What is preventing Internet Speeds from improving?
4 · SEP ·2014
Fluidata has spent years developing solutions that enable high speed Internet connections to both businesses and those that have previously had slow connection speeds due to rural broadband issues. Our Service Exchange Platform (SEP) was awarded the Queen’s Award for Enterprise in Innovation 2014 due to its ability to deliver high speed Internet connections to businesses and those who offer numerous clients or sites connectivity.
However, even though Fluidata is currently paving the way for high speed Internet connections in the UK, there are other companies who are also trying to eliminate the digital divide and advance new technologies. In fact, it’s not just companies that are trying to improve Internet connections, as shown in Chattanooga, Tennessee, where the city’s municipally owned electricity company ECB has created the very first 1 gigabit per second Internet connection, aptly named ‘The Gig’. In 2009 the town of Chattanooga was a business dead zone with zero venture capital; now there are five organised funds with investable capital over $50m.
Start-up companies are now flocking to Chattanooga in order to take advantage of their high speed Internet and the town’s forward thinking approach when it comes to technology. An old department store in the town’s Market Street has even been converted into a tech incubator called Lamp Post where a new generation of tech companies are starting their businesses. “We’re not Silicon Valley. No one will ever replicate that,” says Allan Davis, one of Lamp Post’s partners. “But we don’t need to be and not everyone wants that. The expense, the hassle. You don’t need to be there to create great technology. You can do it here.”
However, some of the biggest ISPs in the US are already calling on the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) to block publically owned broadband companies from expanding. In a blogpost, USTelecoms – the largest ISP in the US – wrote: “The success of public broadband is a mixed record, with numerous examples of failures. With state taxpayers on the financial hook when a municipal broadband network goes under, it is entirely reasonable for state legislatures to be cautious in limiting or even prohibiting that activity.”
“States have adopted a wide range of legislative approaches on how much authority they give local governments to build, own and operate broadband networks. Some states require an election or public hearings before a public project can move forward. Others ask for competitive bids, and still others put restrictions on the terms of service so the public entities bear the same regulatory burdens as private service providers.”
This is a prime example of the monopolisation of the Internet connection markets which is causing a number of issues both in the UK and the US. Some of the largest ISPs in the UK have recently been accused of not providing adequate Internet speeds or customer service, such as BT Openreach who are being investigated by the industry regulator Ofcom. However at the same time these companies will be loath to lose some of their power and let others into the market regardless of whether it could improve Internet speeds and enable advancements in the tech industry.
In the UK there are a number of companies that are trying to change the way that broadband, fibre networks and voice, data and television networks are used by the masses, such as IFNL, CityFibre and Gigaclear. This means that in the future high speed Internet connections will be more widely available as long as these companies are given their fair share of the market. In order to improve Internet speeds both in the UK and around the globe, it is essential for all types of businesses to be able to advance and offer new and innovative solutions to their customers which will not only improve their businesses but also their local tech sectors and economies.