KNOXVILLE, Tenn. — The Knoxville City Council voted 8-0 to approve a plan Tuesday evening from the Knoxville Utilities Board that would provide fiber internet for all of their customers.
Andrew Roberto was the only member to abstain from the vote.
The plan will allow KUB customers to use a municipal broadband system, which will provide high-speed internet access, phone services and television packages. Officials said the system could be faster than internet access provided by private companies since it can use 100% symmetrical fiber.
At the meeting, many city leaders spoke about the importance of having reliable internet speeds in the current workplace and how it can help families. Representatives from Comcast and Xfinity claimed that their services already provide fast speeds which meet the needs of workers.
However, leaders said that some people may struggle to upload files and stay connected with the options they currently have. Since KUB's plan would use 100% symmetrical fiber and KUB plans to offer gigabit speeds, officials said that upload speeds should be capable of handling intensive use like teleconferencing or uploading large files.
By having upload speeds that match download speeds, people should also be able to teleconference with fewer issues and play online video games. Uploading a two-minute video can also take 8 seconds instead of 4 minutes.
"I think it's time we move forward in this new direction," said Tommy Smith, a council member. "Right now, it seems we're 10 years behind."
Comcast representatives spoke to council members during the meeting, saying that the KUB plan would involve public investment. Before the vote, they said they planned to expand their fiber at $22 million worth of private investment.
However, the costs of KUB's gigabit internet would be only $65 per month for customers, according to officials. They also specified that electric and broadband services would be billed separately. Failing to pay one would not impact service from the other, officials said.
KUB said it hopes to start seeing new internet customers by 2022. Officials said people will not be required to get municipal internet, even if they are already KUB customers.