Atlanta: Most Wired US City

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Atlanta: Most Wired US City

I have to be honest when I say I was surprised to read that Atlanta, GA is considered to be the most wired city in the US. When you look at the reasons however it begins to make sense.

As the communications hub for the Southeast, Atlanta boasts regional headquarters for AT&T and Verizon and a bustling community of Internet-related start-ups. It's also home to BellSouth (now AT&T), EarthLink and cable company Cox Communications. It also got an early jump on leading-edge technology after spending a fortune to wire its downtown area for the arrival of the Olympics in 1996.

This is according to an article on and here is an excerpt:

Here are some clues. To calculate our list, we looked at the percentage of Internet users with high-speed access, the range of service providers within a city and the availability of public wireless hot spots. Atlanta ranks highest in broadband adoption, access options and fourth in wi-fi availability. According to Nielsen Online, 97.2% of the city's home Internet users accessed the Web via a high-speed connection in November.

Some obvious choices finished high on the list. Techie Seattle, home to Microsoft, came in second, one notch above last year. San Francisco, the closest major city to Silicon Valley, was fourth for the second time. Though rich in hot spots, both lagged behind other cities in broadband adoption. (It works the other way, as well: Boston ranks second in broadband but poorer showings in the other categories dragged it down to 13th overall.) Two other major metropolises, Chicago and New York, improved their standings from 17th to 8th and 12th to 9th, respectively, to make the top 10, driven by more widespread adoption of high-speed Internet.

Other top-10 finishers were more surprising, such as third-place Raleigh, N.C. Raleigh Chief Information Officer Gail M. Roper attributes the city's strong showing to its thriving entrepreneurial culture, technology initiatives, major universities and fast-growing, highly-educated population. As CIO of Kansas City, Mo., (No. 22) from 1996 to 2006, Roper focused on digital-divide issues, working to improve youth and student access to the Internet. In Raleigh, she is considering building a citywide wi-fi network to expedite public services, cut telecom costs and deliver tourism information.

Fifth-place Orlando, Fla., and Baltimore also aren't top-of-mind when it comes to Internet initiatives. But Orlando, home to tourist-magnet Disney World, has "people coming in from all over--it has to be wired," explains Kagan. Baltimore vaulted to a 16th-place finish as the number of broadband providers and the adoption of those services rose dramatically last year.

Los Angeles wasn't as lucky. The entertainment capital suffered the biggest drop, plummeting from No. 11 to No. 27, based on lackluster results in all three categories, particularly in the number of broadband access providers. Close competition makes the tumble look worse than it is. First-place Atlanta is home to 17 broadband providers, while Los Angeles, with only 11, now ranks 25th in access options this year. Houston, Cleveland and Detroit dropped off the list completely, allowing newcomers Denver (No. 17), Indianapolis (No. 24) and Milwaukee (No. 28) to make their debut.

Measuring a city's "wired-ness" is an imperfect science. New York's less-wired outer boroughs weigh down its overall ranking. Some new initiatives aren't yet reflected in the data we used. Several lower-ranked cities, like Philadelphia (No. 26), are building wireless networks that provide wi-fi to downtown areas. In New York, CBS  is constructing hot spots in midtown Manhattan.

More accurate data may be on its way. A "broadband census" bill proposed by Rep. Edward J. Markey (D-Mass.) and passed by the House of Representatives in November asks the FCC to collect more detailed information on the price and speed of broadband service and the number of subscribers in a particular zip code. That could mean a radically different list in 2009.


Let's hope there are extensive WiMAX rollouts in the upcoming years providing consumers worldwide with even more broadband choice. Until then, if you want the best broadband access you should start looking for Atlanta real estate.


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