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Thursday, February 6, 2014

Chattanooga's City-Owned Power Company Offers 1 GB Broadband for $70 a Month

Posted by on Thu, Feb 6, 2014 at 9:53 AM

You know that idea I recently pitched about piggybacking a municipal high-speed fiber-optic broadband service on top of Seattle City Light's coming smart meter rollout? Well it turns out that Chattanooga, Tennessee's Electric Power Board has done exactly that:

EPB is one of the first community-owned utilities to install a 100% fiber-optic network, which uses the fiber optic network for Smart Grid applications, in addition to the triple-play media services (i.e., high speed Internet, video and telephone) EPB already provides.

David Wade, EPB’s Executive Vice President and COO, says that “The broadband communications network will enable EPB’s electric system to be intelligent, interactive, and self-healing – helping us to reduce customer outage minutes by 40%, provide our customers with the at-home tools and resources that will allow them to manage their energy use, increase power quality and much more.”

Virtually unlimited bandwidth gives EPB lightning-fast, two-way communications with every device in its distribution system. While a network this robust is overkill for metering, EPB realized that fiber is essential for tightly coordinated load shedding activities, for the split second responsiveness required in distribution automation and, for a virtual real-time energy management tool for customers.

EPB offers its 170,000 customers 1 Gb (up/down) Internet service for only $69.99 a month—less than Comcast charges for one-twentieth the speed. Comcast argues that there's little demand for the 100 Mbps service it already offers in Seattle, but then that might have something to do with the $115 a month price.

The point is, Chattanooga provides a working example of a city-owned power utility leveraging a smart meter rollout to deliver affordable high-speed Internet, TV, and voice service over a state-of-the-art fiber optic network. The technology hadn't yet caught up with EPB's vision when it started planning Chattanooga's network. But the technology is clearly there now. And Seattle would be crazy not to at least explore taking advantage of this once in forever opportunity.


Comments (25) RSS

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Matt from Denver 1
I'm surprised they have such a socialist thing there. Chattanooga is so right wing that they make Colorado Springs look like San Francisco.
Posted by Matt from Denver on February 6, 2014 at 10:03 AM · Report this
Urgutha Forka 2
SOCIALISM!!!!!!!!! BENGHAZI!!!!!!!
Posted by Urgutha Forka on February 6, 2014 at 10:10 AM · Report this
Great part of the article is how it's spawned gentrification in Chattanooga. You know, white techies pushing out the poors.

So yes, this is a great idea. It's sh*t white college techies like and they're good for my property values.
Posted by Socialism for White college educated techies you mean on February 6, 2014 at 10:27 AM · Report this
notaboomer 4
fuck the fucking internet.
Posted by notaboomer on February 6, 2014 at 10:29 AM · Report this
"Since the fiber-optic network switched on four years ago, the signs of growth in Chattanooga are unmistakable. Former factory buildings on Main Street and Warehouse Row on Market Street have been converted to loft apartments, open-space offices, restaurants and shops. The city has welcomed a new population of computer programmers, entrepreneurs and investors. Lengthy sideburns and scruffy hipster beards — not the norm in eastern Tennessee — are de rigueur for the under-30 set."…

Yeah gentrification!

Yep, socialism alright, for the well off.
Posted by And I support it on February 6, 2014 at 10:37 AM · Report this
...but of course, some of it will trickle down to the poors in the form of tips and shoe shines.
Posted by It'd be great for Seattle property prices! on February 6, 2014 at 10:39 AM · Report this
Fuck Comcast. Fuck Wave. Fuck Centurylink. Fuck CondoInternet. And fuck all of their lobbyists.
Posted by Mr. Happy Sunshine on February 6, 2014 at 10:42 AM · Report this
maxk 8
They offer 1Gb up/down, not 1 GB up/down. That's bits, not bytes. There are 8 bits in a byte. This error overestimates their speeds by 8x.
Posted by maxk on February 6, 2014 at 10:48 AM · Report this
Kinison 9
Originally they charged $300 a month.…

Why? Because they could.
Posted by Kinison on February 6, 2014 at 10:49 AM · Report this
Instead of huge amounts of bandwidth, that no one really needs, for too much money/month ($70 is still too much), how about offering 1-2Mb for $10/month?
Posted by randoma on February 6, 2014 at 10:49 AM · Report this
"how about offering 1-2Mb for $10/month?"

Because that's what the 'MySpace' community needs. White boy techies need higher speeds. Allows for faster downloading and gentrification. Socialism for techies. I love it as a home owner in Seattle.
Posted by Let's not sugarcoat this on February 6, 2014 at 10:52 AM · Report this
My comcast internet, which supposedly gets 20Mb, does exactly that as long as you are using it at odd off hours. Surfing at 2am is a joy!

But around 8-9 pm on a weeknight it is more like 1MB or less. I've complained several times, and when I do they refund 1 day of service for each complaint! Yet nothing gets better. I hate them so much. But I have no viable alternative. I would love a municipal option.
Posted by ohthetrees on February 6, 2014 at 10:54 AM · Report this
Cato the Younger Younger 13
That's odd Comcast. I've asked for 100Mbps service only to be told it's not available in my area.....
Posted by Cato the Younger Younger on February 6, 2014 at 11:06 AM · Report this
Kinison 14
@12 sucks to be you. Where I lived on First Hill (Boren Ave) or in Kent (East Hill), Comcast has always been consistent in the speeds. 20 down / 5 up. And because I dont have 3 TVs streaming Netflix at the same time, I really dont have a need for anything faster.
Posted by Kinison on February 6, 2014 at 11:13 AM · Report this
MrBaker 15
"You know that idea I recently pitched about piggybacking a municipal high-speed fiber-optic broadband service on top of Seattle City Light's coming smart meter rollout?"

