'Thunder' Thornton creates ISP for Jasper Highlands, partnering - WRCBtv.com | Chattanooga News, Weather & Sports

'Thunder' Thornton creates ISP for Jasper Highlands, partnering with Alabama utility

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The residents of Jasper Highlands in Marion County will get their new internet connectivity from a newly-formed ISP.

Jasper Highlands owner and developer, John “Thunder” Thornton, has successfully launched gigabit-speed internet service for its residents and becoming its own internet service provider, Hi-Tech Data LLC.  

Thornton, was a proponent of the recently defeated municipal broadband expansion bill by state legislators in Nashville.

For Jasper Highlands, Thornton went across state lines to work and connect with North Alabama Electric Cooperative, with assistance from Tennessee-based Sequachee Valley Electric Cooperative. That effort will bring gigabit connectivity up 2,000 feet to Jasper Highlands’ mountaintop residents.  

North Alabama Electrical Cooperative brought their service some five miles to the AL/TN border, where Thorton was able to connect to their service.

Alabama is currently one of only 31 states whose legislation does not restrict municipal broadband expansion. Dark fiber is being leased from Sequachee Valley Electric Cooperative (SVEC) who has built an extensive fiber backbone across their service territory. 

“Over the past few years, I’ve had very little confidence in the majority of our state legislators supporting rural broadband expansion which, in essence, is stifling our children in getting a quality education and creating an unfair disadvantage for existing business growth along with our overall economic development efforts,” said Thornton, in a news release.

“I recently moved to Jasper Highlands from Florida and made a substantial investment in the development and Marion County by being a homeowner,” said Michael Cunningham, a newer resident of Jasper Highlands. “John Thornton completely understood the critical necessity of gigabit Internet service and had the fortitude to get it here.  Without the high speed service, which allows me to work remotely from my corporate headquarters in Bellevue, WA, it would not have been possible for me to make the move.”

Monthly rates for Hi-Tech Data’s services compare in price to EPB, the electricity distribution and telecommunications company owned by the city of Chattanooga at $69 for 100Mbps and $79 for 1 GB, which includes unlimited data.

Earlier this month, Thornton's development added a volunteer fire department to add protection to the mountaintop homes.

In 2013, Thornton faced road issues with Marion County regulations that required twice as much paving material for roads leading up to the development. 

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