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EPB in the News

30 September 2022 · 5 min. read

EPB and 25G PON: from digitally divided to fiber-lined streets of gold

EPB’s 25 Gbps fiber broadband service is now a reality in Chattanooga and Hamilton County, Tennessee. They are once again the fastest and smartest internet community in America, maintaining their “Gig City” reputation thanks to the area’s visionary electric utility and broadband provider.

EPB's vision, dedication, and relentless pursuit of the best technologies to serve its customers have paved the streets with gold in Chattanooga and Hamilton County. They have turned more than $300 million in broadband loans and federal smart grid stimulus grants into nearly $2.7 billion in economic benefit to the area.

Chattanooga is welcoming college and university graduates, remote workers, web-scale professionals, entrepreneurs, start-ups, small and medium businesses, and Fortune companies to come, stay, and grow with them. Lining the streets with fiber optic cable and lighting it up with the fastest internet in the world makes a very compelling offer for upwardly mobile professionals and burgeoning technology start-ups. The availability of community-wide 25 Gbps will make telework, telehealth, and eLearning as effective as being physically present in an office, examination room, or classroom.

Aside from direct broadband internet access for consumers and businesses, EPB's 25 Gbps service can be utilized by wireless service providers for cell-site backhaul as they densify base stations to provide ultra-reliable low latency (URLLC) mobile services. The 25G PON-based service technology adds ample capacity for multi-layered commercial wireless technology operation at any address within the city and county to support seamless 4G, 5G, and Wi-Fi coverage. Paving the way for low-cost placement of 5G macrocells, small cells, and Wi-Fi 6 access points in countless locations, despite limited space and power. 5G radios can now be quickly deployed indoors or outdoors without concern for network resource delays and congestion. This will ultimately allow hundreds of 5G and Wi-Fi radios, IP video cameras, IP phones, smart TVs, and other smart devices to coexist within multi-tenant residential and business environments without compromising performance.

Apartment and commercial buildings, K-12 schools, libraries, universities, hospitals, hotels, manufacturing plants, stadiums, and convention centers will provide superior multimedia internet experiences for practically each tenant, student, patient, employee, spectator, and attendee. Traditionally, bandwidth has been limited for these places, especially in rural areas, due to the need for cost-prohibitive dedicated dark fiber or lit services and specialized hardware. Simultaneous 4K/8K UHD video streaming, Augmented Reality, Virtual Reality, and Holographic Conferencing can now be supported for those that live, work, watch, and play in these highly populated and transient locations.

At the dawn of almost every cutting-edge innovation that I have crossed paths with in my career, I have repeatedly heard the same question from friends, family, and colleagues (of course, not at Nokia): "What could anyone possibly do with all of that bandwidth?"

History has shown that innovation rarely leaves application far behind, regardless of how seemingly excessive or insane the speed or the capacity. Over the past decade, Google, Apple, Microsoft, Amazon, and countless others have generated billions in revenue on an internet with an average speed of about 99 Mbps. Albeit just the average, 99 Mbps no longer qualifies as an acceptable broadband speed by the FCC's standards. Simply imagine the wealth generated in the upcoming years as newly advancing applications drive average internet speeds exponentially towards 25 Gbps.

There is undoubtedly a younger generation working diligently in a lab, dorm, basement, or garage with incredible bandwidth-intensive business ideas, including social media and gaming, and others we have yet to think of, prime for venture capital funding. An exciting future awaits: the Metaverse, Holographic Conferencing, Autonomous Vehicles, Artificial Intelligence, Deep Machine-learning, Blockchain, and NFTs have uncharted trajectories. As virtually, there are no boundaries, except for those with limited internet.

The speed of our internet access will dictate the future, and according to, there are an estimated 42 million people across the US with inadequate or non-existent service. Without well-informed long-term network investments, they will remain isolated from steadily advancing online education, healthcare, and higher-paying employment options. Chattanooga is a magnificent and friendly place, but I do not believe EPB, nor the other utilities, are quite prepared to welcome the migration of 40+ million people seeking respectable internet speeds.

More than 100 billion dollars in broadband funding grants and loans are available through federal and state programs to assist in closing the digital divide. Who will provide digital equity and advanced socio-economic opportunities for their region next? Who will be the next municipality, cooperative, or service provider to introduce the world's fastest internet to their community? Nokia is actively partnering with various consultants, utilities, and providers to empower the many overlooked communities nationwide.

When the divide is closed, there will be a newer, more unified, equitable, and productive America, an Industry 4.0 America. It will be seamlessly integrated and automated from sea to shining sea with fiber-lined streets of gold. Absent of the infrastructure boundaries we see today and impervious to income or morphology, better education for our children and higher-paying jobs will become more abundant. Interconnected and automated smart grids will power one smart city after another, inclusive of smart homes, schools, universities, and hosts of modernized businesses supplying an unimaginable quality of life as well as environmental safety and sustainability.

Nokia is also collaborating with to assist visionary local utilities and service providers like EPB with identifying and acquiring broadband grants, loans, and additional resources. Just like in past industrial revolutions, Industry 4.0 is bringing great prosperity to the horizon. Does your community have the network to seize it? Nokia's PON technology leverages a future-proof pay-as-you-grow architecture. It features masterfully versatile optical line termination (OLT) shelf options and a Multi-PON line card capable of symmetrical speeds ranging from 100 Mbps to 25 Gbps. Many ground-breaking firsts have signified the beginning of Industry 4.0: one of those is 25 Gbps broadband service to just about anything you can toss a rock at near the heart of the Tennessee Valley. For those seeking more information on our industry-leading broadband solutions, please visit our Fiber Techzone website.

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