EPB Considers Plan to Take Gigabit Service To Rural S.E. Tennessee

Reported by: Bill Mitchell

Edited by: Ashley Henderson
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Updated: 7/16 7:19 pm
CHATTANOOGA, TN (WDEF-TV) - Chattanooga has the fastest internet service in the nation.
Its already attracted many companies who are using it to stay on the cutting edge of technology.
But within easy driving distance there are thousands of people who have no access at all to broadband.
EPB is hoping it will be allowed to take its gigabit service to all those rural counties.

DANNA BAILEY "..and then the orange is what they consider to be unserved areas."

Danna Bailey of EPB says neighboring communities are asking why they can't get broadband internet from Chattanooga's coveted fiber-optics line.
And the answer is: there's a state law against EPB providing internet and video services outside its electric service area.
But the FCC is now required by congress to identify and remove barriers all over the country to the expansion of broadband access.

DANNA BAILEY, EPB CORPORATE COMMUNICATIONS "Because Internet is such an important piece of the 21st century..such an important piece in economic development and education, healthcare .. we need it for everyday life."

A few weeks ago leaders of rural counties in southeast Tennessee got together in Decatur to talk about the lack of internet service.

GEORGE THACKER, RHEA COUNTY EXECUTIVE "We talked about providing internet to the whole region...Sequatchie and Bledoe really needs internet ..Its become a way of life...its just like electricity. "

EPB says it has nothing to do with providing electric power in those areas--just gigabit service.

ROBERT MCCARTY, COMMUNICATIONS, VOLUNTEER ELECTRIC COOPERTIVE "I think its potentially a great deal for a lot of out members." "We're just not allowed to provide the service and they are ....If they can jump that regulatory hurdle."

Volunteer Electric serves a sizable chunk of east Tennessee, including parts of Bradley county.
Danna Bailey says it would not extend internet service to any outlying area unless its financially feasible, and----

DANNA BAILEY "We only would be interested in going to communities that specifically ask us to come to them."

EPB is considering filing a petition to the FCC to extend broadband service to all of southeast Tennessee, but has not yet done so.




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