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Fortnightly Magazine - November 15 1998

say that we actually provide a flow of "holes" where electrons were, but I hope they will allow me this more convenient description.

In operation, we find that the information flowing back to our operations center relative to the performance of the broadband network actually helps us find trouble and potential trouble on our power network. We have been able to use this information and the newfound communications capabilities with our substations and other devices on our network to dramatically increase the reliability of our electric power product.

When we started offering cable television service on our new broadband network, we really started making discoveries. We found that our customers gave us a new level of respect for our efforts to bring them something they could get from no one else; truly competitive, cost-based, rates for cable service and an opportunity to choose from multiple providers. We discovered that people really like programming featuring local events like government meetings, school activities, local sporting events, local talk shows. They even love to see District Small Claims Court on television! We would have never guessed it before our voyage, but we discovered that becoming a conduit for bringing these local events into the homes of our customers makes us more welcome in the homes of our customers and cherished in their hearts. Finally, we found that there is no more reliable method of getting information about our services into the minds of our customers than utilizing the "commercial insertion" opportunities afforded to distributors of cable programming by nearly all of the major services like CNN, Discovery Channel, TNT and others.

Our discoveries in the provision of high speed computer networking may be the most exciting of all. We provide a flow of bits for everyone. If you are one of our electric customers and you are about to buy your very first home computer, we will provide expert advice to you on which machine to buy. When it arrives, we set it up and teach our customers how to access information on the Internet through our network.

On the other end of the spectrum, if you are a business or industry that needs a high bandwidth bit pipe to another location in the community or to other locations via the Internet, we can provide you with a dedicated fiber circuit to meet your needs. Once our bit service is established to one of our customers, we have a constant interactive relationship with them. We can e-mail them to inform them of our power system status. We can explain the reasons for outages and give them advice on helping us prevent them. They can e-mail us to report that the street light in front of their house is out or to request additional information on their power or cable television charges. We can establish our homepage as their homepage, again reinforcing our position as the "well of knowledge" for our community. The same customers that find it convenient to have an electric utility that can furnish them anything from a flow of electrons for a