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Community Broadband Bits 24 - Dr Browder of Bristol, Tennessee

Dr Browder runs Bristol Tennessee Essential Services, the municipal utility on the southern side of Bristol's Virginia border. For our 24th Community Broadband Bits podcast, he tells us how they built a FTTH network and how it has helped the community.

Like so many others, they started by seeking to ensure maximum reliability of the electrical grid. Now they offer telephone, television, and Internet access to the whole community. In fact, they just announced that they can offer a gigabit to anyone in the area, making them the fifth such city in America to have that level of service available. All of them are community networks.

One of the things Dr. Browder explains is how connecting all their schools with 100 Mbps and 1 Gbps connections has led to stronger schools and new opportunities for kids to learn.

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Thanks to mojo monkeys for the music, licensed using Creative Commons.

Welcome to The Gigabit Club, BTES!

Bristol Tennessee Essential Services (BTES) announced November 19th that it now has the capability to offer 1 Gbps service. While the BTES rates do not reflect a standard cost for the service yet, 1 Gbps is offered as an option to businesses and households.

From the BTES press release:

"Bristol now has one of the fastest, totally built out networks in the United States. To give an example of how fast, you can download about two hours of video or upwards of 200 songs in just six seconds," said Dr. Michael Browder, CEO of BTES. "For our residential customers, that means one person in the household can download a movie, while another is playing an online game, while another is watching an HDTV program – all without slowing down any of the activities. For our business customers, it opens the way for transporting and accessing 'big data', which is critical for economic development of the area."

The product is already being used by local students. A nearby elementary school is combining the 1 Gbps service with SMART Board Technology and participating in virtual field trips around the globe. Twenty eight-year-olds recently "visited" Egypt for a class on the pyramids with the help of an on-site pyramid tour guide. Gee, second grade was not all that memorable when I was a kid, but it sure would be these days!

We are always pleased to learn of significant strides made by municipal networks and want to thank Bernie Arnason from Telecompetitor for covering this story. We also want to congratulate BTES for their entry into the Gigabit Club!

Chattanooga Launches Fastest Residential Broadband Tier: 150Mbps

It's fast and it's symmetrical. Chattanooga, the nation's largest muni FTTH network will be offering the fastest residential package in the country by the end of the month: 150 Mbps.

Chattanooga's Electric Power Board (EPB) is ahead of schedule in the fiber rollout, planning to offer triple-play services to all 145,000 residential customers in its electrical territory by the end of the year. Dave Flessner at the Chattanooga Times Free Press covered this story and the paper posted a short audio clip of EPB President Harold DePriest at the press conference.

EPBFi is up to almost 10,000 customers, a number expected to double by the end of the year.

Comcast is responding to this aggressive muni network:

Comcast Corp. remains Chattanooga's biggest video provider and has also increased the speed of its Internet offerings and the number of high-definition television channels and movies it provides for its subscribers.

Tennessee, home to the famous Tennessee Valley Authority that brought the electrical grid the mountains long neglected by the private sector, continues to value public ownership of infrastructure:

Hamilton County Mayor Claude Ramsey likened EPB's broadband expansions to what the Tennessee Valley Authority brought to the region during the Great Depression.

"What is happening today is equivalent to electricity coming to the valley in the 1930s," he said.

I'm guessing this 150Mbps plan is the first of more impressive announcements to come out of Chattanooga as they take advantage of this key community asset. The 150 Mbps press release is available here.

The article also noted a major economic development win in Bristol Tennessee - a $20 million newspaper printing plant that would not have been possible without their muni network. This testimonial is located toward the bottom of the page.

Hyatt [company VP] acknowledged that the high-speed data transfer and reliable fiber optics were the main reasons for locating the facility in the park. This service is essential as companies move deeper into the information age, especially with the timeliness of newspaper deadlines, multimedia, tricities.com, WJHL information, news, film and video that we have because of the fiber provided by BTES.