Universal gigabit service, what’s needed for fiber expansion

Universal gigabit service enhances the connectivity speeds and network security of residences, municipalities and businesses alike.

But implementing a universal gigabit service has proven to be difficult through the years. A lack of coordination between stakeholders to build new fiber networks along with minimal existing infrastructure has resulted in limited access to fiber internet. However, the combination of demand and aggressive pursuit of improved access is changing the fiber landscape.

Who are the stakeholders in implementing universal gigabit service?

There are many stakeholders for fiber internet; however, common stakeholders are governments, enterprise users, colocation centers, economic development groups, telecommunications and infrastructure companies.

In St. Louis, some identifiable stakeholders are the City of St. Louis, the St. Louis Economic Development Partnership, Bi-State Development Agency, businesses, residences and groups that want to attract a skilled workforce needed to entice businesses.

Why hasn’t gigabit service become a universal service?

The prominent factor preventing universal gigabit service is the uncoordinated efforts to build new fiber networks. Luckily, we built a solid framework of fiber in the early 2000s that covers the majority of downtown. Arch Fiber built the network in conjunction with city lead street repairs to save time, effort and costs.

Another factor holding back widespread fiber connectivity is the lack of committed resources from government entities. Fortunately, things are changing. In St. Louis alone, we have a mayor that is aggressively pursuing the expansion of fiber infrastructure to more areas of the city.

What can gigabit service provide?

Many stakeholders want gigabit service in order to make the metro more attractive to skilled workforces, innovative businesses, entrepreneurs and community development organizations. Additionally, widespread fiber connections help improve crime fighting, education and healthcare.

By installing cameras connected to a fiber network, police can better access information and develop quicker responses to crime. Furthermore, police departments using fiber networks collect data and process the information with enhanced security, speed and efficiency.

Within the healthcare system, fiber changes the way we help our rural communities. Strong research and development hospitals can share information with the more rural communities. We’re near the point where you can start surgery via internet connection, video and robotics, reducing the need to build extra facilities. The fast, secure and scalable benefits of a fiber network are a big game-changer for the medical community. With the ability to access information immediately, a lot of healthcare entities can benefit greatly from gigabit service.

With access to a fiber connection, specifically dark fiber, school districts can control their own network and have their in-house IT department in control. Universal gigabit service has the ability to elevate the education system by giving opportunity to school districts that don’t have funds for the latest books and advanced curriculum. Fiber connectivity provides fast, safe and secure access to online services capable of improving the quality of education and coordination with other schools.

Where are we heading in the future?

Municipalities are exploring new payment structures and making a concerted effort to invest in gigabit service. In St. Louis, stakeholders have had meetings, working to find solutions with the goal of making fiber more attainable throughout the city.

Furthermore, a few companies like ourselves have been expanding fiber infrastructure in coordination with the city’s continual infrastructure improvements and repairs. If more companies and municipalities can coordinate together, fiber infrastructure can greatly expand in relatively short periods of time.

Demand from the stakeholders is the biggest factor in making changes. Demand leads to authorities working to figure out how to provide universal gigabit service to their communities. Without demand though, there is no incentive to change. Some opposition forces are content with that outcome, but the incentives associated with fiber service greatly outweigh satisfaction with the status quo.

Download our desktop guide

Are you looking for more information about fiber networking? Download our comprehensive guide. It highlights considerations for planning IT infrastructure, dark fiber financing options, key benefits of a dark fiber network and more.