In Chattanooga, Tennessee residents browse at one gigabit per second – that’s 1000 megabytes per second. You can't get that because elsewhere in the US corporations control internet access, for their profit instead of the public good.
... while high-speed internet access may still seem out-of-reach for many Americans, down in Chattanooga, Tennessee it’s been a reality for a long time.
That’s because Chattanooga is home to “The Gig,” a taxpayer-owned, high-speed fiber-optic network.
According to The New York Times, back in 2009, Chattanooga received a $111 million stimulus grant from the federal government, which allowed that city to get “The Gig” up and running.
Maintained and operated by Chattanooga’s publicly-owned utility company EPB, “The Gig” allows Chattanooga’s residents to surf the web at lightning-fast speeds.
For less than $70 per month, residents browse the World Wide Web on a high-speed fiber-optic connection that shoots data back and forth at one gigabit per second – that’s 1000 megabytes per second. Where I live in Washington, D.C., you have to pay a lot just to get a 20 megabit-per-second connection.
As The New York Times points out, one gigabit-per-second is 50 times faster than the average internet speed for homes in the rest of the US, and is just as fast as internet service in Hong Kong, which has the fastest internet on the planet.
Someone in Chattanooga can download a full-length movie in high-definition in under 35 seconds.
In the rest of the country, downloading that movie would take around 25 minutes.
Lafayette, Louisiana and Bristol, Virginia also have rolled out publicly-owned high-speed networks.
So why are more and more cities copying the Chattanooga model, and putting control over the internet in the hands of the people?
Because they realize that the internet has become a natural monopoly in our country, just like water and electricity, and therefore should be in the hands of We The People, rather than in the hands of a for-profit corporation that just wants to squeeze money out of its users.
Today, Americans are paying hundreds of dollars to internet service providers like Comcast and Verizon, for so-called “high-speed” internet access that’s slower than much of the developed world.
In fact, the United States isn’t even in the top 25 when it comes to internet speeds. We come in at 31, behind countries like Bulgaria, Estonia, and Romania. [emphasis mine]
One gbps is screaming, all right ... but $70 a month is a bit steep for my blood. Best case speed we have right now is around 34 mbps download and about 5 mbps upload, and for most things (if not everything), that's just fine, thankuverymuch.
When Time Warner is ready to upgrade us without charging us an arm and a leg, I'd say terrific. For now, though, I think I have enough fiber in my diet!
Ahem, its 1024 megabytes per second.