Want fast Internet? Move to Chattanooga

Chattanooga, Tenn., is rolling out Internet speeds hundreds of times faster than the federal broadband benchmark through its city-owned utility company. 

The city announced Thursday that it would allow any of its residents to purchase 10 gigabit per second Internet connections for the price of $299 per month — in what is the largest rollout of those hyper speeds in the country. 

{mosads}The Tennessee town has offered 1 gigabit speeds for the past five years through its fiber network, which was helped along by tens of millions of dollars in federal grants. 

To put the speed in context, 10 gigs is 400 times faster than the 25 megabit per second (Mbps) baseline broadband speed the Federal Communications Commission set earlier this year. Many homes, however, have speeds in single-digit Mbps. 

Two other cities in North Carolina and Vermont have offered the 10 gig speeds, but to a more limited population. Chatanooga has a population of about 170,000. 

Observers say the massive bandwidth is overkill for any traditional household at this point. It is unclear how many residents will take up the offer of speeds usually only needed for large businesses. The city already offers its 1 gig speeds at a fraction of the cost and has attracted about 6,300 customers, according to city officials.

“With 10,000 Mbps of Internet speed, that’s enough bandwidth to stream 1,754 online movies all at the same time – in HD – from a single Internet connection without experiencing any buffering or lag time,” the city boasted.  “While that’s more bandwidth than you can imagine needing now – it’s an enormous blank slate of possibility for whatever opportunities innovative thinkers can dream up next.”

Verizon has recently tested out a 10 gig fiber network. It said the speed would only be attractive to businesses at first but noted that will change with the use of high-definition video and an increasing amount of connected devices in homes. 

Other large Internet service providers, such as AT&T and Comcast, have rolled out 1-2 gig speeds in limited areas. And Google Fiber has also expanded its 1 gig network to a number of cities. 

Chattanooga has been at the center of a federal fight as the Obama administration and the FCC sought to override state laws that put restrictions on the expansion of city-owned broadband networks, which they allege are being pushed by major Internet providers seeking to cut out competition.  

The FCC earlier this year voted to override a Tennessee law that prevented the city from expanding the super-fast Internet service outside the boundaries of its utility service. Tennessee is fighting the move in court. 

Tags Broadband Chattanooga Municipal broadband

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