When Google announced last year it would help a local community begin offering gigabit-per-second Internet connections, more than 1,100 communities asked for help to gain the super-fast Web link.
Google expects to pick its winning city sometime this year. But Chattanooga, using its municipal utility and the help of a generous $111 million grant from Uncle Sam, sped past the cities vying for Google’s attention to become the first to offer gigabit-per-second Internet speed.
The new Internet link by EPB offers Web connections that are more than 200 times faster than the average Internet link.
“We’re setting a standard that most of the world won’t catch up to for probably another 10 years,” Chattanooga Mayor Ron Littlefield said in announcing the new service last September.
The $350-a-month initial price for the gigabit service may be too pricey for most consumers. But Chattanoogans have plenty of choices with its one-time monopoly telephone, cable and high-speed Internet businesses all invading each other’s telecom turf.
* EPB joined the fray of high-speed residential Internet and video services last September and already has more than 20,000 home subscribers toward its goal of serving at least 35,000 Chattanooga-area homes. The gigabit-per-second speed was built on the new fiber-optic network.
* Comcast, Chattanooga’s primary cable TV provider, also is speeding its Internet and upgrading its television services. To entice customers and keep those already hooked up to Comcast, the cable giant also is offering initial monthly pricing as low as $19.99 a month — or only a fraction of the EPB rate. In January, Comcast completed its purchase of a majority stake in NBC Universal, giving the cable giant access to more entertainment channels.
* AT&T is offering even cheaper long-term broadband and video services through its Internet protocol TV. Although the DSL Internet service is a bit slower than the fastest EPB and Comcast service, AT&T’s U-Verse offers the most TV channels at the lowest price point.