Why Atlanta Needs Google Fiber Now

It has been 5 weeks since Google announced that Atlanta was one of the “New Cities” under consideration to receive Google Fiber. After the announcement on Feb 19, Netizens of Atlanta were ecstatic! But it seems the enthusiasm has quickly died down.

The Change.org petition “Google Fiber for Atanta 2014” shows only 164 lone supporters. The corresponding “Google Fiber for Atlanta 2014” Facebook page sports a paltry 252 “likes”. Just for comparison, the Root Canal page on Facebook has 6,510 “likes”. So perhaps we should briefly explain why superfast internet would be far more enjoyable for most Atlantans than a root canal.

Google Fiber offers “bandwidth” or internet speeds of 1000 megabits per second (1 gigabit) vs. the 6-10 megabits per second speed that most people in Atlanta get from AT&T or Comcast. Higher speeds are available from both companies in some limited areas for a higher price, but 6-10mb/s is about the average. So what does all of this Geekspeek mean to you?

Imagine traffic on the Downtown Connector Friday night before a Braves game at the Ted, Justin Bieber at Phillips and the Boat show at the World Congress Center. That angst inducing gridlock is basically a shortage of “bandwidth”. That same concept of bandwidth is why House of Cards on Netflix or that funny video on Youtube freezes sometimes when you try to watch it. Too many cars or “packets” in techie parlance are trying to travel an overcrowded road through the internet to your house. Now imagine on that same Friday night 100 more lanes magically appeared, leading you through Downtown to the places you wanted to go. That would be better right? This same idea is why more bandwidth is better. Google Fiber would increase the available bandwidth  – or lanes from the internet to your house – by 100 times.

With every passing day the things that we want and need to use on the Internet require more bandwidth. In our scenario above, movies, music, pictures and video conferencing are less like cars and more like 18-wheelers on the Connector (think Snow Jam 2014).  Comcast and AT&T are struggling to provide 1/10 of the speed that Google Fiber offers. Citizens of Kansas City, Missouri and Provo, Utah are already enjoying Google Fiber. According to internet site Ookla, the U.S. ranks 34th in the world for overall internet speed. We have less than half the speed of #1 ranked Hong Kong and even trail tiny Liechtenstein and The Republic of Moldova.

Besides Netflix and National Pride there are many other reasons why Atlanta needs better internet speed. Faster internet would make it easier and less expensive for companies to allow employees to work from home. Think of what broader acceptance of telecommuting by local businesses would mean for our traffic, air quality and for busy working parents. For similar reasons, broadband is a job creator as well. High speed internet is a magnet for large companies and start-ups alike.

Fast internet also insures that Atlanta can take advantage of important future technologies. Imagine receiving a medical diagnosis over the internet from the world’s foremost expert on your condition. Imagine our children’s schools being tied into leading universities. Picture a 3D vacation experience to an exotic location without ever leaving your couch. Hundreds of companies are working on all of these solutions at this very moment (Just moments ago Facebook announced the $2B purchase of Oculus Rift, a company that makes a Virtual Reality headset ). But all of these amazing solutions require lots of internet speed.

So, how can you show Google and the City of Atlanta that Google Fiber is important to you?

1) Visit www.google.com/fiber, click on “Check Address”, enter your address, then enter your e-mail for updates.

2) Contact the Mayors Office at 404.330.6100 or e-mail communications@atlantaga.gov you can also contact Mayor Reed @kasimreed on twitter

3) Sign the petition at http://www.change.org/organizations/google_fiber_for_atlanta_2014

4) Share this article or others about Google Fiber through your favorite social media

5) Tell all of your ATL friends and neighbors to do all of the above as well

Hopefully with your help, we can secure for our city what is quickly becoming one of the most valuable resources of the 21th century.