BY William Bradford, President and CEO
For over 75 years, United Communications has built our company around the mission of offering the latest telecommunications solutions with a commitment to putting our customers first. In the 1950s, that meant running miles of lines to fulfill the promise of universal telephone service for rural areas in Middle Tennessee. Today, we’ve evolved to become one of the country’s top fiber-to-home internet service providers — providing some of the fastest and most reliable broadband internet solutions to customers across eight counties in Middle Tennessee.
While numerous factors contributed to our longevity and growth, one of the most influential elements has been our relationship with Middle Tennessee Electric. This year, we’re proud to celebrate the fifth anniversary of becoming a subsidiary company and extension of the MTE family. Two local companies, both dedicated to enhancing the quality of life in our service areas, have formed a synergistic relationship that positively impacts thousands of residents and businesses in Middle Tennessee.
I want to take a few moments to highlight the opportunities created through becoming a service of Middle Tennessee Electric and celebrate a few of the milestones we’ve achieved together over the past five years.
The Opportunities and Benefits Created Through Our Connection
1. We combine resources and experience to improve the quality of life in Middle Tennessee.
MTE was founded in 1936 as part of national and state efforts to bring electrical power to rural areas of America during the Great Depression. Since then, they’ve grown to become the second-largest electric co-op in the United States. Today, they serve over 750,000 Tennesseans and rank in the top 6% of electric utility companies for customer satisfaction, according to the national J.D. Power electric utility survey.
Over the past five years, our alliance with MTE as an extension of their company has allowed us to combine resources and decades of experience to rapidly expand our ability to offer broadband internet to customers while also maintaining a commitment to excellent local customer service.
2. We provide enhanced network reliability for United customers.
Reliability is one of the most important factors when choosing an internet provider. We recognize how vital it is for residents and businesses to have a dependable internet connection. We don’t believe in cutting corners when we build our network. By operating with Middle Tennessee Electric, we can utilize their existing pole and conduit infrastructure. Leveraging established infrastructure provides a foundation for consistent service delivery, allowing us to build the most reliable internet network in the region, with the least amount of disruption to our neighbors and communities.
3. We provide an easy and friendly customer experience for MTE co-op members.
As a subsidiary of MTE, we are a member-owned entity. For example, this means that all MTE co-op members have an invested stake in our company, and we are dedicated to ensuring that all our members benefit from our services. We work hard to create a personal, easy, and solution-oriented customer experience. For example, new MTE members moving to the area can schedule their internet installation simultaneously when they set up their electric service.
4. We invest in solutions that enable us to offer the best possible experience for our customers.
Another opportunity created through being a part of MTE is the ability to continually invest in the next generation of internet solutions. Whether it’s rolling out multi-gig services to our residential customers or offering symmetrical speed options for our business and enterprise customers, we care about providing world-class solutions to our neighbors across Middle Tennessee.
As a leader at United Communications, I’m proud of the industry-leading customer experience we’ve created, which has earned us some of the highest ratings in the industry — a 4.7 Google Business rating and an 83 Net Promoter Score. I’m also excited about the ways we can continue to invest in customer service experience. For example, we are exploring new technology that allows us to proactively reach out to customers if we see poor in-home wireless performance or any network-related issues that could be impacting their service.
Celebrating Noteworthy Milestones and Achievements
While the opportunities created are exciting to celebrate, it makes even more of a difference when you recognize the tangible impact our collaboration has made in the lives of folks across Middle Tennessee. Here are a few noteworthy milestones and achievements I’m proud to remember from the past five years:
1. Launching Project UNITE, our initiative to provide broadband access to underserved areas across Middle Tennessee.
One of the primary goals of integrating with MTE was to accelerate efforts to provide broadband internet access to underserved areas across Middle Tennessee. In 2020, we launched Project UNITE as our primary initiative to achieve that goal. Since then, we’ve experienced dozens of noteworthy moments, including supporting the Boys and Girls Club of Middle TN and receiving a $53.4 million grant to expand fiber services — the most significant single investment in state history. By the end of this year, over 20,000 locations in Middle TN will have access to broadband through the Project UNITE initiative. These are homes and businesses that never had access to real broadband
2. Deploying infrastructure to lay the groundwork for an electric Smart Grid.
Middle Tennessee Electric has committed to investing in Smart Grid technology to improve the efficiency, reliability, and power quality of its electric service. Smart Grid is a new generation of technology that combines telecommunications and electrical distribution networks. This is a major step forward in reliability. For example, widespread outages that may have taken hours to locate and repair in the past can be isolated to the exact location within seconds.
As part of the MTE family, we’ve supported reliability enhancements for the company’s electric grid and laid the groundwork for a true Smart Grid network. As a result, MTE members will experience faster response times, greater power quality, and more opportunities to use smart home devices.
3. Supporting our local communities and connecting with customers and neighbors at local events.
At the end of the day, connecting with people is what makes our work so rewarding. MTE and United share a passion for investing in our communities and getting to know our customers and neighbors. Whether it’s volunteering together with Habitat for Humanity or supporting the Wilson County Fair, some of my favorite moments have occurred while meeting new people and hearing customer stories.
We’re proud to be a part of the Middle Tennessee community and committed to making it a better place for everyone in whatever ways we can.
Looking Ahead to An Exciting Future
Five years ago in August, we announced our partnership for broadband at the Peytonsville Volunteer Fire Department. At the time, the fire hall was located in an area that had been requesting broadband for more than 17 years. Through our joint efforts with MTE, the Peytonsville Station became the first of many rural and volunteer fire departments that United has equipped with free broadband internet as a way to support our local communities.
We also continue to make tremendous strides in our effort to expand fiber internet to residents and businesses across our area. Most recently, we announced plans to expand our fiber internet infrastructure in Murfreesboro — creating 1,400 route miles of new lines to serve an additional 77,000 residents and businesses.
Building a More Connected Middle Tennessee
We have deep roots in our community, and we recognize that our company wouldn’t exist without our customers and the strategic partnerships we’ve been able to cultivate over the years. We’re incredibly grateful to be a subsidiary of Middle Tennessee Electric, and we’re proud of how our work has enhanced economic development in communities across our service area.
You can learn more about our connection to MTE or our recent announcement about expanding efforts in Murfreesboro in the resources below:
President and CEO of United Communications
With over 20 years of executive experience in telecommunications management, William Bradford has guided United Communications to become a leading provider of internet, digital TV, and phone services for enterprise-class businesses and residential customers in Middle Tennessee. His passion for bridging the digital divide in rural communities led to Project UNITE, an initiative to provide fast, reliable broadband service to every under-connected home or business in the Tennessee mid-state region. William was recently recognized as one of the most influential technology leaders by Nashville Post’s In Charge List. He is the past president of the Tennessee Telecommunications Association and is actively involved in industry trade groups. William graduated with honors from Wake Forest University with a degree in Mathematical Economics. He and his family live in Brentwood, Tennessee.