AT&T recently announced it has upgraded two mobile Internet cell sites on Hilton Head Island and in Beaufort to expand its 4G LTE coverage.
AT&T launched its 4G LTE network in the Hilton Head area in March 2013. The new cell sites are meant to help “drive investment and innovation to deliver” better mobile and Internet service, according to an AT&T news release.
The company says its technology promises data speeds 10 times faster than 3G networks.
“AT&T’s investment in Hilton Head and Beaufort will provide increased access to mobile technologies, which will help improve our business climate, both for residents and visitors to the area,” state Sen. Tom Davis, R-Beaufort, said in the release.
Here is the four year history of the data usage on the AT&T network in the hours leading up to the Super Bowl for each of the last four years. It also shows the number of posts to social media. This is the type of growth that has been predicted in all uses of the wireless networks.
CHATTANOOGA, Tenn. — For thousands of years, Native Americans used the river banks here to cross a gap in the Appalachian Mountains, and trains sped through during the Civil War to connect the eastern and western parts of the Confederacy. In the 21st century, it is the Internet that passes through Chattanooga, and at lightning speed.
“Gig City,” as Chattanooga is sometimes called, has what city officials and analysts say was the first and fastest — and now one of the least expensive — high-speed Internet services in the United States. For less than $70 a month, consumers enjoy an ultrahigh-speed fiber-optic connection that transfers data at one gigabit per second. That is 50 times the average speed for homes in the rest of the country, and just as rapid as service in Hong Kong, which has the fastest Internet in the world.
It takes 33 seconds to download a two-hour, high-definition movie in Chattanooga, compared with 25 minutes for those with an average high-speed broadband connection in the rest of the country. Movie downloading, however, may be the network’s least important benefit.
“It created a catalytic moment here,” said Sheldon Grizzle, the founder of the Company Lab, which helps start-ups refine their ideas and bring their products to market. “The Gig,” as the taxpayer-owned, fiber-optic network is known, “allowed us to attract capital and talent into this community that never would have been here otherwise.”
Since the fiber-optic network switched on four years ago, the signs of growth in Chattanooga are unmistakable. Former factory buildings on Main Street and Warehouse Row on Market Street have been converted to loft apartments, open-space offices, restaurants and shops. The city has welcomed a new population of computer programmers, entrepreneurs and investors. Lengthy sideburns and scruffy hipster beards — not the norm in eastern Tennessee — are de rigueur for the under-30 set.
“This is a small city that I had never heard of,” said Toni Gemayel, a Florida native who moved his software start-up, Banyan, from Tampa to Chattanooga because of the Internet speed. “It beat Seattle, New York, San Francisco in building the Gig. People here are thinking big.”
But so far, it is unclear statistically how much the superfast network has contributed to economic activity in Chattanooga over all. Although city officials said the Gig created about 1,000 jobs in the last three years, the Department of Labor reported that Chattanooga still had a net loss of 3,000 jobs in that period, mostly in government, construction and finance.
EPB, the city-owned utility formerly named Electric Power Board of Chattanooga, said that only about 3,640 residences, or 7.5 percent of its Internet-service subscribers, are signed up for the Gigabit service offered over the fiber-optic network. Roughly 55 businesses also subscribe. The rest of EPB’s customers subscribe to a (relatively) slower service offered on the network of 100 megabits per second, which is still faster than many other places in the country.
Some specialists say the low subscriber and employment numbers are not surprising or significant, at least in the short term. “The search for statistical validation of these projects is not going to turn up anything meaningful,” said Blair Levin, executive director of Gig.U, a high-speed Internet project that includes more than three dozen American research universities. Mr. Levin cited “Solow’s paradox,” the 1987 observation by Robert M. Solow, a recipient of the Nobel in economic science who wrote that “you can see the computer age everywhere but in the productivity statistics.”
Such is the case with many new technologies, Mr. Levin said. No one is going to design products that can run only on a one-gigabit-per-second network if no such networks exist, he said. But put a few in place, he added, and soon the supply of applications will drive a growing demand for the faster connections.
Chattanooga’s path to Gig City is part of a transformation that began long before most Americans knew the Internet existed. Named America’s most-polluted city in 1969 because of largely unregulated base of heavy manufacturing, Chattanooga has in the last two decades cleaned its air, rebuilt its waterfront, added an aquarium and become a hub for the arts in eastern Tennessee. In more recent years, an aggressive high-tech economic development plan and an upgrade of the power grid by EPB moved Chattanooga toward the one-gigabit connection.
In 2009, a $111 million federal stimulus grant offered the opportunity to expedite construction of a long-planned fiber-optic network, said David Wade, chief operating officer for the power company. (EPB also had to borrow $219 million of the network’s $330 million cost.) Mr. Wade said it quickly became apparent that customers would be willing to pay for the one-gigabit connection offered over the network.
Chattanooga has been joined in recent years by a handful of other American cities that have experimented with municipally owned fiber-optic networks that offer the fastest Internet connections. Lafayette, La., and Bristol, Va., have also built gigabit networks. Google is building privately owned fiber systems in Kansas City, Kan.; Kansas City, Mo.; and Austin, Tex., and it recently bought a dormant fiber network in Provo, Utah.
