Gaps in Wireless Coverage, Aging Fiber Network Challenges for Tech City

Alpharetta's Technology Commission is charting priorities for the city to strengthen its aim to be the Technology City of the Southeast.

Tech firm executives are identifying where the city's strengths and weaknesses are for their kinds of companies as the Alpharetta Technology Commission and its committees get to work.

Peter Tokar III, the city's Economic Development director, reported to City Council on Monday night that the Build committee took a look at the public infrastructure in Alpharetta. Tokar said one of the city's strengths is the fiber optic network running through major corridors. But the age of the fiber and other equipment could be a weakness.

The major area where there may be deficiencies is the wireless broadband cell coverage in the city.

"We have a lot of gaps in coverage," he said.

Looking at the future, so much of business is going mobile.

"The reliability of that mobile service is based on how many megabytes you get on that phone anywhere in the city," Tokar said.

A drop from 5 bars down to 1 is huge in determining how much – or how little – can be downloaded.

A very high caliber of Internet connectivity is being provided to business, but that same level isn't provided to all residents.

A main drive for the Avalon development will be making it a dedicated gigabit community. That requires fiber optic lines to every business, which is more expensive than the typical copper lines.

Members of this Alpharetta Technology Commission committee are looking at taking field trips to nearby cities that already are implementing the latest technology. Chattanooga, TN, is one of those communities. The city already has gigabit Internet service, which is about 100 times faster than most Americans' Internet service.

Councilman Jim Gilvin said it seemed to him running that fiber cable directly to homes would be part of a franchisee's responsibility.

Tokar said handling this would have to be strategically planned. While the city couldn't require new developments to provide the fiber cable from the street to the homes, it could encourage them.

The committee also is developing a technology survey that will be given to all tech businesses. Tokar said it's being kept simple, down to 10 questions.


Vic Hawa February 27, 2013 at 03:50 PM
Doh! Good thing we established the ATC. AT&T has successfully deployed GPON in many communities. Great choice for Avalon. Not as expensive as other networks and extremely reliable and simiple to install and maintain. No need to travel to Chattanooga, just look to communities in Johns Creek and Chamblee for examples of GPON for MDU applications. Developers need to bite the proverbial bullet and invest in fiber. 24 ga and 26 ga copper can't handle current and future telecom requirements and should not even be a consideration. The knowledge of copper installation and maintenance is rapidly vanishing from the telecom industry.


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