Country's Fastest Broadband Internet Will Soon Chug Along in Chattanooga

A Series Of Tubes

0312_Phone line room (Weir)via The Collegian

The fastest broadband in the country is coming to Chattanooga, Tenn., by the end of the year, as the small southern city beats Google at its own gigabit game, the New York Times reports. Chattanooga choo-choo indeed.

The small southern city's municipally owned utility is expected to announce today that it will offer ultra-high-speed Internet service up to one gigabit per second — that's 200 times faster than the average American broadband speed, in case you were counting. At $350 per month, the cost may be prohibitive for many customers, but the utility, EPB, is still working out the kinks: "We don't know how to price a gig. We're experimenting," said Harold DePriest, chief executive of EPB, in the Times.

The U.S. lags far behind other developed nations in broadband penetration, prompting the Obama administration to announce plans to improve matters. The federal broadband strategy calls for connecting 100 million American homes with 100-mbps broadband in the next 10 years. Chattanooga leaves those hopes in the dust.

Google has recently said it will provide 1-gbps service to a half million Americans, and 1,100 communities have applied to be Google's test case. The firm will choose a winner later this year.

Chattanooga's utility has been ramping up its Internet services for some time now. In June, EPB announced it had deployed its 100 percent fiber-optic network ahead of schedule — it's the largest of its kind in the country. Customers can already sign up for a 150 mbps symmetrical Internet service, called Fi-Speed Internet.

These superfast speeds are apparently just a bonus, however — EPB's overall goal is a networked smart grid that can provide increased power reliability and efficiency. The fiber-to-home network is the backbone of that plan, EPB says. If only all broadband providers were so forward-thinking.