Gigabit Is the New Black
It's a little jarring to go from regularly talking to, and writing about, the many entities that are deploying gigabit services to reading a report about how the state with the highest average Internet speed (Virginia) clocks in at a whopping 13.7 Mbit/s.
Those figures comes from the hosted voice and cloud services provider Broadview Networks Holdings Inc. , which compiled a list and a map of average Internet speeds by state, based on numbers it gleaned from Akamai Technologies Inc. (Nasdaq: AKAM)'s State of the Internet report.
The state-by-state averages in the report are pretty low, but in many cases the per-state year-on-year changes are fairly high. That indicates a couple things: that gigabit network rollouts around the country are starting to up the averages; and that there are still large underserved areas of the country dragging them down.
Interestingly, every state's average is above the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) 's current definition of broadband (4Mbit/s download speed and 1Mbit/s upload speed). The commission is currently seeking public comment on whether those thresholds should be increased.
The Gigabit Cities trend is increasingly prominent -- and, judging from the diverse group of entities building and operating gigabit networks (now numbering 55 and including service providers, utilities, municipalities and others), is very real. (See The Power of the Gig.)
But numbers like the ones the Broadview report cites beg the question of how much -- and how quickly -- the rollout of gigabit networks will change the overall state of broadband in the US, especially since many of them are limited to relatively small geographic areas.
So while it's foolish not to acknowledge the significance of the gigabit network trend, it's probably equally foolish not to be aggressively looking for other near-term solutions to the bigger challenge of reaching large underserved populations still thirsty for basic broadband.
Jason Meyers, Senior Editor, Utility Communications/IoT, Light Reading