Connecticut Cities and Towns Ask for Gigabit Speeds; Are Likely to Get Most of What They Want

A gigabit Internet access network serving “targeted commercial corridors as well as in residential areas with demonstrated demand is the goal sought by a consortium of 46 Connecticut cities and towns.

In the end, the municipalities are likely to get what they want, either because incumbents step up, to protect their existing businesses, or because new suppliers, able to operate with lower operating costs, enter the markets.

That doesn't necessarily mean a full potential gigabit at every location. Functionally, the communities will get what they want when anchor institutions and enterprises can buy a full gigabit or even hundreds of megabits per second and consumers in neighborhoods can buy hundreds of megabits per second.

The immediate value of such speeds is most clear for large organizations with lots of users. Individual small businesses or consumers cannot actually gain much.

For incumbents, skinnier profit margins are likely, one way or the other. For at least some would-be attackers, it might be possible to gain entry into the Internet access market.

But a fierce response might be coming. In that instance, the municipalities will succeed in their goal of stimulating investment in faster Internet access. Comcast, which operators in Connecticut, already has said it will upgrade virtually all of its networks to gigabit speeds by the end of 2016.

Whether other major Internet service providers will go that far, or not, is not yet clear. But it would be reasonable to suggest upgrades to hundreds of megabits will be forthcoming, especially where the municipalities really want it: commercial corridors and some residential neighborhoods willing to pay more for higher speeds.

Ignore for the moment the fact that, today, speeds available per user beyond 10 Mbps have negligible to zero additional utility. That is a matter of science. “Gigabit” is about marketing, perceived economic advantage for communities or states and perceived advantages for anchor institutions.

A betting person would guess those demands will be rather swiftly met by firms that face clear threats.
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