CLBR Segment 1: The Gigabit City Challenge

David Sandel, founder of the Gigabit City Challenge, talks about the introduction of ultra-broadband technologies in Kansas City and elsewhere and whether we can meet FCC Chairman’s Genachowski challenge of a gigabit city in all 50 states by 2015.


(1) Chairman Genachowski’s Gigabit City Challenge

(2) The State of US Broadband: Getting Faster

(3)  Making the Case


Gangnam Bandwidth, American Style

– Blair Levin and Ellen Satterwhite, Gig. U

But we should not give up on American ingenuity; as Tom Friedman detailed in a recent New York Times op-ed, upgrading the broadband network in Chattanooga, Tenn., to world-leading gigabit speeds has transformed the community from a “slowing declining and deflating urban balloon” to the fastest growing city in Tennessee, attracting “a beehive of tech start-ups that all thrive on big data and super-high-speed internet.” That’s what Gangnam bandwidth can do in America.

That’s why a recent announcement about big bandwidth from Seattle is also big news. The city just announced a plan to bring gigabit service to a dozen of its neighborhoods. Over 100,000 Seattle residents, as well as health care and educational institutions, will have access to world-leading speeds. Not only is the scale of Seattle’s effort impressive, the path it took — smart policies involving rights of way management and dark fiber — can be replicated by other communities that wish to control their own bandwidth destiny.

As America’s National Broadband Plan concluded in 2010, our country needs a critical mass of communities with world-leading networks for us to continue to have the kind of environment that fosters the cutting edge innovations necessary to develop the next generation of world-leading broadband applications. Seattle is not alone in recognizing that bigger bandwidth is an economic development tool. Just as in decades past, when communities had to learn how to benefit from new modes of power or transportation — with electrical, train or air terminal facilities — so it is now with bandwidth. Officials in Kansas City, Kansas and Missouri worked with Google, offering streamlined processes and regulatory efficiencies. Mayor Emanuel in Chicago and Mayor Bloomberg in New York City have both recently launched initiatives to enhance their cities’ digital future. Thanks to efforts by their local leadership and a commitment to next generation networks, residents in Bristol, Virginia; Chattanooga, Tennessee; and Lafayette, Louisiana can already get gigabit speeds. And Gig. U, a consortium of universities and communities looking to accelerate next generation connectivity in their regions, has, in addition to the Seattle project, helped catalyze ultra-high speed broadband projects in the past few months: in Orono and Old Town, Maine; Cleveland, Ohio; Gainesville, Florida; East Lansing, Michigan and Champaign-Urbana, Illinois.

Ultra-Broadband Backgrounder

What the ultra-broadband economy will bring

Ultra-broadband networks will foster the creation of intelligent communities that will be better equipped from a social, economic and environmental aspect. These communities will be capable of greater collaboration between individuals, institutions and businesses. No longer constrained by affordability and quality of access issues, they will become breeding grounds for creativity and innovation.

The World Bank summarized the benefits in a 2009 report: “Widespread access to broadbandenables citizens, businesses, and governments to expand the scope of their economic and social activities. From a long-term economic growth perspective, broadband is a critical element in the global innovation and information economy, allowing countries to unlock their innovation and exports potential.”

A PricewaterhouseCoopers (PwC) report similarly concluded that the speed and quality of
broadband service is a critical element in attracting top talent and companies, driving innovation and creating real economic benefits. PwC believes broadband quality is a key indicator when measuring leading cities; the firm considers this factor when ranking its Cities of Opportunities.