A gigabit is the loneliest number

The guys at the Lamp Post Group in Chattanooga, Tenn., have an embarrassment of riches when it comes to bandwidth. The city boasts the first real gigabit speeds in the U.S., and today is the deadline for folks to apply to come to the city this summer to build applications that can take advantage of the network’s awesome speeds. But there’s a problem too.

The Internet is reciprocal, and without other folks with gigabit connections, Jack Studer, a managing partner at Lamp Post, is wondering who the students, developers and hackers that plan to come play on the network will talk to. Sure, the network works inside the town. Studer has described some of the ways it has changed the way he runs his business. But what happens if he tries to build apps and ship them over long-haul networks?

The problem is both a lack of powerful gigabit networks, but also uncertainty about what happens when a large number of people start sending traffic out from Chattanooga’s networks. As a commenter explained in a recent post, a gigabit is only as good as the backhaul coming into it. Which means if I use a gigabit connection and start uploading something to the web at large, only the first mile will be fast. And if an entire town (or a bunch of enterprising developers) finds ways to use the bandwidth on its first mile of access, at some point something might break.

So Studer is looking for the universities, the towns with their own fiber networks, and maybe ISP’s such as Sonic.net or Verizon’s(s vz) labs to talk to his network. Help him kick the tires a bit and see what happens. So if you have a gig or maybe even 500 Mbps, plus an extra server lying around, give Lamp Post a call. You might be helping build the next generation of connectivity. And how cool would that be?

Image courtesy of Flickr user bgottsab.