'New Currency': Louisville Innovation Chief On Why Fiber Internet Matters
City officials are continuing to pave the way for companies looking to bring ultra high-speed Internet service to Louisville.
Earlier this week, the Louisville Metro Council approved an ordinance streamlining the infrastructure installation process. And in the coming weeks, companies looking to bring the service to Louisville will begin submitting applications to gain franchise authority.
The ultra high-speed gigabit Internet connectivity is expected to be up to 100 times faster and cheaper than services currently available to consumers, said Ted Smith, the city's chief of innovation.
Smith came to the WFPL News studio to talk about fiber connectivity and what it means for the future of Louisville. Listen to the conversation in the player above.
What are some of the biggest steps you've taken thus far in getting the city closer to this point?
Smith: This journey started four years ago, when we recognized that there were communities that were really seen as more attractive to do this kind of development, bring this kind of technology. And those cities would go by the simple handle of "fiber-friendly cities." The mayor and I have really focused on how Louisville, Ky., can be a fiber-friendly city and, quite frankly, it's simply a matter of thinking through how people get access to your rights of way, what you have available underground and how your laws work, so that it's easy -- or not -- to do business if you're in the telecommunications industry.
What type of economic development could this spark?
Smith: Increasingly, when companies are looking at locating here, they are asking "well, tell me about your city and do you have the stuff I'm looking for." The good news about Louisville is we've always been able to answer the question about cultural amenities, a great public media station, all these kinds of things. But new to the list is "tell me about your Internet pricing, are you a fiber city." That's new, it's new currency. Nobody should underestimate the importance of all the items on the list, and there are usually a lot of items on the list. When people talk about infrastructure and how infrastructure drives economies, this is a type of infrastructure.
It seems like the cities that are similar in our size — Chattanooga, Kansas City — these are cities that are really booming because of this service.
Smith: Cities like Kansas City, cities like Charlotte, cities like Louisville are much more attractive now because of the crazy-expensive nature of some of these big, big cities. And so if we have all of the stuff you need — and I think cities like Louisville, we have all the stuff you want. We don't have it all on the same scale as New York City does, but we don't need to have it on the same scale, because, you know, we've got this many people, right?