Connected Nation

Gig City Goes Quantum: preparing for the next wave of education, jobs, business opportunities

April 24, 2023 Jessica Denson Season 4 Episode 11
Connected Nation
Gig City Goes Quantum: preparing for the next wave of education, jobs, business opportunities
Show Notes Transcript

On this episode of Connected Nation, we’re talking about what Albert Einstein called “spooky action at a distance” – quantum physics.
Find out which southern city just went “Quantum;"  how the “science of matter” will likely impact jobs, education, and new business opportunities for us all; AND how you can take part in a unique challenge that will have you easily explaining physics to your neighbors and friends.

Related links:
Press release on event
Qubitekk website -
EPB Chattanooga website -

Jessica Denson, Host (00:07):

This is Connected Nation, an award-winning podcast focused on all things broadband from closing the digital divide to improving your internet speeds. We talk technology topics that impact all of us, our families, and our neighborhoods. On today's podcast, we're talking about what Albert Einstein called Spooky Action at a distance, quantum physics.


Find out which southern city just went quantum, how the science of matter will likely impact jobs, education and new business opportunities for us all, and how you can take part in unique challenge that will have you easily explaining physics to your neighbors and friends. Don't get spooked as we take a look at a whole new world of technology that's already here. I'm Jessica Denson, and this is Connected Nation.


 I'm Jessica Denson. Today my guest are Danna Bailey, chief Communications Officer for Qubitekk. And J.Ed Marston, who is the VP of Strategic Communications for E P B. Welcome, J.Ed and Danna . Hello, Jessica.

Danna Bailey, Qubitekk (01:11):

Hey there.

Jessica Denson, Host (01:11):

Hey there. And as we're preparing for this podcast, I got a explanation of how to say your name, <laugh>, which is Danna , like banana, correct?

Danna Bailey, Qubitekk (01:21):

That's right. It's

Jessica Denson, Host (01:22):

Danna 's banana. I'm gonna try to break my habit of, of Danna <laugh> and, and do Danna like banana. Anyway, I just, I thought that was very, I thought that was humorous and fun. And let our audience in a little bit of that background, <laugh>. Well, let's begin with you. Many people may have not have heard of Qubitekk. Tell us a little bit about what your company is and what your role is with the company.

Danna Bailey, Qubitekk (01:44):

Okay, sure. I'm glad to Qubitekk is a quantum networking company, so we build the hardware and the software that's needed for quantum networks, which many people believe including us, will be at the heart of the next technological revolution. Excuse me, the company was founded by a guy named Dr. Duncan Earl. He's a quantum physicist. He spent almost 20 years at Oak Ridge National Laboratory, and he's, he's an a nationally known pioneer in, in practical quantum applications. The company's been around for about 10 years. And yeah, what else do you wanna know about QuTech? <Laugh>, I'm sure we'll get into what exactly is a quantum network here in a little bit, but what else can I tell you for now? Well,

Jessica Denson, Host (02:33):

I really love the quote that I used in our open for this podcast from po Einstein. It said spooky action at a distance, and that, that the company's really putting that into proc, into products. Can you explain what that means a little bit? Translate that for us.

Danna Bailey, Qubitekk (02:47):

I'll do my best. Now, I am not a quantum physicist, so so bear with me on this <laugh>, but essentially quantum mechanics and the quantum world is the study of things at the very, very tiny, tiny size at the atomic and subatomic level and why Einstein referred to it as spooky. The nature of quantum systems is the fact that there are phenomena in quantum that are really counterintuitive to what we experience in the classical world. So, for example, there's something called quantum entanglement in which two particles can have identical properties. They can behave identically even if they're very far apart from each other. In fact, the, the 2022 Nobel Prize was given to three physicists for their work on entanglement. But there are various phenomenon within quantum mechanics that are just counterintuitive to classical, to the classical universe that we all live in. So that's really where that, that spooky word came from.

Jessica Denson, Host (03:53):

And how do you really apply something like physics to products? Is it, it helps how they work, it changes how they work, or, or, I know you're not a qu <laugh> as you said, you're not a physicist, but in, in layman's terms, how would you describe that? Or how would one of your phy physicists describe it to you, do you think?

