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Chattanooga, TN. (July 24, 2014) – Today EPB announced that it has filed a petition to the FCC in an effort to respond to neighboring communities’ requests for access to the company’s gigabit enabled high-speed Internet service.
EPB offers high-speed Internet access, video programming and voice services using a fiber optic communications network that allows the company to deliver these services to every home and business in its 600 square mile electric service territory. Yet, a digital desert exists just outside of EPB’s electric service territory, where citizens and businesses have little or no broadband Internet connectivity.
For several years EPB has received regular requests to help some of these communities obtain critical broadband Internet infrastructure. Under current Tennessee law, EPB is authorized to provide telephone services anywhere in the state, which would be provided using a fiber optic communications system. However, a territorial restriction prohibits EPB from using the same fiber optic communications network to provide advanced services such as high-speed Internet outside of its electric power service territory.
Because of the importance of broadband Internet to the nation, the FCC is required by Congress to identify and remove barriers to the expansion of access to broadband Internet. EPB asserts that the territorial restriction in Tennessee law should be removed if the Congressional objective of advancing widespread availability of broadband is to be carried out.
"At EPB, we believe that high-speed Internet is the critical infrastructure for the 21st century. True broadband infrastructure provides access to information, jobs, and education and gives citizens and businesses the opportunity to fully participate in – and to lead – our emerging knowledge economy," said Harold DePriest, EPB’s President and CEO. "Communities should have the right, at the local level, to determine their broadband futures."
If the territorial barrier is removed, EPB would be able to consider the requests of its neighbors to help them obtain access to broadband Internet services. In considering those requests, EPB will apply the following fundamental principles:
Established as an independent board of the City of Chattanooga in 1935, EPB is a municipally-owned utility that provides electric power and fiber optic communications services as a means of promoting economic development and enhancing quality of life across the local area.
EPB serves nearly 180,000 homes and businesses in a 600 square-mile area that includes greater Chattanooga, as well as parts of surrounding counties and areas of North Georgia.
In 2010, EPB became the first provider in the United States to deliver up to 1 Gig (1,000 mbps) internet speeds utilizing a community-wide fiber optic network that provides access to every home and business in its service area. In 2015, EPB became the first (and to date) only American ISP to make up to 10 Gig (10,000 mbps) internet speeds accessible to all of its residential and commercial customers as a standard offer.
EPB has also utilized its community-wide fiber optic network to deploy the most advanced and highly automated smart grid power management system in the nation. In recognition of EPB’s groundbreaking infrastructure, the Department of Energy and Oak Ridge National Laboratory are utilizing EPB’s smart grid as a national model for researching and developing best practices. EPB is also the first major power distribution utility to earn the USGBC’s PEER certification for having a highly automated, modernized electric power grid.