In early 2013, following Google’s initial round of fiber announcements in Kansas City, then-chairman of the Federal Communication Commission Julius Genachoski called upon U.S. governments and businesses to put gigabit Internet in at least one city in each state by 2015. It was a bold digital call-to-arms, and while the country is far from nationwide gigabit access, the U.S. certainly seems to be moving in that direction, said The Verge. Gigabit Internet will be more widely available in 2015, and in many cases at cheaper prices than those available today. However, quite a few logistical hurdles stand in between the present and Genachoski’s ideal future. Read on to see if gigabit Internet could be coming to your town next year.
Small IPs take advantage of big name delays
Google, CenturyLink, Cox, Verizon and a slew of other giant cable and Internet providers have already begun their roll-out of fiber-optic cables, the wires that form the required infrastructure to support gigabit Internet. However, companies have been wary of investing too much cash in gigabit expansions before the market is ready to pay for it. Companies to be very selective about which cities they choose to develop to minimize early losses, but this strategy has also left several other cities ready for fiber but without a provider. Some companies, including AT&T, have even hinted at slowing down their gigabit rollouts in lieu of concerns about the outcome of the net neutrality debate.
According to The Washington Post, it is predicted that smaller gigabit companies will not compete directly with industry leaders, instead taking up shop in cities where major cable and Internet providers don’t intend to extend their reach. Given the slow rate of gigabit expansion by major companies, the number of smaller gigabit companies available in 2015 is likely to explode.
Municipal governments shrug off telecom resistance
Small and medium-sized carriers aren’t the only organizations getting into the local gigabit game. A long list of municipal governments are currently in the midst of developing their own gigabit infrastructures that make next-generation broadband speeds more universally accessible next year and beyond. Such projects were originally resisted by telecoms in a move to limit future competition.
The gigabit network in Chattanooga, Tenn. is notable both for being one of the first smart networks attached to a smart energy grid and for its ability to overcome multiple lawsuits courtesy of big name telecoms. Regulators ultimately dismissed these objections and set a precedent that had encouraged more municipal governments to pursue gigabit roll-outs of their own, according to The Motley Fool. Following the decision, communities like Chanute, Kan. and Bristol, Va. have began operating municipal operations of their own.
Public-private projects putting gigabit in the hands of the people
The skyrocketing demand for faster Internet speeds initially seemed to put government and business at odds, but recent cooperation between for-profit firms and local governments has paid dividends, in terms of gigabit Internet access, for citizens. For instance, a public-private partnership will install thousands of kiosks in New York City, turning The Big Apple into a giant gigabit hotspot, said the BBC. The first round of kiosks are set to go up and be operational in 2015. Likewise, the Connecticut Post reported that the entire state of Connecticut is participating in a set of public-private partnerships that will make gigabit available in nearly 50 communities statewide.