Tuesday, March 24, 2009

Forbes: America's Most Wired Cities

Earlier this year, Forbes.com published one of its rankings again, repeated since 2007. This one: The Top 30 Most-Wired Cities.

In this one, Seattle vaulted to the top spot, helped out by a new criterion: wi-fi spots. While it is never certain what geographical area "Seattle" represents, this is good news, but with some challenging aspects. For instance, the most recent comment to the article scolds the writer for lacking in her research and citing Tacoma as "America's Most Wired City," a long-standing claim.

From a research perspective, we need to examine what these rankings are about. Forbes.com cites as its criteria:
  • % of Internet users with high-speed connections
  • number of companies providing high-speed Internet
  • number of public wireless Internet hot spots

The last criterion is a new wrinkle in the Forbes.com rating mix. And, Forbes.com does give us their resources, even if they aren't publicly available, being proprietary.

Of note is the acknowledgement that Portland and Baltimore may deserve higher rankings due to Clearwire's super-fast wireless Broadband; but data lags (always). That's promising for Tacoma's ranking as Clearwire is busy here too. So we'll see what next year brings, especially with the FCC promise of "considerably more detailed" information on broadband access in coming months.

The comparison must be made with Tacoma's long-standing claim as "America's No. 1 Wired City." That claim is based on number of miles of broadband, stemming from the Click!Network municipal broadband development. That claim was bolstered by the competitive responses of Comcast and Qwest.

So, is Tacoma "America's Most Wired City"? Or do we need to heed the changing metrics of an evolving tech world?

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