EPB debuts 2.5-gig internet tier, advances quantum network

EPB has rolled out a new 2.5-gig residential internet service, adding another symmetrical speed tier on its fiber optic network in Chattanooga, Tennessee.

The 2.5-gig service includes the installation of EPB’s Wi-Fi 6e router and will be available throughout its service area at $97.99 per month. VP Katie Espeseth said EPB is committed to “maximizing options on [its] network with service up to 25-gig.”

“High bandwidth applications are here to stay,” Espeseth said in a company announcement.

As a city-owned provider, EPB turned up 1 Gbps service for Chattanooga in 2010, followed by a 10-gig offering in 2015. In 2022, EPB premiered its 25-gig service, leveraging Nokia’s 25G PON technology, and claimed to be the first in the country to launch such an offering community-wide. The 25-gig service carries a steep price tag, at $1,500 per month.

In an interview with Fierce in May, Chattanooga Mayor Tim Kelly noted the role local utility and broadband provider EPB has played in enhancing broadband access, adding “it also helps that we’re sitting on a key node, obviously, for fiber in the eastern U.S.”

While Chattanooga has been ahead of the game with multi-gig connectivity, other providers are catching up.

In October, Google Fiber announced its plans for the rollout of a symmetrical 20-gig service for select residential and business customers by the end of this year. Google FIber will also tap into Nokia’s 25G-PON system to make the service a reality.

EPB quantum network developments

EPB has also made strides with its quantum network recently. For one, the University of Tennessee at Chattanooga (UTC) became the first academic institution to be connected to EPB Quantum Network this month.

The company claimed this makes UTC “the only university in the country with access to a managed, commercial quantum network.”

EPB launched its Quantum Network in 2022, starting a new subscription model where developers can lease parts of the network to test their nascent quantum technologies.

EPB’s 9,000-mile community fiber optic network in Chattanooga is separate from the quantum network, which is specifically dedicated to working with companies that are proving out and commercializing their quantum tech.

Ahad Nasab, interim dean of the UTC College of Engineering and Computer Science, said the connection to EPB Quantum Network will be “important for continued development of our teaching and applied research and development efforts in the engineering and computer science programs.”

Additionally, EPB announced this month that it will collaborate with Qunnect — another commercial quantum networking company — to test interoperability between each of their technologies.

A spokesperson for EPB told Fierce that commercially available networks like EPB Quantum Network and Qunnect’s GothamQ have been unique in the U.S., where quantum networks have existed in “isolated research facilities as temporary experiments.”

The spokesperson said in order to commercialize the deployment of quantum networks, it is “essential” to show that the networking hardware components that have been developed and manufactured by different companies will work together.