1TN Announces Amnesty Program

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

1TENNESSEE ANNOUNCES AMNESTY PROGRAM FOR CABLE THEFT

NOVEMBER 23, 2018 - HUMBOLDT, TN - In an effort to reward honesty, and prevent an overload of installation requests that could push new installs out weeks, 1Tennessee is rolling out an amnesty program for households using illegal cable TV connections.

“We have several hundred homes throughout our service area committing cable theft,” says John Warmath, President of 1Tennessee. “We came up with a program that will help us reward those customers who are willing to fess up. All you have to do is visit 1tennessee.net/amnesty or give us a call at 784-5000. We have a few questions and we’ll charge a non-refundable $99 fee to guarantee your place in the installation queue.”

Residents that take advantage of the amnesty program will get to keep their illegal connection until 1Tennessee can schedule a legitimate installation. Additionally, 1Tennessee will agree not to pursue criminal charges or civil damages against anyone who chooses amnesty. As a final perk, they’ll take half off any past due balance on your account, if you have any. That’s a pretty good offer considering the alternative could be thousands of dollars in fines or even jail time.

“We aren’t looking to put people in jail for cable theft… but we will if we have to,” says Warmath. “All we are asking for is honesty moving forward. Regardless, these illegal connections are going to be useless once we finish our digital upgrade in a few weeks.”

Take advantage of the amnesty program by visiting www.1tennessee.net/amnesty or calling 784-5000.


The Un-Cooperative Cooperative (and how it affects our members)

GIBSON ELECTRIC, THE UN-COOPERATIVE COOPERATIVE

The Start Of A David vs. Goliath Battle Over Internet Access: How Gibson Electric Is Wasting Member Money and Boosting Executive Salary while Violating Basic Cooperative Principles

Gibson Electric Membership Cooperative recently announced their electric rate increase. Buried in the Tennessee Magazine, as usual, was the announcement by CEO Dan Rodamaker followed by self-addressed questions and answers. The questions they chose to address tell us a lot about who they are as a “cooperative”.  

local utility meter charges.png

Before this rate increase, Gibson EMC already had one of the top 5 highest electric rates of the over 100 local power companies in the TVA system! For instance, Medina customers who are on the Milan Utility system pay an average of $20 less per month, per household for the same electricity, than Medina residents on Gibson EMC using the very same TVA power. Not only are the per KWH rates at the top of the TVA system, their fixed rates are as well.  Also buried in your monthly bill is the fixed cost for the meter. Here’s how they stack up on this

front…

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How can this be? We think we have at least one possible explanation.

While Rodamaker claims their newest rate increase has nothing to do with Gibson Connect, all other evidence points to the contrary. The cost of a buildout for Gibson Connect is astronomical (tens of millions of dollars) - estimated at $72 million by Charles Phillips, Gibson EMC’s VP of Engineering.    

Meanwhile, 1Tennessee (formerly Click1) already provides the exact same services that Gibson Connect aspires to: telephone, internet and television services. In Gibson’s projected expenditures (of which the $1.3 million grant is a drop in the bucket), it will cost nearly $2,000 per household to build out their Gigabit fiber system. By contrast, 1Tennessee already has 1 Gigabit modems in most customers’ homes and, for an investment of less than $50 per home, 1Tennessee is turning up 1 Gig service before December 31, 2018 at no additional cost to members.

The $72MM Gibson Connect buildout will leave Gibson EMC with a massive amount of debt. Translated: Gibson EMC electric rates may go even higher as Gibson Connect struggles to service its debt - that affects all of us since we don’t have a choice of where we buy our electricity.   

Telecom overbuilds are incredibly rare, and almost unheard of in rural settings like ours. A look at other utilities that built out fiber networks illustrates this foreboding warning. High debt has resulted in the failure of all but a few of these utility-owned internet providers, and the rest continue to struggle with crippling debt. But that’s not even the most alarming part.

