The United States still lags when it comes to fast internet services. It was supposed to be different: Google attempted to deftly shame major Internet Service Providers (ISPs) into updating their physical networks to 1 gigabit per-second speeds by providing Google Fiber to Kansas City, Missouri. Well, according to Wired‘s Klint Finely, those ISPs haven’t been shamed, and they’re not updating their services. Instead, one of the largest fiber providers in the U.S., Verizon, has stopped building its fiber network.
The reason for America’s fiber-sloth revolves around both money and investors, according to the report. Specifically, Finley writes, investors are wary of adapting fiber due to the initial cost of creating the network and a problem called “the last-mile,” which connects homes and businesses to the “backbone” of a service. Rather, ISPs like Verizon and AT&T are withdrawing from the fiber market to build their slower wireless networks, leaving consumers to the whims of cable providers for direct connection services.
But it’s not all bad news: Gigabit Squared, a company seeking to partner with local municipalities to implement fiber networks, has announced it’s entering into public/private partnerships with Seattle and Chicago to bring fiber to those cities. Its stated goal: to provide fiber connections for under $100 a month, which could push competitors, such as Comcast, to take the fiber plunge. While Google’s plan to shame its ISP partners into catching up didn’t work, Gigabit Squared’s might.
But what kind of benefit could come from a standard one-gigabit internet connection anyway? Well, as Finely suggests, it could help doctors efficiently communicate instructions — by high definition video — to patients who have a hard time getting to and back from the doctors office. But it’s isn’t hard to imagine a similar scenario if high-speed wireless takes off: video streaming over a network and a device like Google Glass, could help engineers at an office communicate with on-site laborers during a project, cutting down on gas and time.