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EPB Petitions FCC to Expand Fiber Optic Internet to Surrounding Communities
UPDATED: 4:37 PM EDT
From our partners at Nooga.com:

EPB announced Thursday that they have filed a petition with the Federal Communications Commission in an effort to override a Tennessee law that prohibits fiber optic, high-speed Internet availability to neighboring communities.

"At EPB, we believe that high-speed Internet is the critical infrastructure for the 21st century," EPB CEO Harold DePriest said in a prepared statement. "True broadband infrastructure provides access to information, jobs and education, and gives citizens and businesses the opportunity to fully participate inand to leadour emerging knowledge economy. Communities should have the right, at the local level, to determine their broadband futures."

EPB, which is owned by the city of Chattanooga, provides high-speed Internet access, video programming and voice services using a fiber optic communications network. The company can deliver these services to every home and business in its 600-square-mile electric service territory.

But beyond that, there's a "digital desert," where citizens and businesses have little or no broadband Internet service, according to a news release.

For years, EPB leaders have gotten regular requests to provide Internet infrastructure to surrounding communities.

State law allows EPB to provide telephone services anywhere in the state, and those services would be provided using a fiber optic communications system. But a "territorial restriction" prohibits EPB from using the same fiber optic network to provide Internet outside of its electric power service territory.

Congress requires the FCC to identify and remove barriers to the expansion of broadband Internet, according to the news release from EPB.

And EPB leaders said that the territorial restriction in state law should be removed if leaders want to provide widespread broadband availability.

If the territorial barrier is removed, EPB would be able to consider the requests of its neighbors to help them obtain access to broadband Internet services.

In considering those requests, EPB will apply the following fundamental principles:

EPB will extend service only into cities and counties that request EPB's presence.

EPB will not extend service outside its electric power service territory to any areas unless it is financially feasible to do so.

EPB has never used electric customer dollars to cross-subsidize Internet and video services and never will.

Click here to read the full petition and here for accompanying exhibits.

Click here for more background on the issue.

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