In covering the state of broadband internet access in the United States, we’ve been seeing pockets of incredible speed increases. Usually built on projects like Google Fiber, or communities coming together to fund their own fiber roll out paid for by taxes and grants.
Chattanooga Tennessee was the first city in the United States to offer up true gigabit fiber internet to consumers and businesses. Today they become the third city in America to offer a 10 Gigabit per second data speed, following Springfield Vermont and Salisbury North Carolina. None of these offerings are supplied by traditional cable or fiber providers like Comcast or Verizon.
It’s an incredible data rate to consider. At full speed, a 10Gbps connection is capable of moving 1.25 gigabytes of data per second. If you can find a source that will feed your download speed, even HD movies will arrive in seconds. That’s not an exaggeration, most movies on iTunes or Google Play are encoded at roughly 2GB per hour. A three hour film would be completely downloaded in around 5 seconds if iTunes could keep up with your download (which it likely couldn’t). A full quality film off of a Blu-Ray disc, with no compression, would arrive in under a minute.
And before I hear people complaining that this would be useful because individual services wouldn’t be able to feed it, you’d have enough bandwidth on tap to stream 4K video from several sources, while video calling to multiple devices all at the same time.
For content creators, this also represents a substantial improvement as the upload speed matches the download speed. Uploading high quality photos and increasingly larger videos becomes significantly easier with a faster pipe up.
By comparison, the fastest plan we have access to in Los Angeles is Time Warner’s 300Mbps download and 20Mbps upload for $70 a month. Chattanooga’s offerings are now thirty-three times faster downloading and a WHOPPING FIVE HUNDRED times faster uploading.
Chattanooga’s 10Gbps plan wont be cheap, and for folks wanting to step up to the fastest data rate in North America, they’ll pay $299 a month for the privilege. Still, considering it’s ten times faster than their single gigabit service priced at $79 a month, at least the “cost to improvement” ratio is firmly in the consumer’s favor.
Comcast has of course started rolling out faster speeds to customers in Chattanooga, unveiling a 2Gbps plan for $159 a month, or half the cost of the tax payer funded network, for one fifth the speed. Customers are also on the hook for paying installation fees, and they have to sign a contract.
It’s more evidence that the only way customers will see improvements to local broadband offerings is to force competition. All of the major ISP’s are scrambling in areas where Google Fiber and community funded networks are thriving. As many states have laws on the books preventing competition, communities and cities are putting more pressure on local lawmakers to find ways of preventing their areas from falling too far behind.