Tennessee Battles for Top Billing in Internet Speeds


Hearing a dial-up computer tone today is a little like listening to the crackling sound of a phonograph from the early 20th century. It’s out of place and just a little creepy.

In Indiana, we’ve come a long way from the days of waiting for our computers to connect to the Internet. Some of the most rural areas now have access to broadband capabilities and advanced mobile services.

Much of that is due to the Telecom and Video Reform Act (HEA 1279) that the Indiana General Assembly passed and Gov. Mitch Daniels signed in 2006. The act deregulated the telecommunications industry and put Indiana on the map as a leader in expanding broadband services. The capabilities have also attracted investments from a number of entities.

Now, it looks like another quasi-Midwestern state is gaining attention in the world of broadband. Chattanooga’s city-owned electrical utility has started offering an Internet service that is among the fastest in the world.

The Chattanooga Electric Power Board’s new Fiber Optics network will provide a 1 gigabit-per-second Internet service. The utility said the service is more than 200 times faster than the average national download speed today.

At a cost of $350 a month, it’s also much more expensive than the typical residential plan. Harold DePriest, the Chattanooga Electric Power Board’s president and CEO, said residential customers don’t really need that fast a service, but businesses might.

He said the high-speed service won’t be costly for EPB to operate, yet it should put the Chattanooga community at the forefront of attracting businesses – possibly Internet providers – that can benefit from having it.

“Chattanooga represents the next frontier in communications technology, with limitless potential for new applications for education, entertainment, health care, industrial development, and more,” DePriest said in a statement.

The article goes on to quote Chattanooga Mayor Ron Littlefield saying the announcement has put the city “on the short list of progressive communities in the world.” A New York Times article says that only Hong Kong and a few other cities in the world offer such fast services and that Chattanooga will be the first in the United States to do so.

Fast, but not cheap. Would you pay $350 a month for this kind of capability?

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