Danna Bailey, Qubitekk (04:12):

<Laugh>, if you think about classical computing and the internet that we all use today and the computers that we all use today, the standard unit of measure for those devices is a bit, so we talk about megabits and tets and gigabits. If you look at the quantum world, the unit of measure is a qubit. And a qubit can hold exponentially more data than a bit can hold. So what that means is that problems that are buried data intensive and could take years and years to solve, even by the largest, most powerful supercomputers in the country. In theory, once quantum comu computers have reached maturity, quantum computers will be able to solve those problems much, much more quickly. And that has implications in lots of different, lots of different categories. If you think about healthcare, for example, and pharmaceuticals and drug development right now, it could cost, I'm making these numbers up, but they're probably relatively accurate.


It could cost a billion dollars and take 10 years to bring a new drug to market because of all of the data crunching that has to be done with that. When quantum computers reach maturity, that time to market and cost could be exponentially decreased. Quantum technology and quantum mechanics have already brought us things that we use every day that people might not think of. One example is the atomic clock which is the heartbeat of global positioning system of GP s that we all use every day. MRI scans have a quantum component in them lasers, which we use of course to entertain cats <laugh>.

Jessica Denson, Host (05:57):

So I definitely do <laugh>.

Danna Bailey, Qubitekk (06:01):

So, so anyway, the, the quantum is already part of our lives, even though we don't necessarily know it, but there's so much research and development happening in quantum right now that it stands to be a much, much greater part of our lives in the future.

Jessica Denson, Host (06:14):

And, and before I get to J.Ed and what he's doing with E P B and this partnership tell me Qubitekk, is that how it got its name?

Danna Bailey, Qubitekk (06:23):

Yes. So Qubitekk, exactly right. So since that measure that unit of measure for quantum is a qubit, the company's name is Qubitekk. So building technology around qubits,

Jessica Denson, Host (06:36):

I love it and I love the laser comparison for my two cats. Would love, would love that to know that I'm gonna let them know I'm a physicist now. Yeah, just let 'em know. <Laugh> and, and J.Ed as VP of strategic communications for E P b, I want you to, to go a little bit into what E P B is and then how you're working closely with Danna and her company.

J.Ed Marston, EPB Chattanooga (07:00):

Certainly. So E P B is kind of interesting because we're a MUN municipal electric company. So we basically provide electric services to the Chattanooga area. And that is pretty much all we did from about 1939 until about 2009. And at that time we began building out a fiber optic network across our whole community. And we used that to launch America's first gig speed internet service that was UBI ubiquitously available to all customers in our service area. So we actually beat Google Fiber by four years in terms of being the first to launch the gig. And we also utilized that same fiber optic communication system that, that massively fast network to deploy one of America's most advanced smart grid power distribution systems.

Jessica Denson, Host (07:54):

And J.Ed, you guys got a lot of accolades when that happened, right? There was a lot, there were a lot of people that were looking at Chattanoogan how you did that. Am am I correct?

J.Ed Marston, EPB Chattanooga (08:01):

You you are correct. We really, in doing this, established a a new business model that allowed us to, you know, provide these world-class internet services as a local company and also the, the smart grid, although that's kind of the un unsung hero, it's been incredibly powerful for our community. It's allowed us, we already had a great record in terms of resilience but we've been able to reduce our, our power outages for customers by as much as 55% per year. So that's a really great result. A study that was done over the first 10 years of impact showed that we were able to produce about 2.7 billion with a b dollars in community value for our, our community. So that's not money that came to, to E P B, it's a reflection of the value that we've been able to deliver for our, our community as a result of, of this infrastructure. And it includes everything from about 10,000 jobs to the power reductions I mentioned to a universally available internet service at no charge to all students in need in our public schools in Hamilton County.

Jessica Denson, Host (09:11):

And when did your company really think, you know, like, we've done this now, let's go to the next big thing. When was, well, and we'll get into this gig City goes quantum in a moment, but what, what is really going on with the great minds in E P B and working with Qubitekk, or I'm gonna, I'm gonna butcher that name, I'm trying not to <laugh> Cuba. How are you guys working together and what's it like to be around, cuz I know you both are in comms, so what's it like to be around these physicists with these great minds and these engineers who understand fiber and understand quantum and understand these different ideas? How do you really bring those cool things to the public and make them understand why this matters?

