You’ve probably heard the common theory that roads were the key to Rome ruling the ancient world. Roads helped migration, commerce, work, and most importantly – armies easily and efficiently move from one place to another. I’m concerned that Indiana doesn’t realize that bandwidth is as important to a thriving economy tomorrow as roads were two thousand years ago.

I attended an Indiana Bandwidth event today in Hendricks County which discussed the future of bandwidth. While the majority of the attendees recognized the importance of connectivity, I honestly feel they are totally underestimating the impact of it on every industry – from technology to farming. It was great to see Scott Fadness, the Mayor of Fishers, share some of the successes that Internet connectivity are already transforming his city.

My client, Lifeline Data Centers, saw this as an issue a decade ago as they took an abandoned shopping mall in Indianapolis and transformed it into the city’s largest data center. It wasn’t just about the structure, it was the location of the mall, with multiple power and data hubs available. They now have connectivity from every carrier in the Midwest. In fact, both Netflix and Google traffic for the entire region travel through their infrastructure. In fact, it’s the reason that I attended the event with fellow techpreneur Frank Leonard who is helping Lifeline.

Two critical advancements are happening that will consume mass amounts of bandwidth:

  1. Verizon is installing 5G in Central Indiana, mobile technology that can handle up to 4 gigabits per second. Compare that today’s 4G which is 1/1000th of that speed. This means rural regions that don’t have fiber connectivity can be easily upgraded to broadband speeds. In fact, it may be the demise of cable and fiber physical connections to the household.
  2. Internet of Things is gobbling up bandwidth. The global Internet of Things (IoT) market is projected to grow from $2.99T in 2014 to $8.9T in 2020, attaining a 19.92% Compound Annual Growth Rate (CAGR). That’s absolutely phenomenal growth. IoT devices are becoming less and less expensive and pushing more and more data.

I reviewed my router tonight for connected devices in my home and I have 26 connected devices – from Amazon Echo, to Smart Televisions, to even my garage door. While I’m a bit of a geek, I don’t believe the average home will be far off from this in the near future. Virtually every electrical device has connectivity nowadays.

Besides the demand of devices, bandwidth today is accomplishing what roads did over the last two millennia. Roads meant commerce. And today, bandwidth means commerce.

Bandwidth replaces the commute to work, bandwidth replaces the commute to customers, bandwidth is the connection people that require products or services and the people that need products or services. On any given week, I’m working remotely from a coffee shop and collaborating with my animation partner in Columbia, my design partner in Romania, my development partner in India, or my client just up the road. And I accomplish it via bandwidth – not by telephone, flights, or roads.

Agriculture is transforming – with IoT devices monitoring and nourishing our food supply. On Dell Luminaries, we interviewed scientists that installed IoT devices on cattle to monitor their biographical signals. They could actually push the herds to different grazing grounds to influence the quality and output of their milk. And modern vegetable farms are collapsing in size – with vertical farming outproducing traditional lands by optimizing light and moisture.

While modern cities are now the center of commerce, bandwidth provides the opportunity to reverse that trend. No longer do workers need to be in cubicles and towers to get work done. Qualified workers with rock solid bandwidth can work from wherever they want to. This could even reduce the demand for more roads and bigger buildings… since people can efficiently move out to the country and still accomplish every thing they need to.

Manufacturing factories can be located anywhere to build and transport their goods – as long as we have great brandwidth for logistical help to transport the goods. Getting greater bandwidth isn’t about Netflix and YouTube, it’s about building an infrastructure that will help us lead the country economically for the next two-thousand years.