EPB’s announcement of 1Gbps service was made possible because it operates its service over an entirely fiber optic network. Company officials, when asked why they were introducing such a fast service in Chattanooga, answered simply, “because we can.”

The same question should have been directed to the city’s other providers, Comcast and AT&T. Their answer would be “because we can’t… and won’t.”

Among large providers, only Verizon has the potential to deliver that level of service to its residential customers because it invested in fiber. It was also punished by Wall Street for those investments, repeatedly criticized for spending too much money chasing longer term revenue. Wall Street may have ultimately won that argument, because Verizon indefinitely suspended its FiOS expansion plans earlier this year, despite overwhelmingly positive reviews of the service.

So among these players, who are the real innovators?