AES: 2020 Report and Future Focus
By Chris Schweitzer, AES General Manager
Continued growth, progress and investment were the main messages shared during the AES annual report presentation to Common Council tonight. The presentation provided an overview of the past year and what the growth of AES—now in its 16th year—has meant in terms of people, service, projects and future infrastructure investments.
People, Processes & Technology
The AES brand is a function of our people, so as our subscriber base and portfolio of services have grown, we’ve made adjustments and investments internally to grow our teams and expand and evolve roles.
One example of that is the AES customer service team. For many years, all customer service representatives (CSR) handled every type of request. While the team still focuses on developing CSRs who serve broadly, there is now a concerted focus on building expertise deeply, with CSRs taking the lead on various specialty areas.
The growth of teams has also meant that AES has had to adapt some of its processes to be even more efficient and effective. Growth comes with growing pains at times—but it’s been good as it challenges us to be better. We’ve learned to communicate better and more broadly in order to keep our customers at the core of all we do.
And, as a technology-based company, AES continues to invest in its platforms and infrastructure to bring broadband access, advanced business services and entertainment options to Auburn and surrounding communities. Everything we do with our technology and infrastructure is focused on ensuring the highest level of performance, scalability and reliability. All this is done with our customers and local community as our central focus.
COVID – AES Response
At the onset of COVID-19, our work, school and home lives were hastily altered. AES drew upon on our 15 years of experience to align quickly with the new (and pressing) customer needs. We paused all our migration projects for several months to respond to the community’s requests for immediate bandwidth upgrades and new installations. Through our portfolio of services, AES helped employees as they set up home offices, students as they adapted to virtual learning, and families as they adjusted to doing more online at home. I’m incredibly proud of how our team shifted and to meet this unexpected, critical demand.
Key Projects in 2020
AES experienced record growth in 2020—in terms of subscribers, service improvements/upgrades and revenue. Key projects included:
- Record fiber network construction projects that expanded our customer reach deeper into the greater Auburn area
- Fiber to the Home (FTTH) equipment upgrades and replacements throughout Auburn
- Bandwidth upgrades, expanded and modernized services portfolio (managed WiFi, AES Mobile App, malware protection and parental controls, TV, hosted business voice)
- Garrett’s residential FTTH launch—with the pilot’s initial take-rate exceeding Auburn’s nearly 14 years ago
- Refreshed AES website
The Road Ahead
AES is working to complete its Fiber to the Premise (FTTX) and TV upgrade and migration projects this year. This also includes phasing out some of its aging, legacy systems. AES will continue expansions to both its fiber network as well as its core network’s capacity for assured high performance. The outside plant team is being expanded, so AES will be able to manage more of its own construction projects starting this year. Finally, AES is in the early stages of developing a new customer management and operations software platform. This new platform—which is a multi-year project—will enhance customer team operations, while also affording AES subscribers improved self-service access to their accounts.
There’s great work ahead for AES. We’ll continue to focus on our subscribers as we manage growth and intentionally engage and collaborate with our staff and customers.