Comcast Decides Competing Against Municipal Fiber Is Just Fine, Brings 2 Gbps Service to Chattanooga

Chattanooga: pretty blue bridges, municipal broadband, and Comcast. (ash)

Chattanooga: pretty blue bridges, municipal broadband, and Comcast. (ash)


While most of us languish away without even a flicker on the horizon of someday getting gigabit speeds or real broadband competition, residents in a handful of cities are lucky enough to have both. This summer, Chattanoogans will join the shortlist of Americans who not only have blazing fast internet, but also a choice of providers.

The Times Free Press reports that Comcast is promising Chattanooga the same “Gigabit Pro” service they’re rolling out elsewhere: fully symmetrical 2 Gbps, fiber-to-the-home connections. The roll-out is planned to begin in June and will reach up to 200,000 homes.

“But wait,” you might say. “Chattanooga sounds really familiar. Something something municipal fiber internet?”

Chattanooga, as we’ve discussed several times over the past year, is well known for its super fast, globally competitive symmetrical gigabit fiber network — a public utility that the FCC recently granted permission to expand, despite restrictions in Tennessee state law.

Comcast’s previous Gigabit Pro announcements have been oh-so-coincidentally appearing in cities that are either currently targeted by Google Fiber (as in Atlanta) or by AT&T’s GigaPower service (as in Florida and California). So in bringing their new service to Chattanooga, they’re doing essentially the same thing, only targeting the public sector.

Chattanooga created its municipal fiber network in the first place because existing, incumbent ISPs (*coughComcastcough*) were unwilling or unable to provide high-speed, reliable, affordable service to the city and its residents. We’re sure it’s entirely coincidental that Comcast should have chosen now, right after the city’s gotten permission to expand and improve their popular network even farther, suddenly to bring their A-game to town.

Comcast is staunchly against the existence of publicly-owned or -operated networks and does not believe it should have to compete with them. The company and its executives work fiercely to make sure that as many states as possible (currently about 19) pass or maintain protectionist laws that block public networks.

There’s still no word on how much Comcast plans to charge for their double-gigabit service. Chattanooga’s Electronic Power Board (EPB) currently offers its 1 Gbps service to area residents for about $70 per month. Google Fiber also runs $70 monthly, in cities where it’s offered, and AT&T more or less matches the price point if there’s a competitor in town.