If we had the kind of competition in the communications sector that was envisioned in the Telecommunications Act back in 1996 we'd already have this technology nationwide. The Act's stated objective was to open up markets to competition by removing regulatory barriers to entry: The conference report refers to the bill “to provide for a pro-competitive, de-regulatory national policy framework designed to accelerate rapidly private sector deployment of advanced information technologies and services to all Americans by opening all telecommunications markets to competition."
But the telecoms, cable cos, and the other big boys in the sector chose instead to fight the Act in court, congress and by just plain ignoring it and daring the government to prosecute or their struggling competitors to sue them. When Bush came into office he made Michael Powell (Colin Powell's son) head of the FCC who put the final nail in the coffin.
So instead of competing for customers with faster, better, and cheaper technology the big boys chose to slow walk the broadband build out in the USA during the 2000s letting us fall behind countries like France and South Korea that foster real competition where customers get much faster speeds at a much better price. Instead our communications sector focused on buying up market share through mergers and acquisitions, gobbling each other up and killing off smaller competitors so they could try to dominate markets and set monopoly or cartel pricing, better product be damned.
I'm all for EPB building the fiber optic smart grid and forcing Comcast and AT&T to invest and compete. That will be good for Chattanooga and it's businesses and people in the area. Competition will force all companies in the sector to innovate and provide jobs and profits at companies that build the hardware and software they need to do it.