CLARKSVILLE, TN – July 9, 2021– In 2007, CDE Lightband built a robust fiber to the premise network to develop and expand their meter data management system, remote meter management and their SCADA system for improved electric service reliability, faster restoration and for operational efficiencies. Also in 2007, CDE Lightband entered the broadband business, delivering high-speed Internet, voice over IP phone services and IPTV services, all via the fiber to the premise network.
From its inception, the broadband division of CDE Lightband faced a great many challenges in access to capital, technology restrictions and growing pains as they worked to get the network performing and the customer base growing. To foster the needed growth and capital intensive equipment needs, the broadband division borrowed $17 million from the electric division with a loan agreement requiring annual payments and interest charges.
“It was a daunting task and a challenging time for all of us as we took a giant leap in the investment for our community and started a new business that was very different from our current business model,” stated general manager of CDE Lightband, Brian Taylor.
As the electric division of CDE Lightband owns and maintains the fiber network the broadband division must pay annual lease payments, loan payments and shared cost allocations totaling upwards of $10 million annually. This has allowed the electric division to build and/or upgrade six substations for a total of $29 million plus an over $16 million campus upgrade and remodel, all out of cash funds rather than take these large investments to the bond market. Other electric grid improvements that the funds paid by broadband have helped to provide include grid automation, AMI and right-of-way for a total of $10 million annually.
Fast forward fourteen (14) years later and CDE Lightband broadband boasts an over 30% penetration within the market with over 25,000 customers and growing. They are the preferred primary provider for two local governments, the school system and university along with many other enterprise level customers and small businesses.
The revenues driven by solid residential and business growth over the past years has positioned CDE Lightband broadband ahead of many operators in financial independence from their electric partner to include a complete pay-off of the $17 million interdivision loan seventeen (17) years earlier than projected. The initial investment made by CDE Lightband of $17 million has paid huge dividends to the electric division with a calculated return on investment over the life of the loan of over $74 million.
“This is a milestone that we have worked hard to achieve and our broadband team and our customers have helped us to be the success we are today. I could not be more proud of the progress we have made and of the important role that CDE Lightband plays in the community,” continued Mr. Taylor.