Chattanooga Municipal Internet ready to increase speeds

(TNS) – Gig City leaders say they’re boosting internet speeds again, and they say it will make Chattanooga the first community in the world to offer 25 gigabits per second broadband service citywide to everyone homes and businesses.

EPB, Chattanooga’s municipal utility, announced Wednesday that it is increasing its internet connection speeds to offer 25G service through its fiber optic division.

“The fastest internet in the world just got faster,” EPB President David Wade announced at an event at the Chattanooga Convention Center, who signed up as the service’s first customer. Broadband Internet. “Our goal is to sustain our community network so that our customers are ready for new challenges and opportunities.”

The city’s utility is heading for an even faster lane of the information superhighway to stay ahead of AT&T, Google and other internet providers who continue to increase speed and capacity for to serve the growing number of Wi-Fi enabled devices in homes and businesses.

Aided by $302,000 in assistance from the City of Chattanooga and Hamilton County, the Chattanooga Convention Center will be the first customer for EPB’s new 25G service, which is expected to be operational this fall.

“The new 25 gigabyte Internet service gives our convention center a major competitive advantage in attracting business conferences, conventions, electronic gaming competitions and other events that attract tens of thousands of visitors and several million dollars spent in our local economy,” Hamilton County Mayor Jim Coppinger said in a statement.

More than 650,000 visitors come to the Chattanooga Convention Center each year, and Coppinger said high-speed Internet connections are key to helping Chattanooga grow its $1.5 billion-a-year tourism industry.

EPB’s 25G service exceeds the capacity of most routers, and ISPs elsewhere may not even be able to process that much data that quickly. Initially, EPB will charge residential customers $1,500 per month for 25G service and $12,500 per month for business customers.

But as households and businesses have more internet-connected devices with greater internet needs, the extra speed and capacity will likely be used by more EPB subscribers in the future.

Mary Beth Hudson, executive director of the Smart Factory Institute, said in an interview at the event that improving internet services will be vital as more manufacturers employ robots, self-driving vehicles and other technology dependent on fast and reliable broadband services.

“This is another boon to our economy,” Chattanooga Mayor Tim Kelly said during Wednesday’s announcement.

Kelly said nearly 10,000 people have moved to the Chattanooga area in the past two years during the pandemic, and surveys of new residents have found that Chattanooga’s outdoor attractions and high-speed Internet connections from EPB were the main attractions in the area.

As more jobs shift to remote working and more devices are powered or controlled by the internet, EPB’s high-speed broadband available throughout the 600 square mile service territory utility will drive growth, said Christy Gillenwater, president of the Chattanooga Area Chamber of Commerce.

“For the world’s fastest internet and the nation’s most advanced smart city infrastructure, Chattanooga is the best place for businesses to locate,” Gillenwater said in a statement Wednesday. “EPB’s new 25GB Internet represents a new platform to help businesses innovate and grow.”

The 25G service for EPB comes seven years after EPB established its 10G service across its 600 square mile service territory.

EPB, which has supplied electricity to Chattanooga since its beginnings in 1935, added broadband service in 2009 when the utility launched its EPB fiber optic network. EPB increased speed to 1 gigabit in 2010, making Chattanooga the “Gig City” by offering its customers residential Internet speeds of 1,000 Mbps. In 2015, EPB claims to have been the first in the world to offer 10,000 Mbps to every home and business in the community.

In its first year, EPB had only 10 Gig customers. But today, more than 37% of the 128,000 subscribers to EPB telecommunications services now pay the $67 monthly fee for the service.

The service is offered through Nokia’s 25G symmetrical fiber broadband PON (passive optical network).

“Nokia and EPB have a proven track record over the past two decades of delivering fiber access and innovating to meet market needs,” said David Eckard, chief technology officer for North America at Nokia, in a press release. “It will allow you to be not just a gateway to the South, but a gateway to the digital future.”

©2022 Chattanooga Times/Free Press, distributed by Tribune Content Agency, LLC.

Melissa C. Keyes