We just returned from Light Reading's first Gigabit Cities Live event in Atlanta and were blown away by the excitement over Gigabit Internet! Attendees came from all over the country. Some cities already have Gigabit Internet, others like Charlotte are waiting for ISP deployments, and yet others are still trying to get an ISP interested in building in their city.
The conference had two tracks - 1) network infrastructure and 2) economic development.
ISPs Comcast and Cox gave keynote presentations highlighting their intentions to expand services to Gigabit and beyond. Several Gigabit wireless equipment providers were also in attendance, including Mimosa and Ruckus. In the vendor area we had the opportunity to try out gigabit apps with Orange Telecom - their demos were amazing! Online gaming, immersive virtual reality applications, and Kubi, the telepresence robot were some of the highlights. ((* Note: In order to achieve gigabit internet speeds you need to have a computer, modem, and AC wi-fi router that support the speed. We recently purchased a gigabit wif-fi router for less than $100 (TP-LINK Archer C7 AC1750 Wireless Dual Band Gigabit Router) and have been pleased with the results.))
Two of my favorite panels were the Gigabit City CTO/CIO roundtable (Seattle and Atlanta) and The Role of Gigabit Ecosystem Development for Innovation panel (with US Ignite, ThinkBigKC, Cisco, and Orange Telecom). Both panels did a terrific job in describing how the future will look. As Herb Sih from ThinkBigKC put it the conversation has changed from "Do we need it?" to "What's Possible?"
DC74 Data Centers COO (and CHG co-founder) Alan Fitzpatrick spoke on a panel on Economic Development, along with Aaron Deacon of KCDigitalDrive and Matt Dosch from Corporium. We discussed how Gigabit infrastructure can be used to enable innovation districts, create new jobs, and create new applications. We also spoke about Digital Inclusion and citizen centric services to improve digital literacy. The City of Charlotte is very active in this area (along with Queens University). CHG participates on the city's digital inclusion steering committee.
Tracking quantitative measurements of the impact of Gigabit infrastructure is key. In the end of the day Gigabit is a speed, not a solution. The term Gigabit may lose its influence over time, but the economic impact will last for a very long time. Our North Carolina neighbors at North State stopped by to discuss how we can work together to promote economic development within the state. This lead me to proclaim on the stage: