Chattanooga to get fastest Internet service in U.S.

Think your Internet service is fast? Probably not if you live in the United States -- with the rare exception of those living close to a major educational institution, perhaps.

But if you head over to, say, Japan -- where broadband service in 2007 was between 8-30 times faster than in the U.S. -- you may find it's a lot easier to load all those websites you love to browse. Residents in Chattanooga, Tenn., though, soon won't have much to be jealous about.

Why?

The fastest Internet service in the United States is coming to Chattanooga. EPB Fiber Optics, the city-owned utility, made the announcement with telecoms equipment maker Alcatel-Lucent today. The high-speed Internet service will be offered at year's end and will be the only 1 gigabit broadband service in the U.S. It will be 200 times faster than the nation's current national download speed average.

[RELATED: Is your Internet up to speed?]

"Chattanooga is light years ahead when it comes to providing ultra fast broadband," said Tom Edd Wilson, president and CEO of the Chattanooga Area Chamber of Commerce, in a press release. "By offering the fastest available speeds to a whole community comprising a diverse population living in both urban and rural areas, Chattanooga has become the living laboratory for today's innovations and tomorrow's companies."

Chattanooga's announcement comes at a time when the U.S. is attempting to upgrade its broadband network.

[Related: FCC wants more Americans with broadband Internet]

Earlier this year, the Obama administration presented its broadband strategy, which is aimed at bringing Internet access to hundreds of millions of U.S. homes with download speeds of at least 100 megabits a second by the year 2020. But with such a large territory to cover (and the U.S. not being as dense as, say, Japan) and questions about costs, there is debate over the best way to expand the nation's broadband network. According to studies, the U.S. lags behind other developed nations when it comes to quality, robust broadband network speeds.

With its own new, ultra-high-speed Internet plan, Chattanooga will become 10 times faster and 10 years ahead of the FCC's National Broadband Plan. The catch? The speedy service will cost you -- $350 a month. That price may appeal to some businesses, but households are unlikely to shell out that amount for faster access.

Still, Chattanooga and EPB officials are thrilled to bring America's fastest net service to their backyard.

"This groundbreaking commercial offering creates tremendous opportunities for residents and businesses in the region," said Harold DePriest, president and CEO of EPB. "With access to the fastest broadband speeds in the United States, Chattanooga represents the next frontier in communications technology, with limitless potential for new applications for education, entertainment, health care, industrial development and more."

Learn more about Chattanooga's 1 gigabit service here.

About the author

Daryl Paranada is the associate web producer for Marketplace overseeing all daily website content and production, as well as producing multimedia features -- including the popular economic explainer series Whiteboard -- and special projects. Follow him on Twitter @darylparanada.

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