Coalition Fights for Cities’ Right To Gigabit Internet Bandwidth
Gigabit speed may be what people expect for the modern Internet, but for many Americans the future (or even the present) isn’t here yet. Throughout a large swath of the United States, an antiquated broadband infrastructure keeps bandwidth well below an optimal online experience.
While relatively inexpensive bandwidth is plentiful across Asia and Europe, the US just isn’t there–not because of any specific technology limitation, experts maintain, but due to the lack of competition in the broadband market. A sub-par Internet connection puts a crimp in consumer experiences like streaming movies and surfing the Web, but it’s also highly restrictive to enterprises looking to tap into modern innovations like cloud-based IT services.
Change is in the air, however. Empowered by an FCC decision that cities can build their own broadband networks, a number of U.S. municipalities have come together in a joint mission to bring gigabit-speed Internet connections to their constituents. Called the Next Century Cities coalition, the group now numbers 101 cities and aims to deliver affordable, gigabit-level Internet as a way to attract new businesses and create new jobs while improving basic education and health services.
Faster Bandwidth Through Municipal Broadband
Next Century Cities bills itself as a bi-partisan initiative of mayors and city leaders. While it doesn’t build out the bandwidth infrastructure itself, it helps member cities champion the bandwidth cause to federal and state authorities and rustle up private investment. The coalition’s tools include strategies for urging federal policy reform, ways to encourage broadband-friendly municipal codes and guidelines for how to leverage philanthropy to fund broadband projects.
NCC’s core premise is that gigabit-level Internet is an essential building block for the 21st century community. When you look at the amount of data flowing back and forth across the Internet, at both a consumer and enterprise level, it’s hard to argue. A terabyte of data, which was unheard of back in the days of VDSL connectivity in the early 2000s, would take 43 hours to transmit at a speed of 52 Mbps. Today, that same terabyte of data, which is not all that uncommon even for smaller businesses, will take just 13 minutes with 10Gbps 10G-PON technology.
With companies looking for every edge over the competition, gigabit Internet isn’t a luxury, but rather a requirement for modern-day tools like cloud-based software and appliance-free data backup. We applaud efforts like the NCC’s to bring the tools of the future to more Americans.