If this keeps up, then Tennessee soon might have a new state motto — the Gigabit State. Today, the town of Bristol (the self proclaimed birthplace of country music) announced it is now offering a 1 Gigabit per second broadband to its residents and local businesses in a 280-square-mile service area. It is not clear how much the gigabit-per-second service is going to cost per month.
The network has been developed by local electric company, the Bristol Tennessee Essential Services (BTES) using Alcatel’s (s ALU) gigabit passive optical gear. Chattanooga, Tenn. became the first city in the U.S. with gigabit speeds about 18 months ago and alos relied on its local electric utility to build the fiber network. It did so despite aggressive opposition from incumbent broadband providers.
A growing number of smaller towns are moving towards the gigabit broadband. Google Fiber recently went live in Kansas City. Several Ohio college towns are working with Gig.U project and Gigabit Squared on ultrafast broadband networks. The Gig.U group is working on rolling out networks in the state Maine and the city of Atlanta. Chicago has gotten into gigabit action as well.
The cities are taking matter into their own hands mostly because the current broadband market is essentially a comfortable duopoly of cable and telecom operators with little competitive pressure and as a result no incentive to boost the bandwidth and cut prices.