When we launched Auburn Essential Services (AES) over five and a half years ago, I don’t think any of us realized just how much it would grow. We knew we were providing a much-needed Internet option to businesses, but I don’t think we fully grasped just how much our product line would expand, nor how broadly it would reach.
Now, the next venture for AES is TV. It’s something that’s been in the works for awhile—and we know our customers are anxious for this service. We’re periodically asked why it’s taken so long when funding was approved in early 2010. It’s a fair question and the answer has many parts. Let me see if I can address a few of them here:
- Coordination with Fiber Construction: The launch of TV is a coordinated and parallel effort with the fiber infrastructure. We’re in the midst of securing financing to finish the fiber construction in future service areas so we can broaden our service, increase volumes and, ultimately, better serve the long-term health and viability of AES. We anticipate making service available to all homes within the Auburn city limits by the end of 2012. We expect the remainder of Auburn Electric service territory to be complete by fall of 2013. Check out the project status for a detailed service availability map and to track the construction progress.
- Complexity: Without a doubt, building a brand-new, sophisticated utility is challenging. And TV is the most complicated product offering we’ve undertaken to date. There are more diverse players… multiple touchpoints in infrastructure, content, technology, transmission and delivery… a much larger scale… and a whole new level of coordination—with some elements out of our control.
- Content Providers: Unfortunately, securing content from national providers is not cut and dry. While we’ve joined a large, regional consortium to negotiate better deals, not all channel programmers will negotiate with consortiums, so we’ve had to pursue a number of one-off contracts with programmers. It’s a long and arduous process—but one we’re committed to in order to secure the product packaging our Auburn focus groups told us they wanted.
- Coordinating Delivery: We identified our delivery access system provider (the Set Top Box and user experience in the customer’s home) early on, but they recently experienced internal problems and will not be ready to launch AES TV. While this has resulted in a delay that is requiring us to slightly modify our direction, we’re even more satisfied with our new provider—they offer a platform that we believe will result in a more positive user experience, greater flexibility, richer options and a more sustainable delivery system.
I hope this gives you a better understanding of where we are in this process. I don’t like that the launch of TV has taken longer than we originally anticipated, but I am certain that when we launch, it will be done right—and worth the wait. We refuse to give you anything but a quality product. So, as they say in television, stay tuned!