Although traditional telcos were the big winners in the broadband stimulus program, quite a few utility companies—including North Alabama Electric Cooperative–also won funding. The company, which won funding for a fiber-to-the-home network, today announced that it would use several products from ADTRAN in that network, including the Total Access 5000 multi-service access and aggregation platform, the Total Access 300 optical network terminal and a range of NetVanta routers and switches. An announcement of the win issued by ADTRAN today notes that the products combine broadband and smart grid architectures to deliver business and residential services.

Although some utility companies applied for broadband stimulus funding for broadband powerline technology, few awards were made for BPL projects. FTTH projects, such as the one involving North Alabama Electric Cooperative, were considerably more successful.

Electric companies are looking for ways to bring broadband connectivity to end customers’ homes as a means of supporting two-way communications between smart meters in those homes and the power distribution network—and FTTH is one of several connection methods, including wireless, that utilities are considering for that link. Recognizing the need for broadband access technology, some power companies are considering delivering high-speed Internet services to their customers over the same link. In the case of North Alabama Electric Cooperative, that approach enabled the company to qualify for broadband stimulus funding.

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“The Total Access 5000 combined with ADTRAN’s broadband portfolio has allowed us to become a model in the industry,” said Bruce Purdy, general manager of North Alabama Electric Cooperative, in today’s announcement.

“Cooperatives from throughout the country are calling us for details of our deployments and asking to tour our facilities. They want to replicate the success we have experienced by offering entirely new, cutting-edge, revenue-generating services to existing electric customers.”

North Alabama Electric Cooperative serves 18,200 subscribers and is one of Alabama’s 23 rural electric cooperatives that deliver power to more than 1 million people, or one-fourth of the state’s population. Rural electric cooperative power lines cover more than 70 percent of the state’s land mass and serve consumers who live in the most sparsely populated regions of the state.

“We are excited that North Alabama Electric Cooperative has selected ADTRAN’s broadband portfolio as the backbone of its new GPON and Active Ethernet triple-play deployment,” said P. Steven Locke, vice president of service provider sales for ADTRAN’s Carrier Networks Division. “With ADTRAN’s broadband portfolio, cooperatives like North Alabama now have a clear course to quickly and easily address smart grid deployments along with the voice, data and video needs of their customer base.”

ADTRAN’s approach to FTTH uses a combination of GPON and active Ethernet—the two technologies that are primarily used for FTTH networks. But at least one player in the utility company FTTH game is using a third alternative.  Pulse Broadband is partnering with utility companies to build and operate FTTH networks for those companies based on what Pulse calls a “distributed tap” architecture, which the company claims is more cost-effective.

Nevertheless, ADTRAN has chalked up numerous wins with service provider customers in recent months, often involving the Total Connect line and broadband stimulus projects. Recent wins include CTS Telecom, Beggs Telephone Company, NTS CommunicationsEastex Telecommunications Cooperative, and Westex.

But perhaps ADTRAN’s biggest win of all was to support Frontier’s commitment to bring higher-speed broadband to service areas it purchased from Verizon.

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