Bring Google Fiber to Memphis, TN!
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Living in Memphis is a second-to-none experience. It's the home of the Blues and the birthplace of Rock 'n' Roll. From famed artists Elvis Presley, B.B. King and Jerry Lee Lewis to Stax "Soul" Records, Sun Studios and the incomparable, world-renowned Beale Street… these legendary figures and attractions speak to the proud, rich musical history of our city. This history lives on today with the Beale Street Music Festival, Visible Music College, and a diverse current and up-and-coming artist scene. History and tradition are not things of the past here in Memphis; they are very much alive. From the Gibson Guitar Factory to Graceland to the Civil Rights Museum and the Chucalissa Indian Village, history is ingrained all across this great city.
In addition, there is a huge entrepreneurial spirit that runs deep in Memphis. One prime example is the Holiday Inn. When Kemmons Wilson envisioned reliable, standardized motel service, he created exactly that with the first Holiday Inn, right here in Memphis. In the world of Supply Chain and logistics, businesses are quick to call Memphis “America’s Aerotropolis” and “North America’s Logistics Center." This is because Memphis is home to the world’s busiest cargo airport, Memphis International. Memphis International moves millions of tons of cargo every year, as it serves to homes of the FedEx World Hub and other major hubs for UPS and DHL.
Memphis International has become the largest economic driver in the state of Tennessee and has an impact of over $23.3 billion. Because of Memphis, FedEx can deliver to any North American location within 24 hours and to most global cities in less than two days. In addition, Memphis is home to distribution centers for many of the largest companies in the world. Toys R Us, Netflix, Brother, Sharp, Fujitsu, Carrier, Electrolux, Technicolor, Jabil, and Flextronics are among the few companies that hold operations in the Bluff City. Major Film studios like Walt Disney and Sony Pictures actually contract Technicolor to manufacture and distribute half of the DVDs and Blu-Ray disks distributed in the US. In addition, Flextronics conducts in-and out-of warranty repair for laptops and other mobile devices for companies like Apple, HP, IBM and others. Memphis is also the 3rd largest rail center in the US behind St. Louis and Chicago. More than two-thirds of all international freight tons and 85% of its value move in and out of Memphis by rail. In addition, the Mississippi river bordering Memphis houses the fourth-largest inland port in the US. With all this enormous available capacity, several firms have chosen the Bluff City for their business. In fact, Memphis has become the second-largest city for manufacturing orthopedic devices because of its logistical resources, with firms like Smith & Nephew, Wright Medical, and Medtronic making the Bluff City its home for its facilities. As an example, Smith & Nephew can have a doctor in San Francisco meet with a patient at 9pm, order parts, and perform surgery by 11am the next day. This makes Memphis one of the only cities in the world to offer that.
Memphis distinguishes itself from any other city thanks to its ability to keep its history and entrepreneurial theme vibrant and alive, but the continued barriers to upward socioeconomic mobility that many Memphians experience are one aspect of our city’s legacy that needs to be eliminated. The challenges involved in tearing down these barriers are quite multifaceted and complex. Access to broadband internet is more important than ever before, as it provides quick access to information and resources. Lower speeds at higher prices have a dual effect on not only pricing the poor out of the broadband internet market, but also dampening business and workplace productivity. Memphis is dominated by an oligopolistic broadband market which makes access to the internet slow, unreliable and expensive. In Memphis, consumers have two options for fixed-line broadband -- AT&T and Comcast. However, the former does not service all areas with U-Verse and in many cases consumers are left with now obsolete-DSL service. Both ISPs are known to be less than 100% reliable, are expensive and remain at the top of lists for worst customer satisfaction in the ISP industry.
