The Fiber to the Home (FTTH) Council presented its annual North American Star Award to South Louisiana-based service provider EATEL.

In business through its subsidiary East Ascension Telephone Company since 1935, EATEL began deploying fiber to homes in 2004. The company brings local and long distance phone, television and high-speed Internet services to more than 30,000 customers.

“EATEL is recognized by industry professionals for the high level of their employees’ technical expertise and the company’s level of professionalism,” FTTH Council board member Patrick Sims said at the FTTH Conference award presentation in Houston on Tuesday morning.

Sims also mentioned how the company “repeatedly repaired and rebuilt their network” after damage from Hurricanes Katrina, Ruth and Gusav.

EATEL has more than 300 employees, a third of whom work in the company’s Yellow Pages division.

Accepting the award was EATEL President and COO Robert Burgess, who said FTTH technology gave his company the means to compete against triple-play provider Cox Communications.

Burgess said EATEL’s use of fiber optics allowed the regional telco to create “as much of a fortress as is humanly possible.”

“It’s simple and only one word: Survival,” Burgess said, describing the impact of EATEL’s use of fiber optics. “It has be been a most ferocious weapon. I think that Cox would agree, given our market share.”

Burgess declined to detail that share, but referred to a marketing message saying that EATEL’s broadband service is “preferred four-to-one.”

The Louisiana native, a self-described telephone man, devoted most of his acceptance remarks to a story about the American flag and a disabled U.S. Marine veteran, saying the sudden death of an assistant last year has prompted him to speak more from the heart. His comments underscored a fighting spirit.

“Cox will be a formidable competitor,” Burgess said, in a follow up interview.

Competition and adversity may have raised the bar on both sides. Communications Technology recognized Cox Greater Louisiana as a top tier system last year, noting its similar resilience in overcoming the natural disasters that have afflicted the region. (For more, click here.)

—Jonathan Tombes

The Daily

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