The systems are the leading edge of a push for ever-faster Internet and telecommunications infrastructure in a country that badly lags much of the world in the speed and costs of Web connections. Telecommunications specialists say that if the United States does not keep its networks advancing with those in the rest of the world, innovation, business, education and a host of other pursuits could suffer.
Even so, few people, including many who support the systems, argue that everyone in the country now needs a one-gigabit home connection. Much of the public seems to agree. According to Federal Communications Commission statistics, of the households where service of at least 100 megabits per second was available (one-tenth as fast as a gigabit), only 0.12 percent subscribed at the end of 2012. In Chattanooga, one-third of the households and businesses that get electric power from EPB also subscribe to Internet service of at least 100 megabits.
But just as few people a decade ago thought there would be any need for one terabyte of data storage on a desktop computer (more than 200 million pages of text, or more than 200 movies), even the most prescient technology gurus have often underestimated the hunger for computer speed and memory.
Fiber-optic networks carry another benefit, which is the unlikelihood that a potentially faster network will come along soon. Fiber optics can transmit data at close to the speed of light, and EPB officials say the technology exists for their network to carry up to 80 connections of 10 gigabits per second at once.
Those who use Chattanooga’s one-gigabit connection are enthusiastic. Mr. Gemayel, the Florida native who moved Banyan here from Tampa, first passed through Chattanooga in 2012, when he heard about an entrepreneurial contest sponsored by The Company Lab with a $100,000 prize. Banyan, which was working on a way to share real-time editing in huge data files quickly among far-flung researchers, won the contest. Mr. Gemayel returned to Tampa with his check.
But once there he discovered that his low-bandwidth Internet connection was hampering the development of his business. By the beginning of 2013, he had moved to Chattanooga.
Other companies have become Gig-related successes. Quickcue, a company that developed a tablet-based guest-management system for restaurants, began here in 2011 and over the next two years attracted about $3 million in investments. In December, OpenTable, the online restaurant reservations pioneer, bought Quickcue for $11.5 million.
Big technology dreams do not always pan out, of course, and Chattanooga is familiar with failed experiments. The city spent millions of dollars in the last five years to build a citywide Wi-Fi network, known as the “wireless mesh,” intended for use by residents and city agencies. It sits largely unused, and its utility has largely been usurped by 4G wireless service.
Few people here would say that the Gig has even begun to be used to its fullest. “The potential will only be capped by our selfishness,” said Miller Welborn, a partner at the Lamp Post Group, the business incubator where Banyan shares office space with a dozen other start-ups. “The Gig is not fully useful to Chattanooga unless a hundred other cities are doing the same thing. To date, the best thing it’s done for us is it put us on the map.”
For all the optimism, many boosters are aware there are limits to how far the Gig can take the city, particularly as it waits for the rest of the country to catch up.
“We don’t need to be the next Silicon Valley,” Mayor Andy Berke said. “That’s not who we’re going to be, and we shouldn’t try to be that. But we are making our own place in the innovation economy.”
Correction: February 3, 2014
An earlier version of this article misspelled the surname of the co-founder of Banyan, a software start-up. It is Toni Gemayel, not Gemeyal.
On Friday, January 31, the ConnectHHI Team hosted a welcome/kickoff event at the HHI Library. City and County leaders were introduced to the ConnectSC effort that will be pursued to create a baseline assessment of Broadband Connectivity for HHI & Beaufort County. This assessment will provide a framework for creating Action Plans and Programs for connectivity in all areas of our Community.
Jim Collett welcomes attendees to the ConnectHHI kickoff
The Task Force for Improved Cell Service is broadening its focus to “Connectivity” versus improving cell coverage. The Team will now be called the “ConnectHHI Team”. Its main focus will be to lead Hilton Head Island, and Beaufort County, through a connectivity assessment using ConnectSC methodology. Kickoff of the County-wide effort will be on January 31, 2014 at the HHI Public Library at 2:00PM. At that meeting County leaders from business, government and education will be given an overview in the process, the goals of a ConnectSC efforts and a discussion of the roles of everyone involved.
Cell phones and cell phone towers send signals using radio frequency (RF) energy,
or radiation, just like radio, television, pagers and other wireless communication
devices. Many people have asked whether the RF energy from cell
phones and cell phone towers is safe. This fact sheet provides you with answers
to some common questions about RF energy and effects on health.
Sometimes when professional golfers are frustrated with the condition of a tournament course they say “the only things missing are the cows!”
Well, this week at the PGA Championship in Atlanta there were COWs present. These COWs were brought in specifically to boost cellular coverage for the people attending the tournament. A COW, Cellular On Wheels, is a specially designed truck equipped with an extendable tower that can be brought in to boost cellular capacity at an event like this. The one you see here was located between the 10th & 18th holes at Atlanta Athletic Club. There was a second one on the front nine also.
Speaking of cellular reception, this sign was spotted on the golf course.
PGA Cell Zone
This is definitely a “sign of the times” – a place to make phone calls on a golf course during a major! (Compare this to Augusta where you needed to check your phone at the entrance gate). Mark Twain said “Golf is a good walk spoiled”. I wonder what he would say about this.
Do we really need to use our phones while we are attending a golf tournament? What do you all think?
This video shows information on how RootMetrics works. You should skip to the 22:00 Min mark unless you want to hear info on cellphones and tablets. CNET has “partnered” with RootMetrics to help people better understand what “real” cellphone service is. This was published earlier this year.