COLUMBUS, GA (WTVM) - Opelika, AL is seeing positive economic results of being a "Gig City" - our Georgia-Alabama region's first city to invest in super high-speed fiber optics: allowing business and residential customers to download data at speeds of one gigabyte, or one billion bytes, per second.
The first city in the country to be a Gig City was Chattanooga, TN in 2010.
What followed there is incredible growth: attracting computer programmers, new businesses, restaurants and investment capital that Chattanooga acknowledges would not have happened without the taxpayer-backed fiber optic superhighway.
Now Montgomery is getting into the same game, for many of those same reasons.
Montgomery is seeing Opelika's success since Opelika's city owned fiber network debuted two years ago. Opelika Mayor Gary Fuller says they have 3,000 customers so far, and the city's $43 million investment is starting to pay off.
Businesses needing fast download speeds include medical and industrial customers and the mayor says being a Gig City gives companies and families another reason to choose to live and work in Opelika.
Not every city can afford to build out a fiber optic network.
But as Columbus and other cities in our region look to retain and attract young people and new businesses and grow existing businesses in our region, and especially to not lose young people to cities like Chattanooga, the advantage of being a "Gig City" just might be a billion dollar idea.