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EPB is delivering the nation's fastest consumer internet connection by the end of the year -- a 1 Gbps service.

Only a few cities worldwide -- like Hong Kong -- have 1 gbps connections.  (Source:

Small-scale socialized internet offerings have been trampling the rates and service of commercial competitors like Comcast. These competitors have responded by trying to outlaw municipal Wi-Fi.  (Source: Comcast)
Socialized municipal offering handily beats out local commercial competitors

Despite the criticism of mild socialism -- including government-owned utilities -- thus far commercial cable offerings in the U.S. have fallen grossly short of successful municipal offerings.  Services like the municipal effort of Wilson, N.C. have offered faster, cheaper internet than commercial offerings.  Cable companies have responded by pouring millions into lobbying local, state, and federal governments to enact proposals to ban municipal internet services.  To date, they have seemed unable to stamp out this pesky brand of community socialism.

Now Chattanooga, Tennessee is preparing to launch a new municipal service which will offer speeds up to an incredible 1 Gbps.  The service, to be deployed by the end of the year, will be the fastest household internet connection available in America today.

Ron Littlefield, the city’s mayor, cheers, "This makes Chattanooga — a midsized city in the South — one of the leading cities in the world in its digital capabilities."

The service will be managed by city-owned utility EPB.  It will join just a handful of consumer 1 Gbps offerings worldwide, including the fastest connections in the city of Hong Kong.  The service is almost 200 times faster than the average U.S. broadband speed according to analysts.

There are some downsides of the super-fast service.  One is the ability to fully utilize the ultra-wide line.  While transmission speeds are somewhat dependent on what speed the downstream party can receive data at, they are also dependent on how fast upstream parties can serve the data at.  So while you may be able to get a 25 GB Blu-Ray movie in about three and a half minutes, in theory, few data providers will be able to serve the movie that fast.

Another obstacle is the price – a whopping $350 a month.  While the city is also offering more affordable bundles that should beat the rates of competitive commercial offerings, its top-tier option is undeniably pricey.  At that rate it may appeal more to businesses than the majority of individual buyers.

Comments Harold DePriest, chief executive of EPB, "We don’t know how to price a gig.  We’re experimenting. We’ll learn."

The new service will reach 170,000 homes and businesses in the area and help add a bit more bang to citizens' buck, in a region that 
Forbes magazine already rates as one of "America's Best Bang-For-The-Buck Cities.

If President Obama has his way, a national socialized internet offering will also soon arrive.  The President's FCC appointees are pushing plans to cover 100 million homes with 100 Mbps by 2020.  That connection would be one-tenth the speed of Chattanooga's. 

Despite the sluggish performance of cable giants like Comcast and Time Warner, some commercial players are also looking to deploy high-speed offerings.  Google announced plans to cover up to 500,000 people with 1 Gbps internet.  The service received 1,100 applications from communities and Google will announce its pick(s) by the end of the year.

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Not the whole story
By amanojaku on 9/14/2010 1:22:19 PM , Rating: 2
I submitted this article last night after reading it on Yahoo News, and am surprised that link was not included. There is more to the story that might quiet the people claiming this service is socialism and unfair to capitalism. It's actually an intelligent offering that could be duplicated by private companies. If they weren't so damn greedy.

EPB is a utility, which means it has a presence in every part of it's government's jurisdiction (Chattanooga). It happens to be a government-owned utility (booo!!! hissssss!!! I know, I know...) but that is not true of all utilities. My electricity provider, ConEd, is private and could offer this service, too. How?

EPB is much more advanced than most utilities. It has a grid that has been upgraded several times since 2000, and a fiber network throughout the city to monitor the grid. And that is the same network it is providing the gigabit service over. In fact, EPB provides phone and cable over the grid-monitoring network, as well. Since the fiber network already existed, or went up when new electrical lines were deployed, the cost for becoming an Internet provider was lowered significantly.

Compare that to ConEd, which still sends someone to my building to read the meter, because there is no fiber for monitoring. It was seen as an achievement when the meters were moved from the apartment to the basement, so you didn't have to stay home from work when ConEd came around. This was seven years ago. In Manhattan.

EPB buys its electricity from Tennessee Valley Authority because it doesn't generate its own. As a result of intelligent outsourcing, the reduced focus on obtaining power has been directed toward optimizing it's services and lowering operating costs. EPB has obtained numerous grants for building infrastructure ahead of schedule, which is something that is rarely seen in a public or private company. Or a government one. Apparently, EPB is unique in that it has great services, great pricing, and a great track record. Public, private, or government owned, this place is a model of efficiency compared to its peers.

RE: Not the whole story
By DanD85 on 9/14/2010 2:01:59 PM , Rating: 2
It seems smart socialism beats stupid, greedy, anti-competitive capitalism hand down.

RE: Not the whole story
By amanojaku on 9/14/2010 2:27:42 PM , Rating: 2
Actually, this isn't socialism. EPB earns money buy selling services to consumers for a profit. However, the government ownership of EPB requires that it be a non-profit: no shareholders or owners exist to receive stocks or dividends, so the retained earnings is 100% and the profit is recycled into improving the company.

RE: Not the whole story
By bernardl on 9/14/2010 6:54:10 PM , Rating: 2
Actually, this isn't socialism. EPB earns money buy selling services to consumers for a profit. However, the government ownership of EPB requires that it be a non-profit: no shareholders or owners exist to receive stocks or dividends, so the retained earnings is 100% and the profit is recycled into improving the company.

That's disgusting! You mean that an entity is able to deliver value to its customers, yet nobody gets to buy a Ferrari???

Have you considered for a second the possibility that this model could be replicated to a large scale?


RE: Not the whole story
By Fritzr on 9/14/2010 8:00:21 PM , Rating: 2
They can still get their Ferrari. The standard way to milk a non-profit is by awarding top management with goldplated benefit packages, high salaries & graduated bonuses awarded for "job performance" :P

All you have to do to get rich by being charitable is to work for the charity and put yourself in a position to control compensation :D

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