It’s time for high-speed internet access for all!
This morning, President Obama spoke to a crowd at a middle school in Adelphi, Maryland about the importance of high-speed internet access for America’s students.
But 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.
But “The Gig” isn’t just good for downloading movies and shopping online. It’s good for business too.
Chattanooga officials say that “The Gig” has helped to create at least 1,000 jobs over the past three years.
And, internet-based businesses are moving to Chattanooga from high-profile cities like New York and San Francisco because of the lightning-fast internet speeds.
In the years since “The Gig” went live, other cities across the country have jumped on the publicly-owned internet bandwagon.
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.
Chattanooga has realized that natural monopolies like the internet function best when they’re run by We the People for the benefit of the people, rather than by a big corporation for the benefit of profits and stock-holders.
Somebody needs to tell the rest of America.
Lightning-fast internet speeds shouldn’t just be in Chattanooga, Tennessee; they should be everywhere in this country, urban and rural.
The internet was developed by universities and the military and brought into being by an act of Congress. It was never meant to be controlled by giant corporations.
It should be a public utility, run by and for We the People, not just another profit line on a giant corporate balance sheet.
Free the internet from corporate control!
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