Leaders of Australia's first Gig city meet America's first Gig city

Leaders of Australia's first Gig city meet America's first Gig city

September 30th, 2016 by Dave Flessner and Tim Omarzu in Business Around the Region

Amanda Cagle plays accordion on the fourth floor of the Chattanooga Public Library downtown Thursday afternoon while Linda Bassick accompanies her on Fender Telecaster electric guitar in real time from Burlington, Vt. as library employee Rob Wichtman runs the soundboard and high-speed Internet connection.

Photo by Contributed Photo /Times Free Press.

Amanda Cagle plays accordion on the fourth floor of the Chattanooga Public Library downtown Thursday afternoon while Linda Bassick accompanies her on Fender Telecaster guitar in real time from Burlington, Vt.

Amanda Cagle plays accordion on the fourth floor...

Photo by Contributed Photo /Times Free Press.

Two female rockers did a duet Thursday afternoon of two hits from 1976, The Who's "Squeeze Box" and AC/DC's "It's a Long Way to the Top (If You Wanna Rock 'n' Roll)," at the Chattanooga Public Library's downtown branch to show the capability of Chattanooga's high-speed internet networks to a handful of Australian visitors.

Chattanooga accordionist Amanda Cagle was on the library's fourth floor while guitarist Linda Bassick was some 1,100 miles away at the Fletcher Free Library in Burlington, Vt. But with only a 30-millisecond delay, it felt like they were jamming in the same room.

"It's like standing 20 feet away from somebody on stage," library spokeswoman Mary Barnett said.

The musicians made music together, because they both were connected to the Global Environment for Network Innovation, or "GENI Rack." It's a nationwide network that's 10 to 100 times faster than Chattanooga's gigabit internet network. The GENI Rack connects some 60 research universities, including the University of Tennessee at Chattanooga. The Chattanooga Public Library connects through the UTC's GENI Rack link.

"We're not using the regular Internet," said library employee Rob Wichtman, who ran the soundboard, the high-speed Internet connection and LOLA, the LOw LAtency audio visual streaming software system that let the musicians see and hear each other in real time for their duet.

Seeing how Chattanooga is using America's fastest internet is what brought the leaders of Australia's first gig city to Tennessee Thursday as part of their week-long tour of U.S. cities with the fastest broadband speeds.

"Chattanooga is certainly held up around the world as a shining example of how you can successfully make that transition from a traditional economy with traditional manufacturing to a more innovative economy using high-speed broadband, which is proving to be so critical in all areas of life," said Kyam Maher, the South Australian minister for science and information technology.

Adelaide, Australia, this month became the first city to install gigabit internet connections in Australia and the first international city to join US Ignite's network of Smart Gigabit cities. Chattanooga, the first American community to gain citywide gigabit-per-second internet speed via EPB's fiber optic network, is one of 15 Smart Gigabit communities included in a $6 million National Science Foundation program to foster high-speed internet applications.

"Adelaide is a city very similar to Chattanooga that previously relied heavily upon heavy manufacturing and is transitioning to a new type of economy," Maher said during a visit to the Company Lab at the hub of Chattanooga's Innovation District. "This (gig service) is exceptionally important because of a lot of ways we live, work, learn and get health care in the future will depend upon the way in which we are connected."

South Australian Premier Jay Weatherill has cited Chattanooga's economic turnaround and its high-speed Gig service to promote his government's plan to bring gigabit broadband to key areas around Adelaide through the South Australian Broadband and Education Network (SABRENet).

Nationwide, the Australian government is spending $40 billion to upgrade its internet links to provide high-speed broadband across most of the continent by 2019.

Australia boasts some of the top research facilities in the Southern hemisphere, but its distance from much of the world has kept the continent somewhat isolated.

"Historically for those living in Australia there was this tyranny of distance," said Tom Hajdu, CEO of Disruptor Dotcom in Australia. "But ultra-high speed internet essentially smashes that tyranny of distance and is a powerful generator, not just of innovation, but of strategic relations as well."

The Australian delegation visiting Chattanooga also heard about the ongoing work at the Smart Communications and Analysis Lab (SCAL) at the University of Tennessee at Chattanooga.

Dr. Mina-Sartipi, an associate professor of computer science and engineering at UTC, described how UTC is researching new ways to use the smart electric grid, to promote long-distance and smart health programs using high-speed broadband and figuring out more intelligent transportation networks and urban plans through both wireless communication and broadband pipes to address urban problems of pollution, congestion and transportation.

During their week-long American tour, the Australian delegation will also visit three other U.S. "Smart cities" — Austin, Texas, Washington, D.C., and New York City.

Contact Tim Omarzu at tomarzu@timesfreepress.com, 423-757-6651 or Dave Flessner at dflessner@timesfreepress.com, 423-757-6340.