EPB Lays Out Plans To Provide All Of Bradley County With High-Speed Internet, TV Service; Cost Is Up To $60 Million

Thursday, March 5, 2015 - by Mark Pace

In what was hailed as a big win for rural Bradley Countians, EPB officials laid out a plan Thursday night to reach the community with currently unavailable high-speed internet.

EPB CEO Harold DePrist told a capacity crowd at the Bradley County Courthouse that the expansion would serve roughly 1,000 people, about 800 of whom have no current option other than dial-up.

The Federal Communications Commission voted 3-2 last week to overrule Tennessee law and allow EPB to expand its fiber optic service.

Now, EPB is waiting on the exact wording of the ruling prior to seeking to work out legal and technical issues.

However, EPB is still restricted and unable to serve outside its elected service area due to current state laws in place, Mr. DePriest said. EPB will offer fiber optic service to the county if current legislation, Senate Bill 1134 or House Bill 1303, pass and allow any Internet provider to serve anyone in the state of Tennessee, he stated.

“We have people who live within half a mile of our service territory … who have nothing but dial-up, and that doesn’t make any sense” Mr. DePriest said. “In a lot of cases we can get to those areas fairly easily.”

Mr. DePriest is counting on state legislators to pass the bills and is confident it will happen relatively quickly. He has the backing of several key legislators who attended the meeting.

 The legislation would remove territorial restrictions and provide the clearest path possible for EPB to serve customers and for customers to receive high-speed internet.

State Rep. Dan Howell, the former executive assistant to the county mayor of Bradley County, was in attendance and called broadband a “necessity” as he offered his full support to helping EPB, as did Tennessee State Senator Todd Gardenhire.

“We can finally get something done,” Senator Gardenhire said. “The major carriers, Charter, Comcast and AT&T, have an exclusive right to the area and they haven’t done anything about it.”

Rep. Howell and Mr. DePriest said they are unsure of exactly when the vote will take place, but Rep. Howell said it would be before the Tennessee legislators take a recess in mid-April.

Joyce Coltrin, a member of the group “Citizens Striving to be Part of the 21st Century, said, “I am hearing many legislators today talking about states’ rights and saying that the Federal Communications Commission has no right to go around state laws concerning the internet. I suggest that the logical extension of that thought would be that a state has no right to go around its commitment to the betterment of its citizens by denying access to the internet.”

Ms. Coltrin, Rep. Howell and Mr. DePriest and others urged those in Bradley County to write to their representatives in Nashville and tell them why they need high-speed internet.

President and CEO of Cleveland Utilities Ken Webb also spoke in support of EPB’s plan. “This is the most exciting thing that I know has come about in broadband in Cleveland and Bradley County in years, so we’re certainly behind this,” he said.

If the legislation is passed, EPB will move quickly, Mr. DePriest said. In four months, EPB would be able to start construction on the project. The eventual goal of EPB is to provide for all of Bradley County. For comparison, EPB covered 600 square miles with the fiber optic cables in two and half years in Hamilton County.

Mr. DePriest said EPB will not use taxpayer money. The project will cost $50 million-$60 million to cover the county and EPB will have to “raise some money,” he said.

“We paid for (the Hamilton County project) with our own resources, and it’s paying off quite well,” Mr. DePriest said.

 He pointed out that in some of the most rural areas the company would be lucky to come out even, but EPB will still be able to conduct business in the county because it will still make an overall profit in Bradley County.

De-bundled internet packages from EPB range from $58 to $70, Mr. DePriest said amid cheers from the crowd. Many in attendance pay more than twice that amount for much slower service, they said.

For further information and questions about EPB and its potential service in Bradley County, the company will send information to those interested. To receive information, contact EPB.

 

 


Man Convicted For 2nd Rape Ordered To Begin Serving 10 Years For First Rape

City Officer Suffers Hand Injury As Motorist Speeds Off In Early Morning Incident On W. 25th Street

Lorie Collier Named New Principal At Calvin Donaldson Environmental Science Academy


A man who has been convicted of two rapes was ordered on Monday to begin serving a 10-year sentence on the initial rape from 2016. Anthony Vance, 56, had been given a suspended sentence on ... (click for more)

A Chattanooga Police officer suffered a hand injury when a motorist sped off early Monday morning on W. 25th Street near Williams Street. Officers had been speaking to the driver of a yellow ... (click for more)

Hamilton County Schools has selected Lorie Collier to be the new principal at Calvin Donaldson Environmental Science Academy. Ms. Collier joins Hamilton County Schools from Knox County Schools ... (click for more)


Breaking News

Man Convicted For 2nd Rape Ordered To Begin Serving 10 Years For First Rape

A man who has been convicted of two rapes was ordered on Monday to begin serving a 10-year sentence on the initial rape from 2016. Anthony Vance, 56, had been given a suspended sentence on the earlier case. He will be sentenced on the second rape from Jan. 3, 2018, next Monday. A portion of that sentencing hearing was held on Monday. Prosecutor Miriam Johnson said Vance ... (click for more)

City Officer Suffers Hand Injury As Motorist Speeds Off In Early Morning Incident On W. 25th Street

A Chattanooga Police officer suffered a hand injury when a motorist sped off early Monday morning on W. 25th Street near Williams Street. Officers had been speaking to the driver of a yellow Ford Mustang when he suddenly drove off. His side mirror hit the officer's hand so hard that it bent the mirror. The vehicle hit a nearby tree and utility pole. The driver then got out ... (click for more)

Opinion

Would Foreign Teachers Make Better Instructors For Inner-City Students? - And Response

It seems a week doesn't go by, sometimes more in one week, without Roy or someone writing some coded messages denigrating inner-city schools and the students (using another code-hint hint) that attend inner-city schools. Which reminded me of something from decades ago about teachers from foreign countries perhaps making better instructors for inner city students. At least those ... (click for more)

Roy Exum: Let’s Start With Truth

By all accounts the public schools in Chattanooga and Hamilton County are far from what the average taxpayer would want them to be. Our schools are our number one priorities, this easily reflected by the fact they now receive over 60 percent of the total county budget -- the most money ever allocated to public education in history -- and the unbridled desire of our booming area ... (click for more)

Sports

UTC Soccer Records Another Shutout At Citadel

The Chattanooga women’s soccer team earned a record-tying eighth shutout with a 2-0 win over The Citadel Sunday afternoon in Southern Conference action at the Washington Light Infantry Field. The Mocs improve to 8-4-3 on the year and 3-2-1 in league action. The Citadel falls to 5-6-2 overall and 1-4 against the conference. The Mocs matched a school record eight shutouts set ... (click for more)

Dan Fleser: 91-Yard Drive Was UT Highlight

KNOXVILLE – Of all the work that went into Tennessee’s first SEC football victory in 11 months, Jeremy Pruitt seemed to linger over one achievement in particular. The 91-yard touchdown drive in the fourth quarter that clinched the Vols’ 20-10 victory over Mississippi State was the best combination of execution and effort. It drew first mention by UT’s coach on Monday, in advance ... (click for more)