J.Ed Marston, EPB Chattanooga (09:55):

Sure. So to, to answer your first question we, because of this super advanced infrastructure that we've deployed here in Chattanooga we were named a US Department of Energy Living Lab back in 2014. And essentially what that meant is that we began to partner with Oak Ridge National Laboratory and other national research institutes to be the place where they're deploying some cutting edge technologies and also developing and modeling best practices. And the idea is do it here first, make sure it works, figure it out, and then deploy it, you know, across the country. And in that spirit, we participated in a project starting in 2015 where we partnered with Qubitekk and Oak Ridge National Laboratory to work on the development of a new cybersecurity protocol, a quantum cybersecurity protocol. And what they needed to test, it was basically fiber optic network.


 So we deployed a, a fiber optic test bed and worked with Qubitekk and Oak Ridge National Laboratory to, you know, provide the fiber optic test environment that they did. And as a result of that work, very unusually, E P b joined these, you know national level researchers in winning an r and d 100 award in 2021 for the, the progress that was made in, in that cybersecurity technology. Building off that we, we developed a lot of expertise in how to create these fiber optic networks specifically for quantum use. And so we talked it with Qubitekk and they said, we can do something really extraordinary. Here's something that's needed nationally to, to help the quantum industry progress. And we decided to establish E P B Quantum Network with Qubitekk as our primary partner for the the, the, the Quantum Network portion of it.

Jessica Denson, Host (11:55):

Do you, do you have a lot of people from other parts of the country or even around the world that are coming to you guys and asking, how are you doing this?

J.Ed Marston, EPB Chattanooga (12:04):

So, it's funny you should say that because after we first deployed the Fiber Optic Network and launched the gig we had people coming in from all over the world. I think at last count we had over over a hundred different countries had sent delegations to Chattanooga to learn more about what we were doing. We're still early days in the, in the, in the quantum world. So we have not had a lot of delegations from other communities yet, but we were able to host the Q E D C, that's the Quantum Economic Development Consortium for their annual meeting just about a month ago. And they brought in some of the leading tech companies and startups that are in the quantum space to come tour E P B Quantum Network and learn more about what we were doing. So yes, we are able to attract people for nationally and internationally in some cases for the things that we're doing.

Jessica Denson, Host (13:03):

Yeah, I bet that just doing something so fantastic, you know, at Connect Nation, we really believe that everybody should have access to these technologies. And so to see that at Chattanooga and, you know, it's not necessarily the place that you'd think that would happen, you'd think it would sometimes be in a, a bigger city or you know one of the east Coast or West coast cities like LA or New York City or even Dallas, but we're seeing it in Chattanooga, I think is fantastic and just goes against people's preconceived notions of a southern city, which I think is fantastic. And I'm just putting in, I'm pontificating of course, but I'm sure, have you, have you heard some of that, like, wow, it's happening here in Chattanooga,

J.Ed Marston, EPB Chattanooga (13:44):

<Laugh>? Yeah, you know, one of, one of the funny things after we launched the Gig network and we actually got a New York Times story about that, but we were calling on big tech companies for several years and they would be saying, no, you, you didn't actually do that. They, they literally didn't believe us <laugh>. We've thankfully built up a reputation over the years, so people are not doubting what we have done in this case. But yeah, it is, it is interesting, and I will say it may seem strange to many people that this would be happening in a mid-size southern city, but that's actually been a huge advantage. We're able to gather our, our top leaders, they all know each other. They, they, they're on each other's speed dial. And we're able to really collaborate, you know, across the mayor, the county our top universities and colleges, bring them all together sometimes in the same room and just very quickly decide to do things and get them done.

Jessica Denson, Host (14:40):

I think that's fantastic. And for the record, for full disclosure, I'm actually in a southern city too. I'm in Louisville, Kentucky, <laugh>, there

J.Ed Marston, EPB Chattanooga (14:46):

You go.

Jessica Denson, Host (14:47):

See, and I was born and raised a southern girl, so, but I I love that it's being done in Chattanooga. I think it's fantastic. Before we get into what you guys are partnering about does any of this have to do with, you know, there's trends. People start talking about specific technologies, and right now AI is a big talking point. Is any of this have to do with Google AI or that chat beat G P T G P T that we're seeing? Any of that kind of thing?

J.Ed Marston, EPB Chattanooga (15:18):

So not directly. But this is the kind of thing that we that will allow AI to really go to the next level. So as cool as chat, G P T is, it's essentially a, a predictive algorithm for what the next words are likely to be. It patterns off of existing language. It is not something that can be creative or bring new things to light. And Quantum allows for a kind of simultaneous processing that really could allow us to create a next level of, of artificial intelligence.

