Earlier this month I was one of 115,000 attendees from around the world at CES 2023, engaging with technologies that gave us a view into the future. These innovations are the seeds for new businesses that will transform our lives, generate U.S. jobs, and improve communities.
And none of these technologies can work without fiber.
Without it, we wouldn’t have access to the basic services we take for granted today, such as doctor’s visits on our laptops, remote education, work from home, and ordering dinner without having to leave the couch – not to mention the ever-expanding availability and utility of 4G and 5G cellular services.
But not everyone in the U.S. has access to fiber in their homes today. The past Congress and the Biden-Harris Administration took a large step in closing the digital divide a year ago by passing and signing into law the Bipartisan Infrastructure Law. The law includes a once-in-a-generation investment of $65 billion in broadband, updating decades-old telecom systems with 21st Century infrastructure to ensure every American has access to reliable high-speed internet.
Fiber is the only broadband technology that provides a future-proof growth path for multiple gigabit symmetrical speeds today and into the future. But speed is only one parameter of what will be required in the future. Fiber also delivers ultra-low latency, symmetric bandwidth, and brings superior resilience compared to all other technologies, along with increased physical security, and a more sustainable footprint – a key theme of CES 2023. Based on FBA’s recent studies, when every home is connected with fiber the carbon footprint reduction will be equivalent to taking 11 million cars off the road.
We know what is defined today as “sufficient” for internet bandwidth will soon be considered not enough and “underserved.” Some argue that certain locations are too expensive to be serviced with fiber. This approach is penny-wise and pound foolish. It puts communities at risk of having to ask policymakers for funding to upgrade in a few years and miss out on years of economic benefits in the meantime.
The greatest benefit that fiber delivers is as an engine for economic development and growth. Since Chattanooga, Tennessee, became the first “gigabit city” a decade ago, providing fiber connectivity to all its residents, the network has delivered nearly $2.7 billion in economic benefits, including creating an estimated 9,500 jobs.
Chattanooga is not a fluke. Douglas County in Oregon has a fiber network that delivers over $28 million in cost savings and revenue per year, and it supports critical seasonal firefighting activities. The City of Westfield, Massachusetts, has realized over $88 million annually in job-related benefits from its network.
Businesses looking to relocate or expand often ask, “Is fiber available?” Similarly, households want high speed internet to work from home, operate their own businesses, and have adequate educational resources available for their children. This is why communities of all sizes need fiber.
The newest and latest innovations that emerged from the halls of CES 2023 share in common the need for future-proof broadband networks. Networks capable of delivering low-latency, high bandwidth symmetrical speeds. Networks that can easily scale to meet the needs of households, small businesses, and enterprises. Fiber is the technology upon which today’s modern society functions. Fiber provides the literal glass strands that power today’s information-based economy. And fiber will provide the essential foundation for this year’s innovations and those that will emerge for decades to come.