2020 Trend: Gig City's second decade will deliver more speed, innovation

Fiber optic threads are laid out during an EPB installation at CityGreen Apartments on Friday, Jan. 15, 2016, in Chattanooga, Tenn.

When EPB launched its Internet, video and phone services a decade ago in conjunction with efforts to build a smarter electric grid, the city-owned utility projected it would speed internet service and attract about 30,000 to 35,000 customers for its telecom services.

The fiber optic network quickly exceeded those expectations, drawing more than 105,000 paying subscribers for its service and boosting speeds more than 200 times faster than the standard broadband connection with 10 Gig service across its 600-square-mile area. But more than just being a successful business venture offering faster video and gaming downloads, the $226.8 million investment EPB launched in 2009 on fiber optic technology has helped to transform EPB and the city it serves.

By boasting the fastest citywide internet service in the Western Hemisphere with Gig service in 2010 and 10 Gig service by 2015, EPB secured Chattanooga's claim as "the Gig City" and has helped anchor the Innovation District, with many businesses developed or drawn to Chattanooga by the fast internet links.