This story was updated at 7:50 p.m. on Friday, Feb. 1, 2019, with more information.
The Chattanooga municipal utility announced the fiber optic rate changes Friday during what it billed as a "HappyDay" announcement on its Facebook page, backed by dozens of cheering EPB workers.
EPB spokesman John Pless said EPB will now offer 300 Mbps for $57.99 a month, the price it previously charged for its 100 Mbps service. EPB also cut the price of its Gigabit per second (1,000 Mbps) service to $67.99.
"EPB continually strives to keep our community on the leading edge by delivering innovative solutions with world-class infrastructure," EPB President David Wade said in an announcement of the new rate changes, which began Friday. "Providing even more bandwidth and internet value is our way making sure our customers get the most from on-line opportunities for education, work, entertainment, and healthcare, particularly as they add more smart devices and appliances."
EPB, Chattanooga's electric utility provider of TVA power for the past 80 years, added fiber optic services including video, phone and internet, nearly a decade ago when EPB laid fiber optic lines along its 9,000 miles of electric wires. The telecommunications services share the fiber optic lines that also help EPB's "smart grid" electric network and EPB has grown over the past nine years to Chattanooga's biggest telecom provider with more than 100,000 customers of EPB's Fiber Optics.
Although EPB's telecom rates are not the lowest among 19 internet providers in Chattanooga, EPB does offer the fastest citywide internet service in any U.S. city. The city-owned utility upgraded its internet service to provide Gig service in 2010 when EPB began labeling Chattanooga "Gig City."
Chattanooga Mayor Andy Berke said EPB's fiber optic network "has definitely been a competitive advantage for our city."
"The biggest change this has made for us is that it has helped to fundamentally change the way we think about ourselves," Berke said. "We used not believe that we would compete in this tech and innovation world, but because we now have the fastest, cheapest and most pervasive Gig internet, we push hard to have those higher paying jobs come to our community every day."
The rate change will cut what more than 15,000 EPB customers signed up for Gig service now pay by $2 a month and make an upgrade to Gig service for most other EPB customers available for only $10 more a month.
Studies by SNL Kagan show that average U.S. households already have more than a dozen internet-connected devices such as gaming consoles, smart phones, tablets, PC's, thermostats, doorbells, security cameras, smart TV's, streaming media devices and more. Some experts predict the average smart devices per household will triple in the next few years.
"Just as the internet changed the way we send and receive information, it is now transforming the way we live with smart home automation and technology-driven healthcare options," Wade said. "The Gig is the best internet value available because it has the bandwidth to support many devices operating at the same time."
EPB's announcement marks the fourth speed increase Fi-Speed internet customers have enjoyed since it launched fiber optics services in 2009. The new download and upload speeds will remain symmetrical (300Mbps download/upload). In addition to the 300 Mbps and The Gig services, EPB remains the only provider to offer residential 10-Gigabit Fi-Speed Internet service, which continues to be available for $299.99.
EPB offers its telecom services to all of its electric customers within its 600-mile service territory. State law currently prohibits EPB from extending service beyond its power service area, EPB Vice President Hodgen Mainda said.
A nationwide study of internet connections using Federal Communications Commission data by BroadbandNow found that Chattanooga average broadband connection speeds are nearly 23 percent faster than the U.S. average and fiber optic internet is available to 95 percent of Hamilton County residents.
Contact Dave Flessner at email@example.com or at 757-6340