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Say Hello to the Country's Fastest Residential Internet Plan -- in Chattanooga, Tennessee

Trey Paul Senior Editor
Trey Paul is a CNET senior editor covering broadband. His 20+ years of experience as a writer and editor include time at CNET's sister site, Allconnect, and working with clients like Yahoo!, Google, The New York Times and Choice Hotels. An avid movie fan, Trey's career also includes being a film and TV critic while pursuing a degree in New York.
Expertise Home internet and broadband, including plans, providers, internet speeds and connection types. Movies and film studies. Credentials
  • Master's degree in Cinema Studies from NYU and interviews with Conan O'Brien, Stan Lee and some of his biggest Star Trek childhood idols
Trey Paul
2 min read
Chattanooga skyline in the evening

Chattanooga has tech cred.  

Denis Tangney Jr./Getty Images

What's happening

Chattanooga telecom EPB is launching the first communitywide 25Gbps internet speed tier in the US.

Why it matters

Wow, we thought things were ramping up when AT&T and Ziply Fiber announced 5Gbps plans this year, and Xfinity bumped up its Gigabit Pro plan to 6Gbps. But this shows that the need (or desire, at least) for greater internet speed isn't about to wane.

EPB, a municipal utility in Chattanooga, Tennessee, that provides 100% fiber-optic internet service, has announced a 25 gigabit-per-second plan available to all residential and business customers, effective immediately. This is the fastest multi-gigabit broadband service available in the US. 

The 25,000Mbps plan, announced Aug. 24, features symmetrical download and upload speeds. That's five times faster than AT&T's highly touted "hypergig" plan and Ziply Fiber's speediest tier. It's more than four times faster than the Gigabit Pro plan from Xfinity. It's also available to all customers within EPB's 600-square-mile footprint -- a claim that AT&T, Xfinity and Ziply Fiber can't make about their fastest plans.

Chattanooga might still be most familiar as the city name-checked in the 1941 Glenn Miller Orchestra song Chattanooga Choo Choo. But in the tech industry, it's been known as "Gig City" for over 10 years. It was an early adopter of gig-speed internet, offering it communitywide back in 2010, and it was the first US city to have a residential, 10 gigabit-per-second plan, back in 2015.  

"We are once again breaking the typical approach for internet service providers by proactively upgrading to the latest technologies in anticipation of future needs," EPB Board Chair Vicky Gregg said in a press release. "Our goal is to enable new frontiers for technical innovation and job creation for our customers to the benefit of our whole community."

Of course, this raises the question: Do you really need all that speed? According to the most recent insights from OpenVault, the typical US household's average download speed is about 312Mbps. For most of us, upgrading to a gigabit tier would be a noticeable upgrade, let alone leveling up to a 25Gbps plan.

What kind of a dent will this zippy new plan put in your budget? An EPB spokesperson told CNET that the residential plan costs $1,500 per month (yes, that is correct) with no data caps and no term contracts. That's not exactly pocket change, but the spokesperson assured me that the price is expected to decrease over time as the market catches up.

While I was initially skeptical about that statement, a look at EPB's current prices backs up the assertion. EPB's gigabit plan (at $68 per month) is cheaper than comparable fiber gig plans from AT&T ($80), Frontier ($70), Google Fiber ($70), Optimum ($80) and Verizon Fios ($90). 

Similarly, the EPB 10Gbps plan, at $300 monthly, is the same price as Xfinity's 6Gbps tier, so customers get a better value from EPB.

EPB customers interested in the 25-gig plan do need new equipment to fully take advantage of its top-shelf capabilities. Though it could be connected to run on a subscriber's current hardware, you'd be unable to reach the maximum download and upload speeds. According to EPB, "Utilizing speeds this great requires professional-grade equipment."