Within the next 5 years, this debt-ridden wired build out will be challenged by compelling wireless competition: 5G cellular and LEO satellite broadband connections. Upon the introduction of 5G cellular service, and satellites operating in Low Earth Orbit (instead of way higher up), almost everyone in West Tennessee will be able to access the internet at faster speeds and lower prices. In other words, their projections are just plain wrong, and they didn’t even ask us, their member-owners (and handcuffed ratepayers), for our thoughts about it before engaging in this risky endeavor.

To us, this is a David vs. Goliath battle for our customers. We have offered to work with Gibson EMC many times over the last decade to expand rural broadband. They were never interested. Upon their launch of Gibson Connect, we reached out about a partnership, merger, or acquisition, which would have cost our mutual member-owners much less than their proposed expansion while bringing our experience and expertise to their ranks. Again this fell on deaf ears.

Over the last 12 months, I have personally reached out, multiple times, by email and postal service, to every GEMC board member and to Mr. Rodamaker with no response. Their argument for overbuilding other cooperatives cannot possibly be lower costs to the consumer - at least not in the long run. You don’t have to look farther than your electric bill to prove that they are conglomerate-like in their waste and government-like in their spending. Mr. Rodamaker, whose annual salary is around $400,000 (not including additional perks), could take a lesson from the smaller, more nimble providers of internet, telephone and cable service like 1Tennessee. Maybe if they spent less time lobbying legislators and more time talking to their members they could learn to act like a real cooperative - serving their member-owners.

Rodamaker once told me in person, ‘My Board (the one “elected” to represent us) does what I tell them to.’ I was floored, but there you go… that’s how they operate. That’s why we call them the un-cooperative cooperative.

We are doing everything in our power to protect our members from this risky, expensive duplication of services, and future electric rate increases. The law protects electric cooperatives like Gibson EMC from competition. Maybe that’s why they act like this. They aren’t interested in what’s right for their members or building rural broadband - their worried about protecting, and growing, their inflated salaries by generating revenue wherever they can even if their member-owners have to shoulder the debt.    

Perhaps, with advancements, and cost reductions, in distributed energy sources such as solar power, cooperatives like 1Tennessee should consider providing electricity to their existing customers. Oh wait, that’s against Tennessee State Law. For now, we’re stuck with this government-sanctioned monopoly operating under autocratic rule controlling our electric rates - and, now, gambling even more of our money to boost their personal bottom lines.

I, for one, won’t take it lying down.  What about you?   

John Warmath, President

1 Tennessee Broadband TV and Telephone Coop, Inc.



A Model for the Future

Congratulations! Welcome to 1 Tennessee...

On July 3, 2018, we filed articles of conversion with the Secretary of State, which formally converted Infostructure, Inc. (owned by the Warmath family) to 1 Tennessee Broadband, TV, and Telephone Cooperative, Inc. (owned by all of us who use the service(s) provided by our cooperative). 

While your ownership in this organization is new, our company has a long history here in West Tennessee. Founded in 1964 as The Courier Chronicle Inc. by J. Frank Warmath, we consider this our family farm. This week, you became a part of that family. This decision didn't come quickly or lightly... it all started in early 2016 when we decided to walk away from our third major offer in as many years. Selling the family farm to a big corporate cable operator would have meant a large chunk of change, but when it came down to it, it just didn't feel right. 

That's when we started to explore what we call "models for the future". Customer loyalty and engagement are important to us, as is attracting talented employees. Continuing rural broadband expansion as we have since 1999 was also a priority in our decision making process. As we made some much needed upgrades in 2017 that we had put off during the potential sale(s) process, we started to think about what we wanted this company to be in the future.

Early in 2018, we began to explore the benefits of becoming a cooperative. First and foremost, it means that our customers (you) will become stakeholders with real control and transparency, as well as a ensuring a lasting commitment to our communities. The move also opens up so many new paths forward for rural expansion, from grants and low-interest loans to tax exemption, which will allow us to serve more West Tennesseans who currently lack adequate access to these vital services.

