Cable Company

Glasgow Electric Plant Board, Glasgow, Ky. Insight Communications, New York

The cable industry presented our second tie: Glasgow Electric Plant Board and Insight Communications.

Glasgow EPB, run by Superintendent William J. Ray, is a much-lauded local electric utility that wound up building a cable network so successful that the existing cable player — a Scripps-Howard company that had been acquired by Comcast — decided to pack up and leave town.

Glasgow originally built a fiber-optic telecommunications network in the late 1980s, trying to anticipate deregulation of its own network. That led to a decision to get into cable TV service. In the early 1990s, the company built a Hybrid Fiber-Coax network and equipped it with IBM network interface cards, providing residents both TV service and an area-wide local area network for their computers.

Today, Glasgow sells 4-Mbps symmetrical service over its network for $14.95 per month, but manages to be profitable.

"Whats interesting about Glasgow is that they just set about solving the local customers problems," Mendyk says. "They wound up doing something remarkable by starting with a customer focus."

Insight Communications, under the leadership of CEO Michael S. Willner, is the ninth-largest cable company in the U.S. It has pioneered video-on-demand services, interactive program guides and technology upgrades on its Rockford, Ill., system. The company is finishing a systemwide upgrade this year, and will be the first to offer the full range of digital services across its network.

Today, Insight has about 1.4 million subscribers in Illinois, Indiana, Kentucky and Ohio. It reports that it is providing interactive digital services in more than 800,000 homes, and is offering circuit-switched telephony in a joint effort with AT&T Broadband.

"Insight seems to have a history of innovation," Heckart says.

Others receiving votes: AT&T Broadband

Previous winners: AT&T Broadband (2000), Cox Communications (1999, 1998)