High-speed, reliable, affordable internet is coming to customers in KUB’s service area
In 2019, U.S. Census Bureau data indicated that over 15 percent of Knox County residents did not subscribe to internet services. This need for high-speed internet became more obvious during the pandemic, as large portions of the population moved to online learning, work and other remote activities.
Now, in an 8-0 vote, Knoxville City Council approved the Knoxville Utility Board’s (KUB) proposal to provide public fiber broadband to its customers in Knox County and parts of Union, Grainger, Jefferson, and Sevier counties. Service could begin as early as 2022 with a seven-year total rollout plan, estimated to add 200 new KUB jobs.
Under KUB’s current proposal, this upgrade would provide “reliable electricity service, better efficiency, and shorter downtimes in the event of power outages.” KUB’s estimated internet plans would include upload and download speeds of 1 gigabit-per-second and cost around $65 per month, faster and more affordable than current offerings.
According to an economic impact study conducted by The Boyd Center for Business & Economic Research, KUB’s current plan could lead to monthly consumer savings between $11 and $51, when compared to current providers, and yearly savings of anywhere from $132 to $612. Overall, this upgrade could cause a $18.5 to $85.7 million increase in Tennessee incomes each year if at least 35% of households adopt the new internet service.
This move follows EPB becoming the first company in the country to offer internet access well above the national average over a decade ago in Chattanooga. Earlier this year, independent research of EPB’s efforts found $2.69 billion in community benefit during the first 10 years of EPB’s internet service offering. Other benefits include over 9,500 created or retained jobs, reduced power outages, closing of the digital divide in K-12 education, decreased carbon emissions and lower unemployment rates, even during the pandemic.
TAEBC champions advanced energy as a job creation and economic development strategy. As frequently emphasized by Tennessee Governor Bill Lee, having access to fast, reliable internet is key to continued economic growth in the state. Expanded broadband services can help communities thrive and innovate. TAEBC welcomes this latest decision to upgrade KUB’s broadband offering.