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Geoff Daily

App-Rising.com covers the development and adoption of broadband applications, the deployment of and need for broadband networks, and the demands placed on policy to adapt to the revolutionary opportunities made possible by the Internet.

App-Rising.com is written by Geoff Daily, a DC-based technology journalist, broadband activist, marketing consultant, and Internet entrepreneur.

App-Rising.com is supported in part by AT&T;, however all views and opinions expressed herein are solely my own.

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September 26, 2008 12:26 PM

Biggest Municipally Fibered Community Still Searching For Killer App

After hitting up the FTTH Conference this week I swung by Jackson, TN to tour what I believe is still the largest deployed municipal full fiber network in the country.

Being driven around by Michael Johnston, Jackson Energy Authority's VP of IT, and Matt York, JEA's director of network management, I was able to see signs of the network's impact everywhere. (JEA is the public utility that deployed the fiber network.)

There was a call center that located in Jackson at least in part because of their fiber infrastructure, bringing quality jobs to the area.

There were electronic billboards that rotate ads delivered through JEA's network.

The school district was using Polycom phones as it transitions over to an IP-based phone system since they have bandwidth to spare.

There was an encrypted wireless network for public safety agencies that was able to be put up easily with the fiber in place to hook into.

There was a teleradiology company with its servers hosted in JEA's bunker that uses the capacity of fiber to move images quickly.

I spoke with multiple customers who raved about the speed, the reliability of the network, the quality of the customer support, and the value JEA delivers, as well as their willingness to work with their customers to find solutions that meet their needs, like a local college that can turn their bandwidth up and down based on the time of year (higher in the fall, lower in the summer).

Yet at the same time I couldn't help but find myself being a little disappointed: I didn't find a single new, truly innovative thing happening that required the bandwidth of fiber.

And this certainly wasn't going unnoticed by JEA. They're hungry for big bandwidth applications, both for the betterment of their community as well as the opportunity to differentiate the capacity of fiber vs. that of their copper-based competitors.

The inescapable reality, though, is that those apps don't seem to exist yet, or at least the ones that do like telepresence are still too expensive to have an impact across all facets of society and especially in the lives of average consumers.

But this isn't just a challenge, it's also an opportunity. We must come together to start the conversation about what can we do with all this bandwidth. And that's exactly why I'm so excited about the world's first CampFiber that'll be taking place on Saturday Oct. 4th in Lafayette, LA.

At this event, developers, businesspeople, and local leaders will be coming together to start brainstorming around this central issue with the goal of inspiring the development of applications that take full advantage of the capacity of full fiber networks.

After we get this inaugural event under our belt I'm going to be trying to get similar events set up in places like Jackson, TN and in Utah at the UTOPIA project, both communities that have expressed interest in pursuing this model.

We can't afford to sit back and wait for that killer app of full fiber networks to show up. Instead it's time we push forward on all fronts to engage creative, entrepreneurial types in these communities and across the nation to combine our collective ingenuity and focus our efforts on identifying those new apps that'll help prove the need for achieving a 100Mbps Nation.

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Comments (1)

Funny you mention this. I had a conversation with a hardware vendor just a few weeks ago that we needed something like this for UTOPIA, some kind of broadband expo to figure out what to do beyond the triple play.

Posted by Jesse Harris on September 27, 2008 10:38 PM

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