Chattanooga Goes Choo-Choo with 1 Gbps Broadband

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 (s ALU). 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 (s GOOG) 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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