KNOXVILLE, Tenn. — The KUB Board of Commissioners approved a business plan Thursday to provide broadband services across its service area. It will now be sent to the Tennessee State Comptroller to be reviewed.
Officials said it is the first in many steps towards providing customers with internet access, phone service and television packages. They said that a municipal broadband system would be available for everyone who receives electricity services from the Knoxville Utilities Board.
The system would also be homegrown and responsive to the community's needs, officials said. They said that 76% of KUB customers were interested in broadband services, and that half of their customers would consider switching to their services.
Officials also said that a municipal broadband system would introduce more competition in the market, which could lower the rates of other companies in the area. As a result, customers who don't subscribe to KUB's broadband services would still benefit, according to a release from officials.
Around 60% of KUB customers only have one option for an internet service provider, according to a release.
KUB has already invested in fiber to support its electric system, so they would not be starting from scratch to build a broadband system. They said work could begin on the system as early as 2022 with a seven-year rollout.
They also said that it could bring around 200 new KUB jobs.
Chattanooga has a similar municipal broadband system, and officials said that it provided around $2.7 billion in economic benefits and a 40% improvement in electricity reliability and outage time.
The Tennessee State Comptroller has a 60-day review period for the plan, officials said.