Jessica Denson, Host (15:56):

Yeah, I think it sounds so cool. Were you to add something, Danna ?

Danna Bailey, Qubitekk (15:59):

Yeah. actually I'm glad that you mentioned the ar you had the AI question. So to build on what J.Ed was saying one of the modules in Gig City goes Quantum on the website actually helps learners understand the limitations of classical computing as it relates to AI and how quantum computing could unlock new possibilities relative specifically to ai. So

Jessica Denson, Host (16:27):

That's awesome. I, so let's get into that then. Danna , since we have you what kind of companies do you, does Qubitekk generally partner with and work with? Is it, is it only government agencies or is it all across the board?

Danna Bailey, Qubitekk (16:44):

It's across the board. We, we do work with communications providers like E P B and other large companies that wanna prepare themselves for the coming quantum ecology. And, and they wanna implement their own quantum networks. We also do work with government agencies and government contractors, as you would imagine. Yeah.

Jessica Denson, Host (17:05):

And what would Dr, what draws you to a particular partner? Is it just that they're looking to get into Quantum or is it a, a wide range of things? Is that what you mostly work on? Is, is quantum networking with, with these different groups?

Danna Bailey, Qubitekk (17:21):

Yeah, quantum Networking is a big piece of, of what we work on. We also do work with different organizations on security applications. So Quantum, one of the near term, actually not near term term, but in place today applications for Quantum is unhackable Cybersecurity. So there are a lot of organizations out there that, that is very important too. And so that's a natural fit in many cases.

Jessica Denson, Host (17:49):

Yeah, I think there would be a lot of people, it's important to <laugh>. Please make my phone unhackable in my, in my computer <laugh>. Okay. So well let's bring us to the main topic of the day at this recording. My understanding is you just launched Gig Citigo Quantum just a few days ago. It's a partnership between E P B of Chattanooga and Qubitekk, and they're working with organizations across their community to bring attention to the quantum technology sector. Explain J.Ed what Gig City Goes Quantum is all about.

J.Ed Marston, EPB Chattanooga (18:21):

So, you know, it's one thing to have a a a a network asset as we do with E P B Quantum Network and it's world class, it's the first in the country, but you can't take technology and leave it on its own. You have to activate it through human interaction. And that's something that we've been specializing in since we were the first to launch the gig. So what E p b Quantum, excuse me, what Gig City Goes Quantum is all about, is basically recognizing that you cannot build a a new quantum industry sector unless you're also educating people preparing them for the workforce and also providing business support for the, the companies that we're hoping to attract. So really what Gig City goes Quantum is a collaborative effort and it involves about 20 local and national organizations that have come together basically to support the build out of a quantum ecology here in Chattanooga.


So just to put that concretely we are engaging with Hamilton County Public Schools, our local public school system to share curriculum and other learning activities for the teachers to share with students to get them interested in Quantum. And then we're working with Chattanooga State and the University of Tennessee at Chattanooga to engage the, the technical college and university level students in preparing for jobs in the quantum industry. And we are also have partnered with CoLab, which is a local accelerator business accelerator to provide business support as companies look at Chattanooga as a place to, you know, utilize the network and potentially invest. So the goal basically is to prepare the people of, of our, of our area for jobs in this sector and to, and Indu. And so doing, create the kind of economic activity that will benefit the companies that are operating in the sector and encourage them to to choose Chattanooga as a location for what they're doing.

Jessica Denson, Host (20:25):

And how do they go to that? Is it, there's a website correct. Where people can go and find all these learning activities and educational

J.Ed Marston, EPB Chattanooga (20:31):

Stuff that is, that is correct. It's called gig city ghost And everybody is, is welcome to go there. They'll find a number of videos that we've produced over the last week, starting on World Quantum Day April the 14th. We also have the recordings of those sessions up as well as a number of learning activities. And actually, I wanna defer to Danna to talk about that. She, she was the ring leader and organizer of a lot of, of of those resources.

Jessica Denson, Host (21:03):

Yeah. You already mentioned the AI module. What are some other great things that people can learn, Danna ?

