The United States may be the world's biggest military and economic superpower, but the speed of America's internet service in much of the country lags behind emerging countries like Korea and U.S. fiber investment plans aren't keeping pace with China.
Susan Crawford, author of the new book "Fiber: The Coming Tech Revolution — and Why America Might Miss It," said South Korean visitors to the United States lament how they can't get the same quality of internet service as they do at home.
If you go
Susan Crawford will speak at the Edney Innovation Center, 5th floor, a 5 .m. on Thursday, April 25. Interested persons may register for the free event at https://www.eventbrite.com/e/fiber-author-susan-crawford-presentation-and-book-signing-tickets-57711749396.
"I've never been embarrassed to be an American, but when people from Korea said coming to the United States was like taking a rural vacation, that really got my attention," Crawford told Wired.com writer Steven Levy in a recent interview to promote her new book. "They thought America was so remote and unconnected, that it was very restful here."
In researching her book on the status of fiber and internet service around the world, Crawford said the mayor of Stockholm, Sweden "grabbed me by the arm and said, "can I help? Is there anything I can do?'
Crawford said China plans to have 80 percent of its homes wired to fiber, but much of America has no such plans.
Crawford visited Chattanooga several times while conducting her research and features Chattanooga's "Gig City" in her book as an example of a city that is doing it right. Aided by a $111 million federal stimulus grant, Chattanooga's municipal utility, EPB, began building its fiber-to-home communications network nearly a decade ago and added 10 gigabit service by 2015. Last fall, EPB signed up its 100,000th customer of EPB Fiber.
Crawford will speak at a public meeting at 5 p.m. Thursday at the Edney Innovation Center, 5th floor, to sign copies of her book and discuss Chattanooga's pioneering effort to promote high-speed internet to all persons. Crawford's book discusses the development of fiber and how the next revolution of 5G and other new technologies will change communication, medicine and work.
"It really is a phase change," Crawford said "We can't even imagine in America what it would be like to have essentially unlimited bandwidth capacity at a very cheap price and to be able to see the rest of the world like a pane of glass, not separate from them at all."
Previously, Crawford served in the Obama administration as a special assistant for science, technology and innovation policy, and she is now a columnist for WIRED and a professor at Harvard Law School.