High-speed LCUB Internet 3 to 4 years away?

Farragut residents may be looking at three to four years before Lenoir City Utilities Board’s high-speed Internet is up and running.

Shannon Littleton, LCUB general manager, updated Rotary Club of Farragut members during the club’s meeting in Fox Den Country Club Wednesday, Feb. 22, on the utility’s project to install fiber optic lines and equipment, which he said would serve all electric customers.

“The board met several years ago on this topic, and I’ve had the same conversations with state legislature a few days ago,” Littleton said. “You’ve got to take care of your house … take care of your customers. This is our house … Farragut’s our house … Lenoir City.

“There are 400,000 people we touch from LCUB,” he added. “It came up as a topic, fiber optics. It makes everything work.”

When people say fiber options, “your first thoughts are high-speed Internet,” Littleton said. “That was not what LCUB initially was about. We’ve already got about 200 miles of fiber optic cable in our substation right now.

“A big portion of this project — 85 percent — is the communication side of the electric system,” a high-grade smart system, he added. “That’s about $135 million in this project. The world’s changed in the electric side of the house.

“We have many other things that we do, such as thought location, isolation, restoration process.”

With the fiber optics, “the system will work so quickly that once there’s an outage, it will redirect traffic protons and electrons and get the power restored by,” Littleton said.

He added the new system will isolate outages and manage demand control where and when power is needed.

Additionally, Littleton said the fiber optics would help save money for customers by managing the power, reducing voltage for a customer when electricity is not being used.

“What that does is it relieves a portion of the TVA bill that you pay,” he added.

At the same time, LCUB will be providing high-speed Internet to customers, which is a $22 million investment.

“And this will change our lives,” Littleton said. “We will have the first fiber optic network that runs from the beginning of our system to the end.

“It will make a big difference for things like telehealth services, education and business needs,” he added.

Littleton expects customers’ cost will be $65 per residence per month for one gigabyte of service, and two gigabytes will cost $250 per month.

He noted, however, providing the service to all customers may take some time, as people who are underserved and unserved are first.

“You’d be amazed how many are underserved and not served,” Littleton said. “Literally, hundreds if not thousands have no service.

“If you’ve got good Internet service at your house, you’re probably not going to do well on the waiting list,” he added.

Still, once under way, “it is going to really increase your upload speeds,” Littleton said.

“The utility has completed 200 miles of the project that eventually will cover 2,000 miles and 3 million people.”