Danna Bailey, Qubitekk (21:09):

Well, in addition to the videos that J.Ed referenced in the AI module, there's also there are modules for very early quantum learners including one that includes an exercise where the learners actually simulate another quantum principle called super position by making a thema trope. That's a card with a different image on each side, you know, so when you twirl it really quickly, it appears as if the images are combined. So actually, you know, a, a kindergartner can make this device using paper and glue and, and tape and simulate this, this quantum principle. So they really range from, I'll admit, we had a a, there was a, a quantum physicist from a company called Xero's Quantum who came and spoke yesterday at University of Tennessee Chattanooga. And I went to the, the lecture and I tried really, really hard to keep up, but it was over my head.


So there are activities for kindergartners and there are activities for people who are much more educated than I am relative to the different components of Quantum. And, and we also, in addition to having the content that's been curated and developed by people locally there is a link also to another resource that is a national resource that's powered by an organization called the National Q 12 Education Partnership. And it's got a lot more content on it. So it really, there's so many different ways and opportunities for people to dip their toe into quantum and learn from the very, very basic level all the way up to physicist type levels. And, and now's the time to do it cuz we're just at the beginning of this what many people believe is the next technological revolution, which is quantum.

Jessica Denson, Host (23:03):

Yeah. There's J.Ed mentioned it a little bit, but there's, there's a lot of what I read in prep in preparing for this. So there's a lot about workforce preparation and the business support for emerging quantum technologies. Mm-Hmm. <affirmative> what are some things we need to be looking at now for the workforce? Is it these types of educational things or is it something more?

Danna Bailey, Qubitekk (23:23):

I really think it's probably, it's two things happening at once. One and this is the initial effort with Gig City goes Quantum, and that is getting people interested in it and just hoping, you know, that's one of the things we aim to do, is to get other people as excited about the possibilities and the opportunities that are being presented with Quantum. And since we are at the very beginning, we don't really know yet exactly what all the different kinds of skills will be needed in the coming quantum age. We know we'll need physicists, we know we'll need engineers, we know we'll need software engineers and we know that we'll also need like a Qubitekk today, we have a few people who actually fabricate the equip the equipment that we sell. So people who are actually making the equipment. It's, we, we don't sell enough of it to be an assembly line type thing yet, but we will need people who can help with advanced manufacturing and fabrication. So as this ecosystem continues to mature, it will become clearer exactly what kinds of things we need. But for today, I think the real value is in more people starting to think about it, learning what they can, and then when it does ma become mature, we'll all know where we best plug in

Jessica Denson, Host (24:44):

That. It's really interesting cuz I, I find it fascinating how technology change can move so much quickly, you know, so much more quickly than a life did, you know, a century ago because of technology shifting. And there's probably gonna be jobs that neither of us, none of us, any one of us have any idea are gonna be called or what they're gonna do or anything based on that technology. It's just, it's fascinating to think about what could be about kid who is five years old now having a job that none of us have even imagined. Exactly. Yeah. <Laugh>. J.Ed, you talked a little bit already about e p b Smart City infrastructure and you know, you know, the gig, the 25 gigs and now going to Quantum. Would you like to expand a little bit more on what that means for the city itself and the people that live there? And also why is there so much focus on tech and innovation in Chattanooga? Why, why do you think that is?

J.Ed Marston, EPB Chattanooga (25:43):

Oh, well, a couple things, and I should say, I don't know that I exactly did mention the 25 gig, but one of the things that's kind of extraordinary about what's happening in Chattanooga is very often people put infrastructure in the ground and as long as they can ring some money out of it, they just continue to use what they have. But we've really taken a d different approach, D P B and in Chattanooga, we decided we wanna stay on the cutting edge. We want to be a leader. So just about 10 years after the initial deployment, we began a new round of infrastructure upgrades going from the core all the way to the technology on, on the side of people's homes. And as a result of that, we were able to become the first community to launch a 25 gig internet service just this past August and make that accessible across our whole community-wide network.


 Now that's not something that everybody needs right now. Our first customer, in fact, is the convention center where they may have thousands of people using devices at the same time. So that kind of bandwidth is very useful. But when we launched the gig people were saying nobody's ever gonna need that. And now very often people have, you know, many streaming devices in their home operating simultaneously. We learned during Covid V what a great thing it was. If everybody could be remote working and remote learning at the same time. And from our perspective, that's, that's what e p B Quantum Network is also about. Right now this is very cutting edge. There are not necessarily applications for everyday people but we have learned from experience that when we, we take a lead that puts our community on the cutting edge of things that are about to happen.


