With news that Google’s fiber optic broadband service will offer a stunning 1 Gbps of performance, the entire nation has been in an uproar about fiber optics.  The FCC has even stepped in and established a program to reward broadband providers that can serve up 100 Mbps connections by the close of the decade, which is not that much faster than some of the fastest connections available today.  In fact, one utility company/city-owned ISP is about to offer residents and businesses alike a 150 Mbps connection.  Take 10 seconds and try to guess just where this service will be released…we can wait.

Did You Say…?

Did you say Chattanooga and Hamilton County, Tennessee?  If so, you seem to have a special gift, and so we will let you have a cookie if you e-mail us next week’s winning lottery numbers ahead of time.  For those of you who are not clairvoyant, the situation is worth looking at a bit closer.  It all starts with EPB Fiber Optics.

Who is EPB Fiber Optics?

EPB (Electric Power Board) Fiber Optics is a city-owned company that offers a very similar lineup of services to Verizon’s’ Fios network minus a lot of the unique technological fusion technologies that make Fios a true system.   Even lacking this functionality, EPB Fiber Optics still offers a combination of broadband, digital cable, and digital VoIP-powered telephone services.  All of this in an area that is not densely populated nor widely associated with being particularly wealthy makes one wonder: just what is going on here?  Is Chattanooga trying to get people to move in?  Possibly, but there are some facts worth mentioning.

Chattanooga is the seat of Hamilton County and it routinely ranks in or near the top 10 cities in the entire country for affordability.  Adding a subsidized broadband service that competes with top-notch services around the nation could very well be a bid to bring more high-tech businesses and minds to Chattanooga and surrounding areas, which seems to be a major goal of the local government bodies.  Some of these efforts have paid off, especially with the recent cooperation with Volkswagen to open a new plant in 2011.  Add to this upscale retail and residential waterfront investments and it is clear that Chattanooga is trying to make a break from the images most people hold of the southeastern Tennessee city.

How Much Will 150 Mbps Cost?

At present, the fastest broadband plan offered by EPB Fiber Optics tops out at a very impressive symmetrical 100 Mbps for roughly $350 per month.  While $350 per month sounds very expensive, it is at least nice to have the high performance option that many simply cannot buy at any price due to the lack of fiber optic carriers in their region.  What will 150 Mbps cost?  Nobody is entire sure, but it is a good bet that it will either replace the current 100 Mbps plan at the ~$350 per month price point or cost more.

As always, bundling is a great way to save money when shopping for broadband services and digital cable and/or VoIP services.  EPB Fiber Optics offers over 300 channels (More than 50 in HD) of programming plus support for advanced IPTV-based DVR functionality.  Premium channel groups are also available, and the VoIP service comes complete with just about every feature anyone would want for $22.99 a month.

Why is EPB Involved With Fiber Optics?

Anyone who has had the pleasure of visiting Tennessee has probably already admired the natural splendor of the countryside, and fiber optics are a clear bid to keep the countryside looking pristine.  The substantially lower power utilization of fiber optic connections reduces strain on the public-owned power grid while simultaneously reducing the amount of emissions that could keep visitors from turning into residents of Hamilton County.  While this situation will be worth watching in the future, it is very interesting to note that when the people of Hamilton County get to choose, they make good decisions in terms of fiber optics and environmental friendliness.


  1. ken hays

    I live in Chattanooga and have been an EPB fiber customer since it was deployed in our neighborhood. While some will question whether a municipal owned entity should be involved in fiber, it’s a pretty good bet that there is no way that Comcast would have ever deployed fiber in our community (600 Square miles is Epb’s service area).

    I personally have the triple play option and I am saving over 40 a month from what my past bills were with Comcast and at&t. In addition to the savings, I have 15 mgbs symmetrical service which is 10 times faster than what Comcast provided.

    We are blessed in Chattanooga to have visionary leadership at the EPB.

  2. joseph slemp

    I live very near the Tri-Cities (NE TN/SW VA). The local utility in Bristol Virginia Utilities (BVU) have built out the fiber network to many of the surrounding counties. They utilize FTTH to provide Cable/Internet/Telephone packages that are significantly cheaper than Comcast and much faster.

  3. George C. Jordan III

    What is the potential cost to a community to set up a fiber network?


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