A DAY IN THE LIFE OF...
Tad Deriso, president and CEO of Mid-atlantic Broadband Communities
Tad Deriso, Mid-atlantic Broadband Communities, in rural Virginia
Tad Deriso’s day was not typical. The only vice-presidential debate in the 2016 campaign was being held at Longwood University, Virginia. Mid-atlantic Broadband Communities (MBC) owns and operates the open-access wholesale network that covers the university and wide areas of rural south Virginia.
“We provided the connections to three networks, Cox, Level 3 and Shentel,” says Deriso. “I started the day talking to my operations team to ensure there was no maintenance planned for the day. All those operators were relying on MBC: we have all the fibre. It was still an anxious day, but our network performed without a hitch.”
MBC is an independent non-profit corporation, created with funds from Big Tobacco when Virginia and other states sued the companies for healthcare costs. Virginia decided to put the money into infrastructure, and hired Deriso to advise on the best uses. “We used to be a big manufacturing area, so we had the electric power, but we didn’t have the telecoms. The idea was to enable the private sector.”
Now companies such as Centurylink, Comcast, Cox and Verizon use MBC to reach their cell towers and end users. “We have no retail customers, which is really important.” MBC’S internet provider customers connect 151 schools. “In south Virginia we have the network that goes back to the long-haul networks.”
There are some high-tech neighbours. Microsoft has a big data centre in the area. Facebook and Microsoft’s MAREA cable will run from Virginia Beach to Spain, and Telefónica’s BRUSA cable will run from the same point to Puerto Rico and Brazil.
One a regular day, when there isn’t a vice-presidential debate on his patch, Deriso spends “the first third on investment opportunities” for MBC. The second third “is local economic opportunities – companies want to talk about connectivity as they move to the cloud”. And the last third? “Community investments, helping poor kids, sponsoring boys’ and girls’ clubs, helping with nutrition education here in rural Virginia.”