Slow Internet speeds, dismal customer service, and patchy service areas are a fact of life for most Americans online today. But with the FCC’s recent net neutrality ruling and competitors pushing up on monopolistic ISP businesses, a more reliable, faster, and affordable internet connection is coming by way of the “gig.”
Gigabit fiber, which uses glass to transmit data as instant pulses of light instead of signals over a copper cable, is the next generation Internet network. Nearly every advance in bandwidth speed has ushered in new innovations and capabilities. Dial-up Internet brought the world emailing and web browsing. Broadband gave us streaming services like YouTube and Netflix. Faster wireless speeds enabled social networking and a marketplace of smartphone apps. Gigabit is the next iteration on the horizon.
But super-fast fiber optic Internet service isn’t just about entertainment and gaming. It’ll be the backbone behind a digital ecosystem we’re already starting to live in: connected devices and the internet of things, real time health monitoring, personalized retail experiences, video conferencing, everything from MOOCs to Oculus Rift can benefit from the gig.
TechKnow visited Chattanooga, Tennessee, one of the nation’s first test beds for the gig, to find out how lightning quick it’s Internet speed is.
Wicked fast downloads
A gigabit connection can deliver 1,000 megabits of information per second (Mbps). That’s about 50 times faster than the national average. Gigabit speeds means faster download and upload speeds for data transfers and smoother video streaming. This means Chattanooga residents can download a high-resolution movie to their laptops and it won’t take as long as the movie’s running time to view it.
TechKnow contributor Kosta Grammatis visited the Chattanooga STEM School, a magnet high school on the campus of Chattanooga State Community College, to see how gigabit connectivity is helping power K-12 education. At the Fab Lab, students were able to remotely control a 4K microscope located 1,800 miles away at USC’s School of Cinematic Arts. This is all thanks to the GENI rack, a supercomputing center housed at the University of Tennessee Chattanooga that can connect the gigabit Internet services to Chattanooga homes and businesses.
Imagine seeing a 3-D printed model of your heart before an upcoming surgery. Your doctor can walk you through the procedure and do presurgical planning on your heart before actually operating on it. It’s a game changer for the medical community, thanks to Chattanooga start-up 3D Ops. Gigabit speeds enable 3D Ops to quickly convert MRI and CT scans into personable medical replicas printed via 3D printers. It’s an incredible non-invasive way for physicians to map out an entire surgery even before the patient arrives.