The plan certainly isn't cheap, at $300 a month. You might wonder why anyone would even want such a service. But as more of our everyday objects become smart appliances, our bandwidth consumption is set to exceed expectations. And this new service from Chattanooga offers more evidence that a national race to 10 Gbps is on.
Chattanooga is best known among tech wonks as the city that was selling Google Fiber-like speeds to its residents years before Google Fiber was even a thing. As Google, Comcast and other players have built out their own next-gen networks, however, Chattanooga has forged ahead again. In addition to the 10 Gbps residential service, the city's electric utility, EPB (which also manages the public broadband service) has also begun offering 3 Gbps and 5 Gbps plans to business customers. EPB declined to disclose the price of those rates.
Just looking at the 10 Gbps plan for $300 a month, though, it's clear that EPB is trying to undercut some of the nation's biggest providers on price. Comcast's Gigabit Pro charges customers the same price as EPB, but maxes out at "only" 2 Gbps — a fraction of what Chattanooga's offering.
You can only take advantage of EPB's service, of course, if you live within its 600-square-mile service area. The public utility has complained that state laws prevent it from expanding farther, and earlier this year it persuaded the Federal Communications Commission to intervene on its behalf to do away with those restrictions. That prompted a huge debate in Washington over municipal broadband, and the legality of a federal agency interposing itself between a city and the state government that oversees it.
Despite all that, EPB's fiber network is giving current customers a new option, one that'll likely spur other Internet providers to follow suit sooner or later.