If you aren’t on the list of cities Google is considering bringing into its fiber-optic cabal, you’re probably wondering if there are any alternatives. High-speed internet is a necessity for industry, education, innovation and so much more, yet most providers are willing to wait until demand reaches critical mass before they even consider upgrading their networks. That’s why some cities have decided to handle the situation themselves.
NPR has taken a look at a few cities that are looking to grow their Internet infrastructure on their own. College Station, Texas, home to Texas A&M, is only a short drive from several major metropolitan cities, but according to Exosent Engineering, it’s nearly impossible to find decent Internet outside of the college campus.
Exosent designs and builds tanker trucks for the oil industry, but still has to physically ship portable hard drives to clients because the company’s connection can’t handle huge file transfers. City councilman James Benham says that the city needs to “lump [connectivity] in with the critical infrastructure that we at least have an obligation to think about and plan for.”
Ted Smith, chief of economic growth and innovation for Louisville, Kentucky reportedly got hundreds of emails from citizens that were frustrated by their city’s no-show on Google’s latest list.
“We’ve certainly sent the bat signal up to the sky to let people know that we will be easy to do business with,” Smith says, although he admits that the city won’t be willing to pay for a fiber-optic network on its own.
Chattanooga, on the other hand, did take the time and resources to build its own network, something mayor Andy Berke claims is already bringing new business into the city. “Someone’s going to have to do this. And it makes sense that cities are going to lead the way,” said Berke.