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Summary:

Chattanooga, TN today become one of few places in the world where it is possible to get 1 Gbps broadband connections to their homes and businesses, thanks to their muni-owned network operator & utility, EPB. The GPON-based network is one of the fastest anywhere.

TheFuture

Just when I was feeling all dandy about my 100 Mbps fiber broadband connection, there comes news this morning that folks in Chattanooga, Tenn., will soon get 1 Gbps (symmetrical) broadband from their municipally-owned  network operator, EPB Fiber Optics. Municipally-owned fiber networks are being viewed as the future of broadband in the U.S. (Related post: Where else in the world can you get 1 Gbps to the Home?)

This is the only 1 Gbps service in the U.S. (take that FiOS!) and is currently offered to 100,000 homes. It uses gigabit passive optical network (GPON) technology, much of it provided by Alcatel-Lucent. EPB, which is also the local electric provider, says that all homes and businesses (about 170,000 in total) within its 600-square mile, nine-county region will have access to this network. In June 2010, EPB started offering 150 Mbps symmetrical broadband service to its customers. It’s not clear how much EPB is going to charge for this service; the 100 Mbps connection in Chattanooga currently costs $175 a month. Update: EPB says that their 100 Mbps service is now costing $140 a month and the 1 Gbps service will cost $350 a month.

With this service, EPB has beaten Google to the punch. The search giant has been on-track to building an experimental broadband network that has speeds of 1 Gbps. Even South Koreans, who are used to the fastest broadband in the world, aren’t going to get 1 Gbps by 2012. (Related post: What you can do with 1 Gigabit?)

The fiber broadband network is also a crucial part of Chattanooga’s plans for smart grid technologies. Katie explains how EPB plans to do so. The Smart Grid plans helped the company get about $111.5 million in stimulus funds, which can only help with the network buildout.

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  1. Om – did you manage to get fiber to your home? If so, please do tell how…

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    1. I am using Webpass. They have service in some SOMA buildings which is superfast and is 100 Mbps in most cases. Not sure if it is fiber of broadband wireless in my building, but it is ethernet for me at home. No modems, nothing.

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      1. Thanks. A friend recruited his fellow Delancey Street building dwellers to split a fast fiber connection from these guys. He loved it, but it’s a bit pricey for one person.

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      2. WebPass is rooftop-to-rooftop WiMax to the building and then ethernet in the building. We’ve got them @ 100 Mbps in our condo in Potrero and love it :)

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  2. It will be interesting to watch how Volkswagen, which recently announced a $1bn investment in a new factory along with all of its North American suppliers will use the smart grid. Chattanooga might be worth tracking given the juxtaposition of potentially world class digital and manufacturing infrastructure.

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  3. [...] broadband in the nation when I so clearly know better. For those that want more details, check out this post, this post and this post with details on other fast service providers in the U.S. For folks [...]

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