While there are reports that Google is researching the possibility of bringing high-speed internet to low income areas in Nashville, Google Fiber would benefit Memphis even more. Memphis has been considered one of the poorest cities in America with one of the highest poverty rates for a city of its size, with some estimates as high as 28.6%. With Google Fiber, these poverty-riddled areas could take advantage of the free 5Mbps service offered by Google Fiber to look for jobs, get access to information, apply for government assistance they don't already know about, and even educate themselves with resources like the Khan Academy, Coursera, and several others. While Comcast offers an internet essentials bundle for an affordable price, this option is only available to homes with students in grade school who are eligible for the National School Lunch Program. This still leaves out a large number of unemployed/underemployed individuals who are not in school. While smartphones, laptops, tablets and other devices are found ubiquitously throughout Memphis, internet access is not. Moving internet access to ubiquity has been a slow process, and for the past several years, remained at a near standstill. The vast majority of Memphis is served by just two providers; this lack of competition in the market reduces the incentive to provide faster service and/or more affordable prices. A stagnant market is bad for business, bad for citizens, and bad for our city.
We need a dynamic new presence to shake things up in our city and stimulate growth. Memphis wants to be a city that keeps things fresh and new while never losing its historical roots, and Google Fiber can help to do exactly that. Memphis has a huge up-and-coming musical artist scene that could greatly benefit from high bandwidth available from Google Fiber. Imagine artists collaborating with each other in real-time, via video-conferencing. This could reduce some overhead costs and eliminate the need for transportation, another barrier many in Memphis face to overcome. Video-conferencing could also benefit Memphis' medical district. Memphis has one of the best medical districts in the country, from St. Jude Children's Research Hospital to Le Bonheur Children's Hospital to the University of Tennessee Health Science Center to Methodist University Hospital and Regional One Health (formerly The MED). These world-class institutions have been at the forefront of medical research and care. St. Jude Children's Research Hospital is the first and only pediatric treatment and research facility to be designated as a Comprehensive Cancer Center by the National Cancer Institute, and discoveries made at St. Jude have completely changed how the world treats children with cancer and other catastrophic diseases. In addition, Lebonheur Children’s Hospital treats more than 200,000 children each year, and has been named one of U.S. News and World Report’s Best Children’s Hospitals. These are just a few of the highlights of Memphis’ medical district, but Google Fiber could help foster newer opportunities within it. Imagine video conferencing with patients or performing surgery via robots hundreds or even thousands of miles away. Not only could Google Fiber foster new opportunities for Memphis, lack of healthcare could become less of an obstacle. In fact, this resonates with more than just healthcare. Education, jobs, access to information, and more have become the forefront of problems here in the Bluff city, but could all become less of an obstacle with newly available access to high speed and affordable internet.
In addition, while many Memphians lack routine access to the internet, this puts our city at a disadvantage when it comes to identifying, cultivating, and supporting potential innovators and leaders. Bringing Google Fiber will dramatically increase the educational and economic resources available to all Memphians, and many of the underprivileged will be able to realize their full potential. Despite the shortcomings, there are several elements that bring Memphians from every socioeconomic background together. Several Memphis businesses have appeared on FORTUNE’s list for best companies to work for, including St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital, FedEx, Medtronic, First Horizon (parent company of First Tennessee), and others. Forbes has ranked Memphis #4 on their list of the Happiest Cities for Job-Seeking College Grads. In addition, The love and support of Memphis shows when we come together to cheer on the Memphis Grizzlies and the University of Memphis Tigers. Memphis loves basketball, so when it's game time, we make it known our love for the team is nothing short of superb. When it comes to BBQ, nothing compares to what you'll find and experience in Memphis. Memphians enjoy eating barbecue during any holiday or special occasion, and some of the best BBQ eateries originated in the Bluff City.
In addition, every year Memphis hosts the World Championship Barbecue Cooking Contest as part of Memphis in May. And of course Music always brings Memphis together. From its legendary-past of likes from Elvis Presley and present Justin Timberlake, to its up-and-coming artist scene, Memphis can never lose touch with its feel and love for music. Together, these elements bring Memphians together and empower us as a family, and Memphis is ready to welcome Google Fiber into its family. We can begin to address one less desirable aspect of our legacy while at the same time fostering new opportunities for economic development all across the city.
As citizens of Memphis we ask Google to bring their fiber-optic broadband internet-service to Memphis with open arms, because the service would not only impact the people of Memphis, but the entire world.
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