Learn more about the Google fiber project
Learn more about the Google fiber project

Tell Google we want gigabit Internet in Austin!

Tell Google we want
gigabit Internet
in Austin!

Go to the ideas list!

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Here's an idea for gigabit Internet in Austin!


Broadband technology is critical to ECONOMIC DEVELOPMENT (tech leadership, productivity & innovation, workforce training, wages & jobs, and e-commerce), QUALITY OF LIFE (entertainment, education, culture, telework, telemedicine, and e-government), and NATIONAL SECURITY (continuity of service, crisis management, financial stability, social stability, self-reliance, diplomacy, and personal privacy & security). In short, our national future prosperity – and Austin’s future – depends on it.

Leading broadband nations share two main characteristics: an aggressive national broadband policy and true competition based on a separation of retail network services and wholesale network transport. Some also have subsidies. The US now ranks 16th (and falling) in broadband subscribers per capita, and it costs us 30 times more than in Japan or South Korea, on a price-performance basis. That’s a prime reason the US has lost its 60-year technology lead, falling in 2005 from #1 to #5.


I use railroads to contrast the growth of two large cities during the 1800s. Up until 1870, the main means of transportation was through rivers and canals, and that drove the economies of Chicago (on Lake Michigan) and St. Louis (on the Mississippi River). While St. Louis passed laws prohibiting railroad bridges over the river to protect precious waterways, Chicago embraced the railroads, and that made all the difference.


A more modern comparison is between sister-cities in Iowa – Cedar Falls and Waterloo. Cedar Falls was the smaller of the two, with a population of just 36,000, chose to install optical fiber. Waterloo was nearly twice as large, with a population of 68,000, but they chose to upgrade their cable system instead. After Cedar Falls installed fiber, new construction outpaced that of Waterloo and needed fewer taxes to fund that growth. Now Waterloo mayor John Roof is now a convert, saying “Fiber optics is the key to Waterloo’s future growth … I believe it has hurt us economically not to be able to provide fiber optics to businesses locating in our city.”

Posted: March 13, 2010: 5:45 PM