Chattanooga was one of the first cities in the nation to introduce Fiber Internet to its residents through city-owned utilities. Other cities have slowly been jumping on board with the help of Google Fiber and other organizations. Now the gigabit Internet craze has returned to Tennessee.
Tullahoma is a small city in the south-central part of Tennessee. Its population is estimated at a little over 18,000. Starting this week, the city will start delivering 1Gbps fiber Internet to its subscribers. The Tullahoma News reports that LightTUBe, the city-owned utility company, will be upgrading residents who already subscribe to its 300Mbps plan will be automatically upgraded to 1Gbps at no extra charge over the next few days. The service is pretty expensive at $300, but it’s consistent with the pricing of Chattanooga’s service.
The high price obviously keeps many residents from being able to access gigabit speeds, and the city seems fine with that. Tullahoma Utilities Board Chairman Bob Lindeman says that upgrading the city’s infrastructure to 1Gbps speeds is more about attracting businesses to the area:
“It shows that we can provide anything they want. The TUB board made the decision to build a fiber to the premise system for economic development reasons, and it is paying off for our community. We want to make Tullahoma a much more desirable location for technology companies to locate, due to our ultra-high speed Internet and our highly skilled workforce. Tullahoma is light years ahead of most cities in the United States with the ability to offer these incredibly fast Internet speeds, and we look forward to the benefits this will bring to our city.”
Offering businesses gigabit Internet is definitely a major benefit for any community, but it may be a little shortsighted to keep access out of the hands of most residents. A rural ISP in Vermont is offering 1Gbps speeds to its residents for only $35 a month, and they are likely to benefit greatly. The rollout of Google Fiber in Kansas City has also proven to be incredibly beneficial not just for startups, but for the community as a whole.
Regardless, it’s encouraging to see gigabit Internet rolling out to more cities across the U.S. Sooner or later, the bigs ISPs will have to stop pretending that Google Fiber and its ilk don’t exist. They can’t feign ignorance forever.