Chattanooga, TN–home of people telling major ISPs to kiss off…
With the looming merger of Comcast and Time Warner Cable, and the threat of the end of net neutrality by the FCC, things are looking bleak for the Internet in the United States. But alas! There is one bastion of freedom, one area where Comcast and the rest of the major ISPs can’t buy their way to prosperity, one last stronghold of the people taking back the Internet: Chattanooga, TN.
The city of Chattanooga has become a leader in forward-thinking when it comes to city-wide networks. The city owns and operates its own fiber network—with speeds much, MUCH faster than anything Comcast can offer—giving its residents fast Internet at a low cost, and opening the doors for major tech businesses to bring jobs and innovation to the city.
It started in 2008, after the city wanted to install a “smart” power grid, one that could also carry an Internet connection. With a $111 million grant from the Department of Energy, the project was completed in September of 2009 and now serves over 5,000 businesses and well over 50,000 households in the area, providing amazing connectivity and “bundled” (TV, phone, Internet) packages at a price that the major ISPs can’t compete with.
In fact, the big boys knew how much they couldn’t compete with the city-owned-and-operated network and so they did the only thing they knew how to do: try to muscle them out with lawsuits and money. Well, SURPRISE, because that didn’t work and now Chattanooga is laughing in the face of whatever silly speeds Comcast is offering as “blazing fast”. The highest price for the Chattanooga-owned network is $70 and you get 1 gigabit speeds; they also offer lower speeds like 100 Megabits which blows away anything other ISPs can offer.
This is the latest trend in an attempt to move away from traditional broadband connections owned by telecomm giants. Google Fiber has been popping up in cities across the country, and with Chattanooga showing that the government can step in and operate a successful network, it’s only a matter of time before more cities attempt to do the same.
The main issue is that major ISPs fail to innovate due to their massive reach. Why upgrade your infrastructure in the face of advancing technology when you can continue to gouge people from prices and terrible connectivity because there are no other options? Chattanooga Mayor Andy Berke said, “If the private sector is unable to provide that kind of bandwidth because of the steep infrastructure investment, then just like highways in the 1950s, the government has to consider providing that support.”
Boom. In your face.
For more information contact Chris L.