Customer Success Story
Jackson Electric Co-Op Sees 30% Work-from-Home Internet Surge
When the coronavirus crisis forced the shutdown of America, Jackson Electric Cooperative turned it up. Broadband Internet became a lifeline for the residents of Matagorda Bay, Texas, in the U.S., with miles of Gulf Coast beaches and fresh oysters, blue crab, and shrimp. Jackson Electric’s smart community network, built on a foundation of Juniper routing, easily handled a 30% surge in Internet traffic and a 130% spike in subscriber connections.
Exceptional Internet experience despite traffic increase and subscriber increase
Smart meter and Internet traffic with scalable, Layer 3 smart community network design
Wi-Fi hotspot service to address issues of digital inequality
“In the rural areas of Southeast Texas, people are used to commuting to work, but with the stay-at-home order due to coronavirus, they had to suddenly live and work at home,” says Bryton Herdes, network engineer at Jackson Electric.
“Residents called in, saying that they didn’t think they needed Internet before, but now their kids were studying from home and they were working from home,” Herdes says. “If they didn’t have reliable Internet, they would struggle.” “We saw a huge increase in Internet service requests outside of our electric service area,” Herdes says.
Electric co-ops, which are member-owned, were established in the 1930s to provide electricity to rural America. In the last few years, co-ops have addressed a modern utilitarian need—fast, affordable Internet. Jackson Electric offers Internet under the brand MyJEC.net to members as well as to subscribers outside its electric coverage area.
“Our Internet hookups increased 130 percent and Internet traffic went up 30 percent with everyone working and learning from home,” Herdes says.
“Our Juniper network easily handled it.” Jackson Electric’s network handled the traffic surge gracefully. Several years ago, the co-op built a new fiber network to support its electric and broadband businesses.
Jackson Electric relies on Juniper solutions from the core to the metro edge. Juniper’s MX480 and MX204 Universal Routing Platform provide the core routing. The company uses Juniper’s ACX5400 line of Universal Metro Routers for service aggregation at the edge.
Jackson Electric has set out to help in its corner of the Gulf Coast, with plans to deploy outdoor Wi-Fi hotspots for students and their families. “We are looking to work with communities and schools in our area to create a distributed WAN to support Wi-Fi hotspots in different areas so that students can have access to Wi-Fi,” Herdes says.
At the heart of the new Wi-Fi service will be the Mist Platform which offers an AI-driven WLAN platform that is built on a microservices cloud architecture. Mist delivers exceptional network user services by simplifying and automating network operations and troubleshooting. Marvis Virtual Network Assistant is the AI engine built into the Mist platform. “Mist has the richest data I’ve ever seen on a network platform,” Herdes says.
Complementing the Mist platform, Jackson Electric is also using the Juniper Networks EX4600 line of Ethernet Switches in its Bay City, Texas district office, ensuring a superior wired and wireless network experience.
Jackson Electric can use Mist’s wired and wireless assurance capabilities to set, monitor, and enforce service-level expectations for metrics such as throughput, capacity, roaming, and uptime. “Wired Assurance has pretty much eliminated the need for dedicated monitoring for our EX4600 switches in our offices,” he says. “Plus, Mist gives us greater visibility into our wireless clients than we’ve ever had before.”
Mist APs include BLE for indoor locations, which also has strong appeal as Jackson Electric looks ahead to help schools with contact tracing and proximity notifications to keep kids and teachers safe in the classroom.
“We exist because of our members,” Herdes says. “Being member-oriented enables us to make it through events like coronavirus or hurricanes.” With the foundation of a smart community network, Jackson Electric can continue to deliver affordable Internet and innovative services to the people who love the open stretches of the Gulf Coast.
“We can deliver any service over the next several years with our current Juniper network,” Herdes says.
Published June 2020