Friday, September 19, 2014

Everything works better with a network

A new study has found that cities with super fast internet - that's gigabit speed - are more productive. The study seems to have done a fair job of ruling out other factors and found that on average, cities with gigabit speeds had an increase of about 1.1 percent annual GDP per capita. That doesn't seem like a lot, but it compounds nicely over time and it makes a big difference when compared to cities without the same access to the internet.

This parallels nicely with comments made by Tom Wheeler, chairman of the FCC:
Chattanooga’s proximity to the Tennessee River – a natural network – fueled its initial growth. When the railroad network arrived in the mid-19th century, Chattanooga became a boom town. The railroad allowed raw material to flow into the area and finished products to flow out to markets around the country – making Chattanooga an industrial powerhouse.
Chattanooga is home to one of the first gigabit networks in the country, providing super fast internet access to every home and business within the service area of the EPB of Tennessee. The EPB offers internet access at speeds 100 times the national average speed of 10 mbs. The EPB offered gigabit service even before Google Fiber did - by two years.

Networks are everywhere. They are the most efficient way to distribute anything. There is no other way to do it until we have teleportation, and even then, we will need a network.

Everything in life uses networks. Plants, trees, rivers, the veins in your hand - they are all networks. The speed of the network can determine outcomes. The complexity of the network can determine capacity. One estimate holds that there are 100 trillion connections between cells in the human brain, a very fast, very efficient thinking machine. The internet is developing connections like that.

It takes community networks to make this happen. Why? Because private internet service providers like Comcast, AT&T, Time-Warner and Verizon would rather put shareholders and executives first before customers. Because these same companies were able to secure enough trust from the communities they serve to get a private monopoly, then they betrayed that trust by denying better service or any service at all, or playing favorites.

Community networks do not carry the baggage of corporate loyalties like the incumbents do. Their first priority is customer service to deliver and maintain high speed internet access. They do not have to answer to shareholders or executives. They must answer to voters and city councils. Without that baggage, community networks can deliver a superior connection at a better price than the unelected incumbent service providers.

Cable is a dying industry that picks favorites and leaves everyone else out to hang. The phone companies? They're tacitly conceding territory to cable in exchange for peace with cable. Let's move along and forget them. Let's build the network that serves everyone in every home and business. Community broadband is not the utility of the future. It the utility we need now.
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