Erwin, population 6,000, is planning a pilot project to bring fiber to downtown homes and businesses, reports local media. The project may be lit by November, serving approximately 1,200 premises.
According to the Johnson City Press, Erwin Utilities has already developed a plan to offer Internet and phone service:
The network would offer customers high-speed broadband Internet and telephone services. [Erwin Utilities General Manager Lee] Brown said the project would offer initial Internet of 100 Mbps with the future potential of providing up to 1 Gbps. Brown said a service such as the one Erwin Utilities intends to offer is typically only available in large metropolitan areas.
“Our beginning package is basically the equivalent of what the fastest speed available is currently,” he said.
Erwin Utilities will use the infrastructure for electric system demand response, meter reading, outage reporting, improved communications and operations of electric, wastewater and water equipment, and future load management. If customers are happy with the service in the pilot project area, Erwin Utilities hopes to deploy the technology throughout its entire service area.
Brown told the Press that the municipal utility began investigating the possibility of municipal broadband about 15 years ago, but until now the community could not afford the investment. Costs have gone down bringing the project to approximately $925,000.
The Erwin Utilities Board approved the plan but the Tennessee Comptroller needs to review it. Next the community will hold a public hearing then on to final approval by the Board of Mayor and Alderman.