Chattanooga, Tennessee is a shining success story of a Municipal Internet Network. In the beginning, they led the fight for a better internet for their citizens. And that bet paid off. According to Consumer Reports, Chattanooga’s Fiber Internet provider has some of the highest marks in the country for reliability, speed, and value. Only surpassed by the trillion-dollar company Google in customer satisfaction.

So how did such a small city manage to build such excellent internet infrastructure and what are some of the benefits? Let’s dive deep and take a look

Just How Fast is Chattanooga’s Internet Connection?

The EPB offers speeds exceeding 1Gbps to it’s Chattanooga customers. This speed blows the socks off the average speed for Americans at 25.86Mbps. That is not saying much though; the USA ranks 20th when it comes to average internet speed worldwide falling behind Romania, Latvia, and Jersey. And no, not the “Jersey” found on TV show The Jersey Shore. I’m talking about the small island between France and Britain!

Okay, So It’s Fast. How’d They Do it?

Chattanooga has around 180,000 people 100,000 of which are customers of the EPB. In 2010 they became the first Municipally-Owned ISP to provide fiber-optic connections to their entire community. These connections completely replaced the copper wiring of their old phone and internet networks. Unlike some other municipal networks, the infrastructure is citywide. It is not limited to a particular block or district which means that everyone within the city limits benefits from faster internet speeds. The EPB is owned by Chattanooga citizens just like Lakeland Electric is owned by the people of Lakeland, which means that all the money that was headed to outside private pockets goes back into public parks, roads, and other city-owned properties. These internet speeds don’t just benefit private citizens; they also attract businesses and entrepreneurs.

Why Fiber Optics and What is It?

Fiber optics is an advanced communication technology. It uses photons to transfer data at the speed of light. Old style cables use copper wires and electrons to transmit data; it can’t hit 1% of the speed that light can. This underlying technology is the reason why Chattanooga residents have such an advantage when it comes to speed with the internet.

What should other cities learn from Chattanooga?

Utilities owned by municipalities are nothing new. Even EPB was established to manage and provide for telephone communications for the people of Chattanooga.

Since municipalities around the country already serve their customers services like telephone, gas, electricity, and water; providing broadband isn’t such a stretch for them. That is why people around the country are starting to realize the necessity of internet and are asking these municipalities to begin competing with entrenched ISPs.

The Internet is a Utility and Should Be Treated That Way

Access to the internet has become a fundamental right these days. Every American should have the ability to access the internet for their school, work, and access to information. Providing the best possible internet speed should one of the main priorities for the municipalities. We certainly don’t discount the things we take for granted today, things like water, electricity, and gas are no doubt important. But we also think that high-speed internet connection to make it on that list somewhere as well.

Chattanooga’s Vision Has Reaped Them Untold Benefits, Other Cities Should Follow

Since the time EPB built out the city’s infrastructure, the entire city has been awash in new business growth. Before then, Chattanooga was struggling to find it’s place wedged in between Nashville and Atlanta. Chattanooga is the city which is saved by the internet.

According to an independent study published by the University of Tennessee, the study pointed out that EPB’s new network has led to the creation of approximately 5,200 new jobs in the city. That’s just jobs. The ancillary networking effects have been significant. It has earned the town around 1 billion dollars. When it comes to commerce, fast cheap internet is its jet fuel. That is why every other city should take notes from Chattanooga.

EPB has not only generated many new jobs, but it is also makes the most tax revenues for the city of Chattanooga. The money earned by all the employees is spent in the town which in turn fosters growth and posterity. That money is then paid to construct new fiber networks.

So Where Do We Sign Up?

All right, we get it. Chattanooga has blazing fast internet and is reaping the rewards. Today, this city has emerged to be one of the hotspots for multinational companies and businesses. Communities across the country are trying to copy Chattanooga’s success. If Chattanooga did it, Lakeland can too!!