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15 September 2015 · 3 min. read

Economic Study Affirms Value of EPB Fiber Optics Network

Chattanooga, TN (September 15, 2015) – As EPB Fiber Optics celebrates its sixth birthday by serving 75,725 homes and businesses, an independent study shows the city-owned utility’s fiber optic infrastructure has generated $865.3-million to $1.3-billion in economic and social benefits while creating between 2,800 and 5,200 new jobs.

The study by University of Tennessee at Chattanooga Finance professor Bento Lobo, examined the realized value of Chattanooga’s fiber optic infrastructure between 2011 and 2015. Dr. Lobo’s analysis examined the optic fiber network’s value to quality of life, education, health care, business, arts and culture, wired and automated homes and improved municipal services.  

"This analysis suggests that the true economic value of the fiber infrastructure is much greater than the cost of installing and maintaining the infrastructure,” Dr. Lobo said.

The study’s findings show that realized benefits have exceeded the projected benefits by at least 27 percent and, possibly, by as much as 95 percent. These estimates translate into benefits of between $2,832 and $3,762 per Hamilton County resident.

"Because of our fiber optic infrastructure, we are creating economic development opportunities and good, middle-class jobs today as well as positioning Chattanooga to compete in the innovation economy of tomorrow,” said Chattanooga Mayor Andy Berke.

“We are preparing young people in Hamilton County schools with the skills they need for the high-tech jobs that are being created,” said Hamilton County Mayor Jim Coppinger. “High-speed broadband delivers the fast connections and reliable video streaming that are critical to online learning and continuing education.”

The fiber optic network serves as the backbone for Chattanooga’s smart grid, which has delivered $237-million in benefits that include avoiding power outages by 124,734,486 customer minutes of interruption as of August 31, 2015.

“Our mission is to continue enhancing the value of the community’s investment as a powerful catalyst for economic growth, innovation and quality of life,” said EPB president and CEO Harold DePriest.

About EPB

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.

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