Over 100 cities around the US have band together to work towards developing publicly-funded high speed internet – A DC suburb and The Star City
Over 100 cities around the US have band together to work towards developing publicly-funded high speed internet – A DC suburb and The Star City are on the list, but not RVA.
“The city’s leadership has recognized the power of a gigabit broadband community and how the broadband can help educate our residents, increase business productivity and allow government to act more efficiently,” said Alexandria Mayor William D. Euille about why he threw his support behind bringing higher-speed internet to his citizens.
Already recognized as a Top 10 Digital City, Alexandria joins Roanoke in the Next Century Cities project which hopes to bring lightning fast internet to more people.
What is 1 gig/mbs internet and why is it important for cities to have it?
“fast, reliable, and affordable Internet – at globally competitive speeds – is no longer optional. Residents, schools, libraries, and businesses require next-generation connectivity to succeed,” reads the nationwide project’s website. Since the FCC voted to allow localities to invest in broadband internet, the push for faster and cheaper web access has become paramount to communities who wish to compete in the coming years.
For context, Richmond currently has down 40 mb/s and upload 18 mb/s speeds – 1 gb/s speeds are about more than 20 times faster.
Still not sure what I’m talking about? Here’s a visual aid:
A story from the Wall Street Journal explains some of the background on this issue, including private internet providers attempts to limit cities in search of faster internet:
Towns that explore the option generally do so because they believe private sector development of broadband hasn’t kept pace with their needs. FCC Chairman Tom Wheeler, above, and President Barack Obama have said towns need to be free to build their own networks if they decide it makes sense.
Telecom and cable companies, meanwhile, have objected to the use of government funds to compete with private business. The cost of building broadband networks to businesses and homes is high, and the laws help protect those investments by ensuring they don’t face competitors that have an unfair advantage, they say.
“Some states have designed thickets of red tape designed to limit competition,” Chairman Wheeler said. “We are cutting away that red tape consistent with Congress’s instructions to encourage the deployment of broadband.”
So what does this mean to us in RVA? Not much, sadly, unless we want to move north or way out west. But that’s kind of the point of a project like this – Cities like Alexandria and Roanoke are investing in public internet realizing if they want high-tech, high-paying jobs to come to their towns, they need the infrastructure to support it and they’re willing to spend the money and resources to make it happen.
Many of these programs started in traditionally conservative states – Tennessee lawmakers wanted to provide internet to rural constituents and AT&T wouldn’t pay for it so their state government stepped in. Now fiscal conservatives are surprisingly at odds with telecom companies over issues like this.
“This is part of a continued focus on the support of a sound infrastructure with targeted investments,” said Roanoke Mayor David A. Bowers. The Roanoke Valley Broadband Authority is in the process of engineering and constructing a 46 mile fiber optic network in the Valley that will serve business parks, large institutions, government facilities, and businesses and so far people seem pretty happy with the work being done.
“The future development of broadband service will further propel the City of Roanoke forward as a regional leader and an attractive place for new business,” said Bowers. “As the area continues to experience growth in the technology and health care sectors.”
So what’s up RVA’s creative/tech class – who’s fighting for faster internet here in Richmond?