Chattanooga launches 1 Gbps broadband service

by W. David Gardner, Information Week

The more than 1,100 communities which have submitted applications to Google for 1 Gbps broadband service won't have to sit on the edge of their chairs anymore wondering which community will get the service first. None of them will get it. The first 1 Gbps net service -- the fastest in the U.S. -- is being offered by the city of Chattanooga.

The city-owned Electric Power Board utility announced this week that it is offering the ultra high-speed service to all 170,000 homes and businesses in its service area. There's a drawback, however: the 1 Gbps service will cost $350 a month. As is often the case in telecommunications, the first price is usually the highest and is generally followed by a strong of lower prices so residents can hold out hope that the price will eventually decline.

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"Chattanooga represents the next frontier in communications technology, with limitless potential for new applications for education, entertainment, health care, industrial development and more," said Harold DePriest, EPB chief executive. "We don't know how to price a gig. We're experimenting. We'll learn."

Not only has the Chattanooga EPB upstaged Google, but it has beaten the nation's service providers to the punch. None of them offer the high speed service, although some, like Verizon Communications, have successfully tested the service at very high speeds. The U.S. has been consistently falling behind other industrialized nations in delivering high-speed broadband to its citizens and the Chattanooga demonstrates that the service can be provided in the U.S.

Chattanooga's 1Gbps service is delivered over fiber optic and smart grid networks. Alcatel-Lucent built the passive optical network infrastructure which covers a 600-square-mile area. The federal government provided a grant of $111 million for the EPB's smart grid network, although those funds weren't used in the broadband service.

article originally published at Information Week.

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