Charlotte was among the first cities in the country to be selected for Google Fiber’s gigabit internet service. While the construction period is lengthy and we’re still waiting for service, there was an immediate benefit for our citizens - the other ISPs began improving their infrastructure and internet speeds.
AT&T rolled out their own gigabit internet service, GigaPower, to selected areas in Charlotte and surrounding communities (including Gastonia). Charter (formerly TWC) increased their speeds to all users free of charge. While not gigabit speed, they offer a 300Mb download, 20Mb upload service which is much faster than their previous offerings. Windstream recently announced gigabit speeds to 7 local communities (including Matthews, Concord, and Davidson), although availability is limited right now. South of Charlotte, Comporium is making gigabit speeds available to 30,000 residents in Ft. Mill and Rock Hill. Northeast of Charlotte lies Salisbury, home of the municipal network Fibrant, which offers 1Gb and 10Gb speeds throughout the city. Recently Fibrant was asked to expand into Rowan Co. to meet the needs of new businesses. In order to achieve the high speeds you will need to make sure your computer, modem, and wi-fi router support gigabit speed. We recently had to purchase a new AC wif-fi touter (TP-LINK Archer C7 AC1750 Wireless Dual Band Gigabit Router) to get the faster speed.
Is gigabit speed available everywhere in the Charlotte region? Unfortunately not. If you live in Waxhaw/Marvin – keep waiting. Indian Trail - keep waiting. It takes a lot of time and money to deploy the gigabit infrastructure, and it can’t come fast enough for many of us. One of the best things we can do is show our demand for the service. Google Fiber and AT&T have web pages to check availability and to express interest.
Charlotte has a golden opportunity to leverage the gigabit infrastructure for entrepreneurship, Smart City applications, telemedicine applications, advanced online education applications, big data analytics applications, always-on video applications, and much more. Gigabit infrastructure positions Charlotte to be a leading city in the new economy, which Google recognized when they named Charlotte as their eCity for North Carolina in 2015. Startup incubators at HQ Charlotte and Industry Coworking already have Gigabit connectivity. Gaston Co. is working on a new innovation center, GigWorks, which will include gigabit internet speed.
Our region is fortunate to have so many ISPs investing in the internet infrastructure, and it’s up to us to determine what we do with it. We have an opportunity to use the infrastructure for increased community collaboration, for attracting talent to our region, and for fostering entrepreneurship.
Digital Inclusion is a critical element to ensure no segments of our community are left out of the opportunities that a gigabit infrastructure presents. The City of Charlotte and Queens University lead a Digital Inclusion Steering Committee made up of key community leaders from many areas of the community, including CMS, CMLibrary, EveryoneOn, Media Democracy Fund, Urban League, Goodwill, and E2D. Charlotte was also granted funding from NTEN and Google Fiber for 2 Fellow positions which focus on relevancy and digital literacy education. From low cost computers, to low cost access, to education, the Digital Inclusion efforts are making an impact.
Let’s all work to make Charlotte the crown jewel of gigabit internet cities. For more information visit http://charlotteheartsgigabit.com.