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Bristol, TN Planning to Offer 1 Gig Service

November 21, 2012

Another Tennessee city is getting into the super high-speed broadband business. According to GigaOm, Bristol, which was already home to a government-owned network, has launched a one gigabit broadband service plan. The service will be available to businesses and individuals in a 280-mile area.

Here is the portion of the story that caught our eye: “It is not clear how much the gigabit-per-second service is going to cost per month.”

To refresh readers’ memories, here is what Harold DePriest, the president and CEO of Chattanooga’s Electric Power Board said when EPB launched its gigabit service: “We don’t know how to price a gig. We’re experimenting. We’ll learn.” Chattanooga eventually said it settled on $350 per month.

But that was not the end of the story – apparently EPB had more to learn.

As we reported earlier this fall, EPB is now charging small businesses that want the gig service $50,000. Subscribers can get the gig service for $350 per month, but they have to promise not to use the service to its full capacity.

If Bristol does not know how much it intends to sell the service for, how does it know it will actually have subscribers for it? After it learned the true price of the city’s service, one Chattanooga small business decided not to subscribe to the city-owned network and is now with a private broadband provider.

At the very least, Bristol taxpayers deserve a more complete business plan, that answers fundamental questions like pricing and estimated subscribership, before the city goes much further.