The Gallery: What Good is a Gig?

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With the recent launch of Google Fiber in Kansas City and the announcements of future deployments in Austin, Provo and Grandview, gigabit connectivity is back in the headlines; however, even with this increased level of attention, the majority of Americans still don’t seem to understand the immediate value of ultra high-speed broadband.

Critics boil this key advancement down to superficial uses like the speedy downloads of full-length movies, but gigabit connectivity is about far more than that.

Gigabit networks are proving crucial to communities and institutions around the world and right here at home, we’re seeing its value firsthand.

1) Business Development and Job Growth: Gigabit connectivity is inspiring and initiating America’s small business growth, especially in the field of startups. In Kansas City’s “Startup Village,” new startups are living and working together in “fiberhoods,” allowing founders to hold videoconferences with potential VCs.

Chattanooga, Tennessee is also recruiting startups to take advantage of their “Gig Tank,” a startup accelerator that offers entrepreneurs upload and download speeds 200 times faster than the national average. But, beyond startups, Chattanooga’s gigabit network has resulted in significant job growth throughout the city with companies like Volkswagen and setting up shop in the once struggling metropolis. So far, Chattanooga has seen over 3,700 new jobs come to the city in the past 3 years, due in large part to its investment in broadband infrastructure.

Fiberhoods: Build it and they will come.

2) Education and Research: Ultra high-speed networks bring teachers, speakers, and leaders from anywhere in the world into the classroom. The growth of online courses, traditionally a one-way transfer of knowledge from teacher to student, is becoming a virtual environment in which ideas flows freely. Gigabit connectivity is also improving research processes. The state of Ohio recently invested in upgrading OARnet’s statewide network, increasing its capacity from 10 Gbps to 100 Gbps. The network’s enhanced capability will put the state’s medical research facilities on the cutting edge of medical innovation and information sharing, ensuring better collaboration among institutions and ultimately greater advancements in healthcare.

3) Medicine and Healthcare: Thanks to gigabit connectivity, we are taking medicine and health treatments to the next level. The ultra-fast connection surrounding the Case Western Reserve University campus has resulted in significant healthcare benefits to the people of Cleveland. With roughly one-third of Cleveland’s female population living with diabetes, in-home care via 1080p video and doctor feedback mechanisms have proved vital to their medical care. This network is also imperative to Case Western’s use of its “Surgical Theater” surgery simulator, which helps surgeons practice complicated brain surgeries prior to actual procedures.

4) Public Safety: Gigabit connectivity ensures that our public safety officers are equipped with a reliable and robust communication infrastructure to respond to any situation. Chattanooga has utilized its gigabit network to upgrade its public safety network, equipping each police car with the ability to receive high-speed mobile Internet access. Police officers are now able to stream live video from squad car cameras and security cameras placed throughout the city, or remotely turn on city streetlights from the car. The network also allows for the usage of a 3D scanning system that can create a 3D model of a crime scene within minutes, saving police vital time when securing and documenting a crime scene.

5) Entertainment and Media: With ultra-high speed connectivity, we are moving to a new era of entertainment. We can watch a movie on Netflix while downloading a new web application and not encounter any hiccups in speed. Your Star Wars collection or my compilation of Beatles albums will be safe in the cloud, with almost zero buffer time. No longer will you have to yell, curse, and pound your fist on the table because the last House of Cards episode dropped its connection, right at the cliffhanger.

The journey to gigabit connectivity is already underway – with more and more communities realizing the benefits and demanding the infrastructure to drive innovation. To catalyze the growth of fiber-networked neighborhoods, the Fiber to the Home (FTTH) Council is bringing together public officials, citizens, private businesses, and industry members at our special conference, “From Gigabit Envy to Gigabit Deployed,” in Kansas City, May 29-30th. With a united effort, a robust fiber infrastructure can be built across the United States, creating a global environment in which our ideas and innovation will be free to flourish.

Come join the revolution.

Heather Burnett Gold is the President of the Fiber to the Home Council Americas – a non-profit association consisting of companies and organizations that deliver video, Internet and/or voice services over high-bandwidth, next-generation, direct fiber optic connections – as well as those involved in planning and building FTTH networks.

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