Attorney Jim Baller, a partner in the Baller Herbst Law Group in Washington, D.C., illustrated the vast difference in speeds between a one-gigabyte-per-second fiber optic connection and an older digital subscriber line for participants at the Greater Rome Chamber of Commerce Confluence conference Thursday.
If a rural hospital were to send an X-ray to a larger hospital’s emergency room for interpretation, the fiber optic service would take 0.09 seconds, whereas it would take 19.83 seconds on the older line.
A business could download new software in 0.11 seconds, while traditional cable would take 24.78 seconds.
“Do you really need that kind of speed? As individuals it’s hard for us to envision applications today that could take advantage of all that bandwidth,” Baller said.
Ten years ago a study determined 128 kilobytes per second — not even megabytes — was all that was necessary for the foreseeable future.
“We don’t even know — and can’t know — all of the applications that could take advantage of this kind of bandwidth (available today),” Baller said.
The need for speed is now a driver for economic development and businesses.
“It supports educational opportunity and workforce training. It supports access to modern health care,” Baller said.
Dave Parker, the Chattooga County native whose Parker FiberNet installed the Appalachian Valley Fiber Network with a $21 million federal grant, told the tech-savvy audience he couldn’t have imagined as a youngster using a railroad line that ran near his family farm as a child to one day lay a fiber optic line.
“We’re 55 milliseconds to anywhere in the world,” Parker said. “All of a sudden the rest of the whole world is available.”
Parker said the children of today should not have to worry about how fast their connection speed is.
“We ought to create a culture, or environment, that allows kids to get the Internet to do all the things we’re talking about (at the Confluence conference),” Parker said. “If we can create a network where the infrastructure piece is the expected reality, then the infrastructure doesn’t become the limiting factor to the creativeness that we have in the community.”