EPB's new 25-gig broadband service costs a whopping $1,500 per month

While XGS-PON may be all the rage among U.S. telecom operators, 10-gig service is old news for Chattanooga-based utility and broadband provider EPB. This week, it took things a step further with the launch of a new 25-gig service for consumers and businesses alike, claiming to be the first in the country to launch such an offering community-wide. But the service carries a steep price tag.

The operator originally launched 1 Gbps service in 2010 and a 10-gig offering in 2015. EPB’s new service is based on Nokia’s 25G PON technology. An operator representative told Fierce it’s been working with Nokia for the past few months to get the components and software needed for its transition from 10G to 25G. Though it was able to use the same optical line terminals that were already in its network, the representative explained the 25G upgrade required the installation of new software on that access equipment.

EPB’s representative told Fierce it decided to roll out 25G service as “it is the best option for some very high-bandwidth customers, like the Chattanooga Convention Center.” Indeed, the Convention Center was named as the operator’s first 25G customer, with Tennessee’s Hamilton County and the City of Chattanooga each allocating $151,000 to upgrade the facility’s network equipment and Wi-Fi access points to support the new service.

“On a broader scale, EPB is working to keep Chattanooga on the cutting-edge by offering the latest technologies and fastest speeds available to help our existing companies grow and draw new business investment,” the representative stated. “From our perspective, there’s tremendous value in future-proofing our infrastructure and offerings to ensure that we’re ready for whatever our customers may need.”

That said, the offering will also be available to residential customers – or at least those who can handle the hefty price tag. Customers taking the service will also need to upgrade their router.

EPB’s 25G service for businesses runs $12,500 per month, which its consumer offering is priced at $1,500 per month. For comparison, a 5-gig service from AT&T costs $180 per month for consumers and $395 per month for businesses. A 5-gig offer from Altice USA is also priced at $180 per month for consumers. Florida-based fiber startup is offering a 10-gig service for $120 per month following an initial promotional period.

The representative noted that currently “there are no comparable offerings available” in its service area, but the company expects “the price will decrease as the rest of the market catches up.”

Other operators across the country are exploring 25G. In December 2021, Florida-based Hotwire Communications staked a claim as the first U.S. player to deploy Nokia’s 25G technology, though it doesn’t yet appear to have rolled out a commercial offering. The same month, Frontier Communications announced it was trialing the vendor’s 25G PON with an eye toward future network upgrades.

AT&T joined the fray in June of this year, touting symmetrical speeds of 20 Gbps in a trial of Nokia’s 25G solution in its production network.