Imagine if Borders and Barnes & Noble, claiming it was killing their book sales, asked lawmakers to ban cities from building libraries. The legislators would laugh them out of the State House. Yet the same thing is happening right now with respect to Wi-Fi and other municipal broadband plans, and it is being taken all too seriously. In fact, although it is almost universally acknowledged that broadband access is essential to economic growth and education, phone and cable companies are lobbying furiously to prohibit municipalities from providing free or discounted broadband to their residents.
New Yorkers Envious of Lafayette and Chattanooga? Yes.
In a recent New York Daily New article, Scott Stringer wrote about the Big Apple's tech employment trends. He noted that more tech related positions now come to the city but those jobs still tend to elude women and people of color. He suggests looking at New York's own workforce and offering better science and technology training. How do they do that? Improve curriculum, of course, but:
Ultimately, the new workforce is only as strong as the infrastructure that supports it. Today, fast, reliable Internet access isn’t a luxury — it is a core utility of the modern age.
Stringer notes the antiquated copper throughout the city and looks south for a model:
Lafayette, La., constructed a municipal fiber network in 2005, linking fiber to every home and business. In Chattanooga, Tenn., the city worked with the public electric company to build a fiber network that not only helped modernize the energy grid, but also linked 150,000 homes and businesses to a gigabit connection that is 20 times faster than connections in much of New York City.
London-based Foreign Direct Investment recently recognized Lafayette as one of the top 10 Small American Cities of the Future, in part due to its fiber infrastructure. Chattanooga has received multiple recognitions for it innovative municipal network.