Although we are an energy company, we cannot do any part of our jobs without a robust telecommunications network operating behind the scenes. Our ability to capture and communicate the vast amounts of data coming through the devices, equipment, facilities, networks and applications of our smart grid is essential to every single one of our business activities – and our telecommunications needs are growing every day.
It is imperative we have the proper infrastructure in place to support our evolving telecommunications needs and meet both current and future operational demands to deliver high-quality customer service. Much like the aging grid, our telecommunications system is undergoing a significant transformation.
AEP operates one of the largest private fiber optics networks belonging to of any energy company in the U.S. From collecting and transmitting outage updates to customers via our mobile apps to downloading real-time grid data in the field, this network supports everything we do. We are expanding it to meet the data needs of an increasingly digital smart grid, our operations and our customers’ needs. Our investments also support opportunities for the dual use of fiber for grid modernization and enabling Internet Service Providers to make the final connection to areas that lack broadband coverage. This is critical to the economic development and social well-being of our communities. Learn more in the Regulatory section of this report.
In 2017, we began a 10-year, $694 million initiative to modernize our fiber optics system that serves as the backbone of the power grid and our business operations. Our initial phase, the $521 million Telecom Transmission Modernization Program, will continue through 2021. The focus during this initial phase has been to upgrade major fiber optic routes and expand telecom networks to our substations. Through 2019, we have installed more than 2,300 miles of fiber optic cable, with another approximately 1,680 miles currently in process through 2020.