Internet at Lightning Speed in Blacksburg

Jun 11, 2013

Blacksburg aims to become one of the few places in the country with lightening fast Internet and Wi-Fi for businesses and local residents.

It’s considered the next level of Internet technology, up to a gigabit of capacity to send information from a computer via a high speed fiber connection. What does a gigabit of capacity mean? Bob Summers, founder of Techpad, a shared workspace in downtown Blacksburg, explains.

“Consider that a gigabit of connection is like a new kind of airport it connects me to Austin, Kansas City and Chattanooga which have gigabit connectivity.  It really is the modern age of airports in my mind where I go one place and I can instantly be transported to another.

It’s your files, which will be making the trip. Summers says this creates new opportunity for users.

“Imagine sending one- thousand high resolution pictures into face book in one second, never ever seeing anything buffer. That creates levels of orders of mag greater than what you have now. We’re talking about a hundred times faster than what you can get in your home.”

Internet technology leaders in Blacksburg have long been working on bringing the next level of Internet here, a kind of grace note to Virginia Tech’s early Internet experiment known as BEV for Blacksburg Electronic Village. It gave private citizens access to a service once reserved for government and academia. Bob Summers was an early adopter.  He used the Internet experiment to telecommute to a job in northern Virginia. It helped him work his way through undergraduate studies at Tech.  Fast forward to the next milestone.

“There’s a new world where everyone is connected with fiber or gigabit connectivity and the aps that run on that kind of connectivity can be invented here in Blacksburg and some of them are. So gig bit aps for health care, public safety, these are all brand new markets which we have all the competency to fulfill.” 

A crowd sourced fund raising campaign brought in nearly one hundred thousand dollars to kick off this year-long pilot project.  The goal is for the new Internet service to go live by mid August.