MetroNet Folded Into New EPB Internet

Friday, May 16, 2003

MetroNet, the high speed broadband data system launched earlier by the city, is being folded into a new Internet division at the Electric Power Board.

MetroNet had been touted by Mayor Bob Corker as helping lure high tech firms to Chattanooga by offering the fastest data lines at extremely low rates.

MetroNet signed up several downtown customers, but there were problems with the initial data transmission line.

Officials said the new EPB Internet will provide many of the same services envisioned for MetroNet.

Officials said it "will allow EPB Telecom to offer local businesses and Internet Service Providers (ISPs) access to the latest broadband transport technology at extremely competitive rates."

“The formation of EPB Internet is a testament to Mayor Bob Corker’s vision for the high-speed broadband access necessary to grow Chattanooga business, as well as his trust in EPB’s technological expertise to make it a reality for our City,” said EPB Chairman Joe Ferguson. “With EPB Internet we will not only be able to make his vision for low cost high speed Internet a reality for downtown businesses, but also for companies extending throughout our service area.”

Offering convenient telephone and Internet packages, as well as individual services, EPB Telecom will offer businesses seeking higher quality, larger bandwidth alternatives faster connectivity at a more competitive rate than is currently available in Chattanooga, it was stated. And the increased competition within Chattanooga’s telecommunications industry is expected to create a healthy environment for businesses, officials said.

“The superior bandwidth capability of EPB Telecom will not only provide Chattanooga’s existing business community with the tools to grow, but it will ultimately make our City more competitive with other regional cities courting new businesses,” said EPB President Harold DePriest.

He said the new venture will also allow EPB to serve the interests of the community as a whole. "Making the mayor’s vision for MetroNet a reality, EPB will offer the city an economic development package where qualifying incoming businesses will receive incentive rates for high speed broadband services for an extended period of time at rates competitive with other Southeastern cities.

"The cost for the technology to provide extended bandwidth services in Chattanooga is expected to be higher than was originally projected for MetroNet. Still, the cost savings realized by the local business community and local ISPs will be significant. In fact, ISPs will be able to buy wholesale transport services at a reduced price through EPB Telecom. EPB Telecom will seek an ISP content management partner for its business customers and intends to put the contract out for bid this summer.

"EPB Internet has already been approved and has undergone thorough testing at the current EPB facility. Initially starting its service downtown, EPB officials are planning to broaden their infrastructure to serve all businesses in the area with high speed broadband service."

Officials said Chattanooga is now connected to NASA at Huntsville, Ala., via a high-speed line. It already was hooked up to Oak Ridge, officials said.


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