companies to you and helps them grow and prosper. That means your kids could come back home after they graduate from college because your area has good, high paying jobs. It really has a lot of different layers of impact to the community.”