Gigabit, city-wide networks, big data and the Internet of Things (IoT) -- components of the next-generation Internet economy -- will play a significant role in the way metro areas, and the individuals and businesses located there, conduct business in the coming decades.
The innovations that will propel what is being called the fourth industrial revolution represent hundreds of technology providers, thousands of jobs and trillions in investment and opportunity.
These were just some of the themes discussed at Tuesday night’s RIoT, the Regional Internet of Things community first launched in Raleigh that is now traveling the state to convene an ever-larger cohort of tech workers, enthusiasts, companies and investors.
One of Tuesday night’s speakers, Jeff Sural, director of the Broadband Infrastructure Office, discussed the state broadband plan released in June (download here). It announced North Carolina’s ambitious goal to be the first “gig-state” in the nation, making the case that networking communities from every corner of North Carolina with high-speed Internet is the most important economic development investment we could make as a state.
Here in the greater Charlotte region, lit up by fiber from Salisbury to Gaston County and in between, it is clear that we have all of the ingredients to grow and sustain a thriving “gigabit community.” Further, the Charlotte metro, together with the 21st century technology infrastructure of Triad and Triangle – and the industries it attracts -- could rival the San Jose / San Francisco corridor in leading the development of new technologies and companies, particularly in IoT.
Product and service application development made possible by gigabit infrastructure will deliver advances across industries, including regionally important sectors like financial services and healthcare. Addressing financial technology -- fintech -- at Tuesday’s event, Queen City FinTech founder Dan Roselli pointed out how IoT will simplify economic transactions and provide data leading to smarter financial decision-making.
Especially when approached regionally, gigabit infrastructure is an economic development opportunity on many levels, supporting existing businesses as well as the supply chain of that existing industry base targeted by economic developers.
With additional resources, gigabit assets become a tool to attract talent, entrepreneurs and technology companies that will in turn help revolutionize even those industries not typically thought of as “digital.” Agriculture, transportation, manufacturing, education, healthcare, pharmaceuticals – these industry sectors all have significant presence in North Carolina and will be profoundly impacted by IoT advances.
Community development -- including the important work around digital inclusion going on in greater Charlotte – will be another key ingredient.
A theme echoed by NC RIoT’s closing speaker, Jeff Jackson, state senator from Charlotte’s 37th district, was the idea that digital networks compel geographic and political collaboration, too. Gigabit is a catalyst for collaboration. Will our region use its new gigabit infrastructure to encourage cross-municipal collaboration as the fullest expression of the networked digital economy we live in now?
* 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.