At first, we thought this was crazy: private companies with strong businesses don't give up control and profits. But when it came down to it, we figured we've always done things a little differently - let's do it again! 

Broadband and advanced communications are tools that cannot be underestimated in the ways they can change lives. Moving forward, it has become clear that our company, and our network, will be better off in the hands of the people who rely on it to make a living, educate themselves, and lead happy, fulfilling lives.

We are proud to have made this decision and so excited for what the future holds for the people and communities served by 1 Tennessee: Your Co-op. 

Onward and upward, 

Frank, John, and William Warmath

TVA Earth Day

Dear Mr. Johnson and Members of the TVA Board,

As we celebrate the 48th annual Earth Day, there are many reasons to reflect on what we’ve learned since April 22, 1970 and consider what those lessons mean for our collective future. We have come to understand that burning fossil fuels contributes to global climate instability. We have watched tragedies unfold like the BP Oil Spill and the Kingston Fly Ash Spill that cost hundreds of millions of dollars to clean up (which still shows up in our monthly bills), not to mention the effects on our air, water, and wildlife. We have watched as our electric bills steadily creep up and up and up. Now it’s time we ask ourselves why we continue to abide by the status quo.

The TVA Act mandates TVA to act “in the interest of the national defense and for agricultural and industrial development” and “to control the destructive flood waters of the Tennessee River.” In order to lawfully meet this mandate, TVA must invest heavily in renewable energy such as solar and wind. Solar and wind are the lowest cost energy options; why does TVA continue to stifle renewable investment with its pathetic offerings and lack of a Renewable Portfolio Standard? The new offer is lower than net metering and discourages even small-scale solar investment. Ten megawatts per year is a pittance. Investing in fossil plants is to mortgage our future, not just environmentally but also economically.

Renewables are some of the fastest growing job markets in the world. They provide low cost, reliable electricity. By the time we have a meaningful portfolio of solar and wind, battery storage will be reaching economic viability. Continuing to burn fossil fuels, which emit atmosphere-warming carbon dioxide (amongst other dangerous chemicals), hurts our economy and fuels storms that directly, and indirectly, increase flooding in the Tennessee River. Furthermore, the Department of Defense, along with every branch of the U.S. Military, has stated that global climate change is among the highest risks to our national defense. In other words, TVA is in violation of its Charter multiple times over. For what? To pay executives millions of dollars per year, buy new airplanes, and hide bad investments (i.e. stranded assets)?

We understand that distributed generation is bad for TVA’s bottom line. However, TVA exists not to generate profits but to act in the best interest of the people of the Tennessee Valley and the people of the United States of America. It’s high time that TVA find the courage and strength to press forward and become a leader in renewable energy and sustainable development. For the good of us all, let’s make the Tennessee Valley a beacon of hope for our future and the future of our children.

Investing in solar and wind will create jobs, lower electric rates, and protect our planet. It’s time for TVA to act!

Thank you,

Pulling the Trigger on FTTH

Click1 is ramping up Fiber-to-the-Premises

Fiber optics allow us greater control over our system and, thus, over your end-user experience. 

Today marks the beginning of an exciting future for Click1. We have just committed to ramping up Fiber-to-the-Home and Fiber-to-the-Business services. This is our second step on the path to 1 Gigabit speeds, higher upload speeds, and improved consistency across our plant. This gear has been field tested over the last several months, which allowed us to identify the best industry partners and ensure a smooth rollout. Today, we sent the purchase order for the equipment we already have plus more. We are officially announcing our fiber-to-the-premises plans today!

You are the first to know.

Fiber allows us a greater level of control throughout our system by eliminating problem-causing gear that’s required to operate traditional coaxial cable. We are excited about the opportunity to offer higher speeds, improved consistency, and overall better service. This is just one of many changes we are making this year. We couldn’t do it without great customers like yourself… we are committed to offering you the best experience possible.

“Without continual growth and progress, such words as improvement, achievement, and success have no meaning.”
— Benjamin Franklin