Businesses and residents of Chattanooga, Tennessee, enjoy faster Internet than any other city in the country thanks to the Gig, its tax-payer funded fiber-optics network. Observers say the uptick in business since the utility was completed is palpable. “Former factory buildings on Main Street and Warehouse Row on Market Street have been converted to loft apartments, open-space offices, restaurants and shops. The city has welcomed a new population of computer programmers, entrepreneurs and investors. Lengthy sideburns and scruffy hipster beards — not the norm in eastern Tennessee — are de rigueur for the under-30 set.”
What’s the Big Idea?
The singular nature of Chattanooga’s efforts undermine the potential of a country-wide high-speed Internet network. While critics are content with low-bandwith connections, the possibilities for new technological development that a high-speed connection could facilitate remain unrealized. “The potential will only be capped by our selfishness”, said Miller Welborn, a partner at business incubator in Chattanooga. “The Gig is not fully useful to Chattanooga unless a hundred other cities are doing the same thing. To date, the best thing it’s done for us is it put us on the map.”