I recently re-watched The Hunger Games -- call it a dystopian guilty pleasure -- and as Katniss Everdeen rode into the high-tech Capitol on a bullet train, I couldn't help but think to myself, "This city must have a lot of fiber."
Call me a geek if you want, but the capital of Panem is absolutely a smart city -- the holograms in the Hunger Games control room alone would require extremely high throughput. And Smart Cities like Panem need smart, reliable infrastructure that only all-fiber networks can provide.
Cities turn to all-fiber networks because they provide the fastest, most reliable connectivity available, with higher tested upload and download speeds than cable, DSL or wireless. This becomes important in a smart city, where fiber supports traffic lights, municipal buildings, surveillance cameras, and other similar assets. Cities will also need fiber to future-proof their networks to support all of the emerging connected applications. As cities innovate and incorporate next-generation technology like connected air purifiers, smart trash cans or flexible-use streets, a fiber backbone will become even more critical.
There is also a strong correlation between fiber deployment and small cell activity -- an essential piece of 5G deployment. Urban areas with fiber have, on average, 37% more deployed small cells and just over 35% more smart city applications than those without it, according to a 2018 study from RVA, LLC. By the same token, 33% of cities without fiber report small cell activity, versus 60% of cities with fiber to the residence. This relationship indicates that cities interested in next-generation connectivity are looking to fiber as a solution.
Smart fiber cities are thriving
There is a lot of exciting collaboration between the fiber broadband industry and local municipalities to build smart cities. One such example is
EPB in Chattanooga. Nearly a decade ago, EPB built out a fiber network that established Chattanooga, Tennessee as America's first Gig City. Since then, EPB has provided over 100,000 residential and business customers with some of the fastest, most reliable Internet connections available.
Orlando: seeking smart solutions
Head south and you'll find several urban areas following the lead of Chattanooga, including vacation hotspot Orlando. With more than a quarter-million residents, 126 million tourists annually, a bustling international airport and a fiber optic network running beneath the growing metro area, Orlando is primed for smart city initiatives. Earlier this year, the City Beautiful kicked its smart city quest into high-gear and hired a full-time director to oversee these initiatives. As president and CEO of the Fiber Broadband Association, I'm thrilled to share that Michael Hess, the new project director for Smart City Projects, will speak next week at our Fiber Connect conference in Orlando, where he will share his insights on the role fiber will play in Orlando's digital transformation.
Be it a city in Central Florida or a dystopian city in Panem, smart cities need smart infrastructure. Today, any metropolis planning to pilot smart city initiatives should include a fiber broadband plan. It's simply the only way to ensure a successful launch of a next-generation city.
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