The best of these [innovation] ecosystems will be cities and towns that combine a university, an educated populace, a dynamic business community and the fastest broadband connections on earth. These will be the job factories of the future. The countries that thrive will be those that build more of these towns that make possible “high-performance knowledge exchange and generation,” explains Blair Levin, who runs the Aspen Institute’s Gig.U project, a consortium of 37 university communities working to promote private investment in next-generation ecosystems.
America is focused too much on getting “average” bandwidth to the last 5 percent of the country in rural areas, rather than getting “ultra-high-speed” bandwidth to the top 5 percent, in university towns, who will invent the future. By the end of 2012, he adds, South Korea intends to connect every home in the country to the Internet at one gigabit per second. “That would be a tenfold increase from the already blazing national standard, and more than 200 times as fast as the average household setup in the United States.”
The critical questions for America today have to be how we deploy more ultra-high-speed networks and applications in university towns to invent more high-value-added services and manufactured goods and how we educate more workers to do these jobs — the only way we can maintain a middle class.
So for those watching U.S. broadband policy, between Google’s plans to deploy fiber to the home in both Kansas Cities, a few municipal networks, Verizon’s FiOS network and Sonic.net’s plans, we’re getting more people to a gigabit. It can be done, so let’s see what we can learn as these companies push ahead. And when others say it can’t be done, perhaps we’ll have the information that proves them wrong.
Sonic.net is already building out gigagit fiber in Sebastopol, California.
When it comes to building out infrastructure, from broadband to roads, someone, be it environmentalists or neighbors leery of the project’s components, are bound to raise a fuss. When it comes to better broadband, the cabinets holding the electronics raise the ire of residents who would rather not have refrigerator-sized boxes on their lawns. For example, residents of San Francisco have banded together to sue to stop AT&T’s planned U-verse deployment, which requires more than 700 cabinets to hold the electronics gear be placed around the city.
Jasper says because Sonic.net is deploying fiber to the home, he will use fewer cabinets (he estimates 188) but he’s still worried that San Franciscans will step up to hold up or halt his permits. ATT originally had received its permits, but those permits were halted by the court while this suit goes forward.
Jasper is worried that the suit could take another three to six months, and will hold up his deployment, but he’s hoping that fewer cabinets and a willingness to share Sonic.net’s infrastructure with other providers might make city residents view his cabinets with a bit more favor. After all, instead of building new cabinets, competitors interested in the market could share space in the existing boxes. Jasper understands that cabinets aren’t ideal, but he’s also hoping that if he plays it straight with the city, he can convince them that fiber-to-the-home is worth the potential of a couple hundred eyesores.
Sonic.net in the black while building out and selling fiber to the home to consumers for $70 a month.