July 12, 2014 at 11:42 a.m. EDT

EPB Considers Petition to FCC to Enable Local Broadband Choice

EPB Considers Petition to FCC to Enable Local Broadband Choice

Utility examining options for responding to neighboring community requests for gigabit broadband service.

CHATTANOOGA, Tenn. (July 11, 2014) – Today EPB announced that the company is considering filing a petition to the FCC in an effort to respond to neighboring communities’ requests for access to the company’s gigabit enabled Internet service.

There are vast areas of Tennessee, surrounding EPB’s electric service territory, where citizens and businesses have little or no broadband Internet connectivity (see attached map provided by ConnectedTN). For several years EPB has received regular requests to help some of these communities obtain critical broadband internet infrastructure. However, since 1999, while state law has allowed EPB to provide phone services outside its electric service territory, it has prohibited EPB from offering Internet and video services to any areas outside its electric service area.

Recently, the barrier that prevents EPB from assisting its neighbors has attracted the attention of the FCC. Because of the importance of broadband Internet to the nation, the FCC is required by Congress to identify and remove barriers to the expansion of access to broadband Internet.

“At EPB, we believe that Internet access is the critical infrastructure for the 21st century. True broadband infrastructure provides access to information, jobs, and education and gives citizens and businesses the opportunity to fully participate in – and to lead – our emerging knowledge economy,” said Harold DePriest, EPB’s President and CEO. “Communities should have the right, at the local level, to determine their broadband futures.”

If barriers are removed, EPB would be able to consider the requests of its neighbors to help them obtain access to broadband Internet services. In considering those requests, EPB will apply the following fundamental principles:

  • EPB will extend service only into cities and counties that request EPB's presence.
  • EPB will not extend service outside our electric power service territory to any areas unless it is financially feasible to do so.
  • EPB has never used electric customer dollars to cross-subsidize Internet and video services and never will.