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Bristol, Tenn., goes super high-speed with 1-gigabit broadband network

From the November 26, 2012 issue of Public Power Daily

Originally published November 26, 2012

By Jeannine Anderson

Bristol Tennessee Essential Services announced on Nov. 19 that 1-gigabit broadband service is now available to all of the municipal utility's 33,000 residential and business electric customers. 

Powered by Alcatel-Lucent's gigabit passive optical network technology, Bristol's network will accommodate speeds of up to 1 gigabit per second (Gbps), BTES said. That is 10 times faster than the 100-megabit-per-second speed the Federal Communications Commission set as a goal two years ago in its National Broadband Plan. In that plan, released in early 2010, the FCC said it wanted 100 million households in the United States to have affordable access to download speeds of at least 100 Mbps by 2020.

"Bristol now has one of the fastest, totally built-out networks in the United States," said Michael Browder, CEO of BTES. "To give an example of how fast, you can download about two hours of video or upwards of 200 songs in just six seconds."

"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," Browder said. "For our business customers, it opens the way for transporting and accessing 'big data', which is critical for economic development of the area."

One-gigabit service "also has tremendous benefits for education, from elementary through university levels," BTES said. For example, an elementary school located in the foothills of the Appalachian Mountains is combining SMART Board Technology and the BTES gigabit service to offer virtual field trips to learn about other parts of the world.  Recently, a classroom of 20 eight-year-olds "travelled" to Egypt to learn about the pyramids, assisted by their own on-site tour guide, BTES said. 

In addition to the high-speed data services, BTES's fiber optic system has allowed the city-owned utility to do many things with electric service that were unheard of a few years ago, the utility said. Customers with fiber services to their homes have automatic power outage detection, so they do not need to make a telephone call if their power goes out. The system also provides automatic meter reading and theft detection.


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