Chattanooga’s speedy Internet may give it jobs edge

Chattanooga Farmers Market, May 23, 2010 15
Image by Larry Miller via Flickr

Chattanooga has become the first U.S. city to provide blazing-fast Internet — with download speeds 20 times faster than anything now offered to big business users in Nashville or anywhere else, for that matter.

The question now is whether Chattanooga’s high-tech fiber-optic system puts Music City behind in the race for new jobs.

The high-speed service, provided by city-owned utility Electric Power Board, is matched only by Hong Kong and a few other cities on Earth. Faster Internet connections that push more data through bigger digital pipes are a crucial calling card when prospecting for 21st-century jobs, economic development officials say.

“The availability of high-speed broadband is one of the top considerations of companies looking for new sites,” said Matt Kisber, Tennessee’s commissioner of economic and community development. “In comparison with what Chattanooga now has to offer, Nashville has a lot of catching up to do.”

Introduction of the service comes amid a growing debate among city governments, companies and nations about how — and at what cost — to best pursue the next wave of broadband technology as a gateway to a brave new world of high-tech, Internet-based products and services.

The Chattanooga broadband is available to all 170,000 customers of that city’s EPB, which serves all or parts of five Tennessee and three north Georgia counties. The system offers broadband downloads of up to 1 gigabit, or 1,000 megabits.

The speeds are 200 times faster than the average broadband speed in American homes, and 20 times faster than previously existing premium services.

The new ultra-fast Internet service has helped put Chattanooga “on the short list of progressive communities in the world,” Chattanooga Mayor Ron Littlefield said recently. The city also has a new Volkswagen assembly plant and the University of Tennessee at Chattanooga’s SimCenter computational engineering lab.

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About Mark Milliman

Mark Milliman is a Principal Consultant at Inphotonics Research driving the adoption and assisting local governments to plan, build, operate, and lease access open-access municipal broadband networks. Additionally, he works with entrepreneurs and venture capitalists to increase the value of their intellectual capital through the creation of strategic product plans and execution of innovative marketing strategies. With more than 22 years of experience in the telecommunications industry that began at AT&T Bell Laboratories, Mark has built fiber, cable, and wireless networks around the world to deliver voice, video, and data services. His thorough knowledge of all aspects of service delivery from content creation to the design, operation, and management of the network is utilized by carriers and equipment manufacturers. Mark conceived and developed one of the industry's first multi-service provisioning platform and is multiple patent holder. He is active in the IEEE as a senior member. Mark received his B.S. in Electrical Engineering from Iowa State University and M.S. in Electrical Engineering from Carnegie Mellon University.
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