May 19, 2008; Page A1 By CHRISTOPHER RHOADS, WSJ
CHATTANOOGA, Tenn. — Internet traffic is growing faster than at any time since the boom of the late-1990s. Places like Chattanooga are trying hard not to get stuck in the slow lane.
Some 60 towns and small cities, including Bristol, Va., Barnsville, Minn., and Sallisaw, Okla., have built state-of-the-art fiber networks, capable of speeds many times faster than most existing connections from cable and telecom companies. An additional two dozen municipalities, including Chattanooga, have launched or are considering similar initiatives.
The efforts highlight a battle over Internet policy in the U.S. Once the undisputed leader in the technological revolution, the U.S. now lags a growing number of countries in the speed, cost and availability of high-speed Internet. While cable and telecom companies are spending billions to upgrade their service, they’re focusing their efforts mostly on larger U.S. cities for now.