Customer Success Story
Gigabit Fiber Creates Economic Value and Social Good for Chattanooga
Affordable gigabit internet has transformed Chattanooga into a technology and research hub. Plentiful, low-cost connectivity has attracted new businesses and new talent, creating as much as $1.3 billion in economic value.
In net economic value and social benefits due to fiber network
Free Internet to underserved students during pandemic to reduce the digital divide
New revenue streams with expanded network capacity
Network operations with a shared infrastructure for electrical power and broadband
Electric Power Board (EPB) is a municipal utility that operates as an independent board of the City of Chattanooga to provide electric power and fiber optic services to the greater Chattanooga area.
EPB has played a critical role in transforming Chattanooga into a vibrant smart city. With affordable gigabit fiber available to all homes and businesses, Chattanooga is fueling economic growth.
Shane Sexton, executive corporate technical consultant, and Joe Freeman, network engineering manager, have been at the heart of this transformation as they design and build EPB’s network.
“The capability that EPB brings is a game changer,” Sexton says. “EPB offers gig circuits that are incredibly affordable, especially compared to other cities.
Today, EPB is one of the largest publicly owned power distributors in the U.S. It serves more than 170,000 homes and businesses with gigabit fiber, delivering triple play services to residential customers, business services, and wholesale services to other service providers. EPB’s fiber network has been built on a foundation of Juniper routing since the start.
Most recently, EPB expanded its Internet edge to enhance its peering and transit connections to support growing demand for residential and business services. To support increased redundancy and capacity at the edge, EPB deployed Juniper Networks MX10008, MX10003, and MX204 Universal Routing Platforms.
The expansion of the Internet edge with Juniper allows EPB to create new revenue opportunities. “Implementing new capabilities with the MX10000 line of routers has given us the ability to peer with Ashburn and Atlanta facilities so we are less reliant on transit providers,” Sexton says. “Because we now have a presence in the carrier hotels, we can offer last-mile services to other carriers.
With gigabit fiber available to every home and business, Chattanooga has created economic growth that has revitalized the city. Fast, affordable broadband has transformed Chattanooga into a technology and research hub and has attracted many new employers and start-up ventures. Seven venture capital funds are now located in the city, as are 600 health-related companies. New business parks and housing have popped up around the city as well.
A citywide fiber network has delivered an estimated $865 million to $1.3 billion in net economic and social benefits to Chattanooga in the first five years after fiber deployment, according to the University of Tennessee at Chattanooga. That’s a greater return on investment than EPB anticipated at the start. The university study also found that during that same initial period, between 2800 and 5200 jobs were created directly because of the fiber network. Residents also received between $2400 and $3700 in value due to lower Internet prices from increased competition and avoided utility rate hikes due to a smart power grid.
The community has attracted $110 million in federally funded research for smart cities because of the gigabit infrastructure and expertise.
Published December 2020