A majority of individuals consider the Internet to be mandatory work tool that lets us conduct research, participate in video conferencing, share documents, send e-mails, and browse cat videos (only during breaks, of course). Currently there are three communities working to deploy wide-ranging networks at speeds of one gigabyte per second or over; they hope to improve economic development with these efforts.
What kind of speed does this represent? To get an idea, compare it with the current national average rate of between 5 and 6 megabits per second, and you will realize that the new speeds are 200 times faster. Economic development and business leaders in these three regions hope that, if regular internet is an exceptional business tool, than one-gigabyte access will be downright transformative.
One-gigabyte service has been available in Chattanooga, Tennessee since 2010. EPB (local utility company) installed the super-fast network while they were building a “smart grid,” an electricity-delivery system, which uses digital communication to enhance efficiency and reliability.
Thus, Chattanooga became the first city in the United States to offer businesses and residents access to one-gigabyte speed and has been aptly nicknamed “Gig City.” The city’s economy has already started to benefit from the system. New locations have been opened in the city by several firms including a green technology firm and a cloud computing company thereby generating several hundred new jobs.
College students and entrepreneurs were given the opportunity to develop innovative business ideas by employing the super-fast network at a combination competition and workshop called the “Gig Tank,” hosted by the city, during the summer. The competition was won by a start-up known as Banyan that enables collaboration between researchers and scientists through an application devised to accomplish the objective. The student winner was a voice translation application called Babel Sushi.
Kansas City, Kansas and Missouri
Google has chosen Kansas City to be the first city wired up with one-gigabyte service as part of the technology giant’s Google Fiber program. The network will deploy it in the neighborhoods (known as fiberhoods to Google), which demonstrated the most interest based on pre-registering for the service online. During the early stages, the project concentrates on providing television service and residential Internet, but small business options may be available, according to the Google Fiber blog. Google expects the system to spark innovation, provide students access to greater education, and provide the city with a competitive edge in attracting new businesses.
Cape Cod, Massachusetts
Southeastern Massachusetts will be inundated with the OpenCape system that will facilitate broadband at speeds in excess of one-gigabyte per second. The project is scheduled for completion in 2013 with projected cost being around $40 million; it is known as “middle-mile” systems that will not sell access directly to consumers. Several commercial enterprises and institutions will be able to connect to the system. Eventually, there will be companies that could pop up to resell and buy access to the network, which will provide competitive options for individual consumers. Business insiders mentioned that the network will help strengthen the economy in the tourism-dominated region by making it easier to start and grow medical practices, graphic design businesses, and technology companies.