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Chattanooga First to Receive 1Gbps Internet

Monday Chattanooga, Tennessee, utility company EPB announced that the nation's first commercial 1 Gbps Internet access will be installed locally by the end of the year. Alcatel-Lucent also backed the announcement, revealing that Chattanooga's EPB will be one of three companies using its new gigabit passive optical network (GPON) technology.

"With our recent introduction of the 1 gigabit per second product, Chattanooga residents--both urban and rural--have access to Internet speeds over 200 times the national average," said David Wade, Executive Vice President and COO of EPB in Chattanooga, Tennessee. "This is the fastest Internet offer to a city in the U.S. and Alcatel-Lucent, through their expertise and incredible technology like the HPNA-ONT, has been an important partner in making this advancement a reality."

But while the new-found speed promises faster downloads and improved productivity, it doesn't come without a price. The new service will be available to all 170,000 businesses and homes in Chattanooga for $350 per month--not an ideal price tag for the general consumer. Harold DePriest, chief executive of EPB, openly admitted that the company didn't really know how to price a gig.

"We’re experimenting," he said. "We’ll learn."

According to the New York Times, the utility company started stringing fiber optics for its new smart-grid network to homes two years ago. The city received funds from the 2009 economic stimulus program to help pay for the new smart-grid project, however EPB also won a bonus $111 million grant from the Energy Department that accelerated its development.

The upcoming 1 Gbps Internet service--which piggybacks the smart-grid network--was not established using government funds, and uses Alcatel-Lucent optical network terminals to boost network speeds up to 1 Gbps.

Alcatel-Lucent said Monday that Hong Kong Broadband Network Ltd and Portugal's ZON Multimedia are the other two companies using the GPON technology.