E26 - Richard Carpenter at EPB

Richard Carpenter

By Richard Carpenter

During today’s episode, Harry Stephenson, Senior Network Consultant on the USA team sat down with Richard Carpenter, Assistant Vice President, Technical Operations at EPB. They discussed his time in the U.S. Air Force, contributions to the community he’s making and the massive changes he’s seen in the last 10 years.

He joined the military in 1996. He knew he wanted to get into electronics one way or another and ended up in Telecommunications with the Air Force, which laid the foundation for where he is today.

After leaving the Air Force, he joined EPB in 2005 as a Telephone Switch Technician, where he stayed for 5-6 years. When they decided to launch fibre optics, they created a new team called network operations, so Richard joined that department. After 6 months, he became a supervisor. The engineering team opened a managerial position and got the job in 2013 and was promoted to Senior Manager in 2016.

When it comes to the common argument on what the best route to take is… certs or university? Richard says both paths are successful. They have people at EPB who have done either and all of them are great at what they do. Both are important but it all comes down to the individual and which path works best for them.

Some of the significant changes he’s seen in the industry are that technology is constantly changing. When EPB first launched a 1-gigabit community-wide internet service in 2010, Apple had just launched the iPad and Netflix was the only major video streaming service. Customers consumed 10-12 gigabits of traffic; they now need 400 gigabits in a day.

Since the interview, EPB launched the first community-wide 25 gigabit internet service, as part of the utility’s work to draw new business investment and creation and future-proof the fibre optic network so it’s prepared for when customers need more bandwidth.

When it comes to EPB, they’re constantly looking at technology to see how customers use or need them, constantly looking at how these technologies will benefit the customer and seeing a huge difference in the community.

More on EPB…

Established as the municipal power utility for the Chattanooga region in the 1930s, EPB launched fibre optic services back in 2010. They had to install about 14 thousand miles of fibre optics in the area, adding internet and phone services to their offerings.

EPB is committed to a mission of enhancing the quality of life in their community. At the outset of the COVID-19 pandemic, schools closed and shifted to remote learning. With a community-wide fibre optic network already in place, EPB partnered with Hamilton County Schools to ensure that every K-12 student in need had access to high-speed internet at no charge through a program called HCS EdConnect. Today, the program continues with more than 16,000 students, who with their families represent more than 28,000 people, using high-speed internet for education, telehealth, remote work and more. This made a huge difference to communities in the area, which essentially provided them with a strong network during difficult times.

It’s not always plain sailing though. Richard talks through the biggest networking disaster that he experienced at EPB. EPB links to multiple national internet carriers. When one had a massive nationwide outage, it affected numerous ISPs across the nation. Service should’ve been transferred to other carriers, but due to a problem with IP routes, forcing the Network Engineering Team manually released IPs from the affected carrier.

Richard talks through the most important skills you need to get into the industry. Don’t miss what he has to say, tune in now!