The CBJ held their annual Global Charlotte event on June 10, and the primary focus of this year’s conference was Gigabit Internet. The event really got underway when a panel discussion, moderated by Dr. Cheryl Richards, Dean of Northeastern University – Charlotte, discussed the impact of Gigabit on a community. Dr. Richards got the crowd buzzing when she proposed a new marketing campaign slogan “Got Gig?” and positioned the all-women panel as "we put the broad in broadband." She’s quite the marketer!

Deb Socia of Next Century Cities was one of the panelists, and framed the opportunity in a similar way to when the nation switched from dial-up to broadband. We don’t know all the future applications. “What’s coming next, and are we ready?” she asked. Deb expressed the high priority that needs to be spent on Digital Inclusion and affordable broadband access. She praised the 5Mb free service offering from Google Fiber, but went on to say “just saying here’s access at a low price is not enough”. The community must reach out to the underserved in order to boost economic development. She shared that research has shown that Gigabit Internet service brings higher home values and lower joblessness. Deb also gave Charlotte Hearts Gigabit a nice shout-out in front of the sold-out event crowd. “Every community needs a cheerleader!” – thanks Deb!

Another panelist, Jill Szuchmacher from Google Fiber, said “Gigabit speeds are the next chapter of the Internet.” Jill said Google saw issues in last mile and wanted to do something about it.” She complimented Charlotte saying that we have done a tremendous job in leveraging Gigabit and our strong focus on Digital Inclusion. “You have to make sure everyone has access” Jill stated. It was great to hear Jill encourage more competition in the last mile. “North Carolina is a place where cities are building the capacity for ‘what’s next’.”

Jean Davis from MCNC was the other panelist. “Having high speed Internet is not an option at most businesses” Jean explained. “Sharing best practices is key for leveraging broadband.” Jean continued “Consider what having a Gigabit has done for Universities.” MCNC provides a state-wide communications network for our Universities.

The Broadband keynote speaker for the event was Blair Levin, executive director of Gig.U, and former Executive Director of the National Broadband Plan, and chief of staff to FCC chairman Reed Hundt. Mr. Levin expressed the economic benefit of high speed broadband networks. “Home prices increase with Gigabit Fiber” was one example Blair listed. He encouraged Charlotte to think about what we can do with world class broadband. Gigabit banking, the Civic Internet of Things, and Digital Inclusion were three areas Mr. Levin suggested we leverage. He also gave a shout-out to MCNC, saying “I think MCNC is a fantastic organization”. We’re sure this put a smile on Jean’s face!

Overall the event was terrific for everyone interested in how Charlotte can leverage Gigabit to improve the economic prospects for our region. Jen Wilson from the Charlotte Business Journal posted this story which includes 20+ pictures from the event, as well as an excellent series of Tweets from the event. Thank you CBJ for another great event!

((* 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.))

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