You mean the idea SCL pitched in 2007 and 2008, with a rustling study in 2009?…

Yes, I've been aware of it for half a decade.

As the study notes, there isn't a business case for SCL to pay for it on their own with the efficiencies they would gain.
There is a cost offset here, SCL should save some money here, and pass that savings to rate payers in some form.

And then there was this gem from a Comcast shill in the Seattle Times, patting Seattle on the head, telling you that they already provide broadband.…
Posted by MrBaker on February 6, 2014 at 11:29 AM · Report this
skweetis 16
Is there any organized effort to get municipal broadband here? It doesn't seem like it would take that much pressure to get this done. And it seems like it would be easy to rally support because, seriously, fuck Comcast. I want municipal broadband now.
Posted by skweetis on February 6, 2014 at 12:00 PM · Report this
ScrawnyKayaker 17
@12 LUXURY! Our DSL (Verizon land line, but not Verizon ISP) often grinds down to under 100 Kbps at peak usage periods.

I always imagine that there is a node somewhere in Ballard in a brass and mouldering black leather case next to a coal gas lamp.
Posted by ScrawnyKayaker on February 6, 2014 at 12:05 PM · Report this
keshmeshi 18

I imagine it surrounded by sparking electrical wires.

My DSL in Ballard was always the worst on Sundays. I guess that's when Ballardites stay in.
Posted by keshmeshi on February 6, 2014 at 1:02 PM · Report this
MrBaker 19
@16, yes, the mayor's office was already looking at this, and the 2009 study, before Goldy "pitched" this idea.

Dear Michael Baker,

Thank you for the note. We've been reading the report, and are interested in the option of a municipal internet utility.

Bennett Barr
Office of the Mayor
600 Fouth Avenue
PO Box 94749
Seattle, Washington 98124-4749…
Posted by MrBaker on February 6, 2014 at 1:03 PM · Report this
@12 You're getting exactly what you're paying for: speeds "up to" 20 Mbp/s. You have another option, and that's to pay more for a business circuit that comes with a speed guarantee. Yes you can do this at a residence, I believe it's $15-20 more per month.
Posted by Henry on February 6, 2014 at 1:43 PM · Report this
Supreme Ruler Of The Universe 21

Latency is also a factor.

You can have very high bandwidth, but terrible latency that makes it impossible to do real time gaming for example.
Posted by Supreme Ruler Of The Universe on February 6, 2014 at 2:19 PM · Report this
Supreme Ruler Of The Universe 22


Currently streaming movies really only need about 2Mbps, and short of file downloading, which is going the way of the dinosaur, streaming video is probably the biggest bandwidth hog for a home user. Add a family of five, streaming non-stop all the time (unrealistic) and that brings it to 10Mpbs.

So the 20 Mpbs optical fiber which CenturyLink offers (here in Kent) at the incredibly low price of $29 a month, no contract (but must get phone service too) is the deal of the century and more than enough for most.
Posted by Supreme Ruler Of The Universe on February 6, 2014 at 2:22 PM · Report this
watchout5 23
I heard through the rumor mill Comcast was only offering 100mbit speeds for people who also have television packages. Hurray "free" markets, hurray for monopolies on services, hurray for no competition, I sure do love this "capitalist" society we live in where we get to choose between a single company that offered uncapped internet. Wouldn't want to do anything to fuck up this utopia unless we also get 1gbit up with our "only" 1gbit down.

State law forbids us being responsible for ourselves, just like Supply Side Jesus foretold! Love live our Comcast mayor!
Posted by watchout5 on February 6, 2014 at 3:42 PM · Report this
collectivism_sucks 24
So the government should have a monopoly on internet too? Why not make all restaurants government owned too? And all movie theaters, and book publishers so that no one can ever again publish a book that criticizes the state and with state owned internet, even ebooks that have bad things to say about socialism can be censored...
And I'm sure Chattanooga's internet is not just 69 a month. Add on the taxation (i.e., theft of working people's money by the corporate owned state) that keeps it funded and it probably costs a lot more.
Want to lower the cost of internet? Get rid of the regulations that keep competitors from arising and lowering the prices. Socialism will only result in more power to the corporate-owned government and the elites in control, and less power for us the people.
Posted by collectivism_sucks on February 6, 2014 at 5:50 PM · Report this
undead ayn rand 25
@22: Wrong as always.

0.5 Megabits per second - Required broadband connection speed
1.5 Megabits per second - Recommended broadband connection speed
3.0 Megabits per second - Recommended for DVD quality
5.0 Megabits per second - Recommended for HD quality [720p]
7.0 Megabits per second - Recommended for Super HD quality [1080p]
12 Megabits per second - Recommended for 3D quality
Posted by undead ayn rand on February 6, 2014 at 10:32 PM · Report this

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