Bragging Rights: Chattanooga Does 1 Gig to the Home

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The city of Chattanooga, Tenn., on Monday launched the first 1-Gigabit-per-second broadband service in the U.S. over the fiber-to-the-home network built by EPB, the municipality’s power utility.

Why? “The simple answer is because we can,” EPB president and CEO Harold DePriest told the New York Times.

Fair enough, I guess.

Hitting insanely fast broadband speeds, even if they are of zero practical value to typical home users today, is a sure-fire way to attract attention. Even just promising to pour on the fiber afterburners can kick off a frenzy: Recall that Google’s experiment/publicity stunt to build a 1-Gbps network in a Willy Wonka-style contest generated applications from more than 1,100 communities (see Behind Google’s Broadband Strategy and Free Fiber Lunch!).

The cost of EPB’s 1-Gbps service is $350 per month, which may definitely appeal to businesses — but not likely many residential customers.

Verizon, meanwhile, would like everyone to remember that it has the capability to deliver more than 1-Gbps over its own fiber-optic network (see Verizon Test Blasts 1-Gig Links To The Home).

Aside from the headline-grabbing 1-Gbps offer, EPB also offers lower-speed tiers are surely of more concern to Comcast and AT&T, which are the incumbent MSO and telco respectively in Chattanooga. According to the NYT, the utility offers 30 Mbps ($58 per month), 50 Mbps ($71 a month) and 100 Mbps ($140 a month) service.

Comcast, in a statement, noted that it currently offers Chattanooga customers 50-Mbps down/10-Mbps up Internet service for $99.95 per month when bundled with TV or phone.

“What we are finding is that customers not only want fast speeds but affordable prices, in order to receive the overall value they are looking for. That is why our focus has been offering a variety of speed tiers, starting with our economy tier of 1.5 Mbps for only $29.95 per month (with TV or voice),” a Comcast rep said in a statement. The MSO has more than 126,000 customers in Chattanooga for digital video, Internet and phone, supported by 300 local employees.

By the end of the year, EPB says, all of the approximately 170,000 businesses and homes within EPB’s 600-square-mile, nine-county service area will be able to access the network.

EPB’s website with more info on the project is here: www.chattanoogagig.com.

The Chattanooga FTTH network is based on Alcatel-Lucent’s gigabit passive optical network (GPON) platform. The vendor pointed out that it is also involved in two other 1-Gbps projects in other parts of the world: Hong Kong Broadband Network Ltd. and Portugal’s ZON Multimedia.

For the EPB network, Alcatel-Lucent has deployed hardware and software products including: the 7342 Intelligent Services Access Manager Fiber-to-the-User (ISAM FTTU); 5520 Access Management System (AMS); 7750 Service Router; 7450 Ethernet Service Switch; 5620 Service Aware Manager and 5750 Subscriber Services Controller; and the OmniSwitch 6850 Ethernet LAN switch.

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