How Chattanooga EPB became an ISP with faster internet than Google

FTTH grants Chattanooga, Tennessee one extremely attractive perk: it boasts ultra-high-speed internet.

Yes, you read right: the ultra-high-speed internet.

Thanks to the initiative of the Chattanooga Electric Power Board (EPB), a power utility owned by the city, Chattanooga residents and businesses can now navigate the web at the astonishing speed that 10 gigabit connections offer. This is basically 1000 times faster than the average Internet connection in the entire USA.

This is a government-funded initiative that has naturally not met with support from major commercial providers in the area; providers that have gone so far as to actually take legal action against the service known as “municipal broadband”, seeking to pass laws that will ban its existence and render it illegal in different states of the US.

Comcast was one such company. In 2008, it sued the Chattanooga Electric Power Board attempting to put an end to the funding of this network. Comcast lost, obviously, and Chattanoogans are now free to navigate online at unprecedented speeds and at a very reasonable price.


Every residence and business in town can make use of this excellent service for about $300 per month. If that much bandwidth is not really necessary, citizens can choose from the 5, 3 and 1 gigabit speed connections that are also available.

This is quite a feat for a relatively small city, managing to circumvent the grip of huge commercial Internet providers in order to “do its own thing” and do it well.

So well, that it preceded any of these Internet monsters in offering such a service by a good 4 years. Google Fiber didn’t hit Kansas City until 2012.

Now, commercial providers of internet services are realizing that they have to be realistic and prepared to compete with other initiatives like this one that will more than likely start popping up all over the country.

It’s no surprise that Comcast, for example, announced earlier this year its intentions to offer a brand new 2 gigabit internet service for $300 a month and Chattanooga was one of the first cities on their list.

This effort on behalf of Chattanooga to bring fast and speedy internet to the masses at a reasonable and affordable price began quite simply as an engineering issue. EPB (the city’s electric company) was seeking a way for its systems to communicate with, and monitor, new equipment being installed on the grid that was of a digital nature.

They needed a solution and they needed it quickly because the big commercial phone and cable companies weren’t planning on offering their services there for yet another decade ...or more.


And thus Chattanooga’s EPB underwent some changes and became an ISP, currently operating around 8K miles of fiber for approximately 56K residential and commercial Internet users.

The gigabit service will have an estimated cost of $70 per month, a significant decrease from last year’s fees ($300 per month) and DSLReports have given this initiative’s service rave reviews and strong ratings quite consistently since its broadband service was offered to the public.

October 20, 2016 by
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