The Ford Foundation’s goals are to strengthen democratic values, reduce poverty and injustice, promote international cooperation and advance human achievement. And they think Chattanooga, with its EPB fiber optics network and Lamp Post’s innovative approach to startups, is one of the beacons for progress, so much so that they have highlighted both in their recent annual report:
“EPB Fiber Optics is part of EPB, an agency of the City of Chattanooga founded in 1935 to provide electricity to the region. EPB now serves metropolitan Chattanooga, Hamilton County, and surrounding areas of Tennessee and northern Georgia. In 2000, EPB established EPB Telecom (now EPB Fiber Optics) and began offering communications services to its business customers; over the next few years, EPB Telecom expanded to include Internet services and a fiber optic system.
In 2007, EPB developed a plan to offer fiber-to-the-home (FTTH) services to all customers; the plan was approved unanimously by the City council with strong public support. In 2008, EPB secured a bond to begin construction of the fiber network for a smart grid, which will increase the efficiency and reliability of the electrical system and, as a secondary benefit, carry broadband services.
EPB offers all customers—business and residential, urban and rural—the fastest Internet, television, and phone service available, a source of great community pride. Recently, for example, a group of local entrepreneurs created a summer internship program, Lamp Post Lab, to attract college students to Chattanooga to answer the question, “What do you do with the fastest Internet connection in the world?”