 And I I really think one of the applications that is more closer to attainment, the first one is the one that Danna was talking about, that cybersecurity quantum cybersecurity I think is gonna be very important. If we don't get to Quantum Cybersecurity first we as a country have to be very concerned about other nationalities utilizing quantum hacking techniques. So that one is really important, really key. On the broader level, I think one of the applications that we're gonna see for Quantum in the near future is, is the kind of problem solving that could, for example, optimize traffic across a whole community. And it just so happens we are the home of the Center for Urban Informatics and Progress, horrible name. But what it, what it's about, it is a group of researchers at the University of Tennessee at Chattanooga that are basically utilizing our fiber optic infrastructure and they have added an assortment of sensors and other technologies to create a smart corridor.


And they are studying how traffic works in the real world. And they are also then utilizing what they're learning from that to start making recommendations for, for optimizing and improving traffic. This is over about a mile long corridor. They're in the process of building out this kind of system across all of ep b's, downtown area. So that's gonna be a really exciting development when it happens. And I think when you marry that kind of technology up with something like quantum processing and quantum networking, you start to have what we've all dreamed of, right? Is not having to be sitting at a red light at 3:00 AM Yes. You know, for no good reason. Or, you know rush hours where we have some kind of mechanism such that people know better than to all pour out on the highway exactly the same time and sit there glaring at each other for an hour.

Jessica Denson, Host (29:27):

<Laugh>. Yeah. I mean that is, that is technology making our lives better. You know, no one wants to sit in that traffic jam, as you said. And what was the name of that company that's doing in the traffic?

J.Ed Marston, EPB Chattanooga (29:41):

Sure. It's called the Center for Urban Informatics and Progress.

Jessica Denson, Host (29:46):

Oh, you, you got Easton Chattanooga. You wanna trip me up with these names, don't you? Sorry, <laugh>. It's

J.Ed Marston, EPB Chattanooga (29:52):

Like you had it made when you were able to pronounce Chattanooga, but No, no, we, we have more things in store for you, <laugh>.

Jessica Denson, Host (29:59):

So why do you think there is so much focus on tech and innovation there?

J.Ed Marston, EPB Chattanooga (30:05):

I really think it has become a part of our culture. I think, I think everybody is focused on technology, but part of what makes Chattanooga special is that we're able to bring the people side together with that focus on technology. I don't know if that makes sense, but, you know, it's one thing to have a great technology, but if if people aren't engaged in using it, then it's kind of pointless. And I think that's part of what Chattanooga has really solved, how we can collaborate across different kinds of entities, government, private sector and how we can deploy technologies in a way that is useful for human beings in the real world.

Jessica Denson, Host (30:49):

I think that is actually, it makes a lot of sense. And isn't that why, you know, STEM has really moved to steam with the arts being involved in creativity, being involved and not just having math and science?

J.Ed Marston, EPB Chattanooga (31:04):

You are speaking my language and <laugh> Me too. Oh, one of the, the points that that I wanted to make sure we made on the workforce preparation side is, even though these are quantum technologies, we're not looking for everybody to be a quantum physicist. There's gonna be lots of different kinds of jobs. There's gonna be, you know, marketing jobs, there are gonna be jobs in manufacturing these new technologies they're gonna be a wide range of jobs. So this isn't just a situation where you know, people that can understand the math of quantum physics are, are going to have lots of opportunities. It's gonna be kind of like the internet or computers. Lots of us who are not necessarily straight up and down computer experts or networking experts have benefited economically by the, the opportunities that have been created.

Danna Bailey, Qubitekk (31:49):

Well, and to build on that a little bit, if you think about the internet, when the internet first became a thing, people were thinking about it in terms of technologists, coders, engineers, those kinds of folks. But as the internet has matured, we've needed ethicists, we've needed sociologists, we've needed people to help us figure out how do we navigate as a society around new capabilities that have the capa have the possibility of doing harm. Un they weren't developed to do harm, but they could do harm. So what are the guardrails that need to be developed for the new quantum age so that we make sure that we're doing the best we can for good. So kind of back to that point that I, I don't even know if we know all the jobs that are gonna be needed, but we do believe that the implications will be such that it will be vast and broad.

Jessica Denson, Host (32:43):

And, and since you have the floor for a moment Danna , why do you think there's such a draw to Chattanooga for technology and innovation right now?

Danna Bailey, Qubitekk (32:53):

You know, I was, I was thinking about that when you and J.Ed were talking earlier, and, and I, I think that it, some of it goes back. I agree with everything J.Ed said, but I think that some of it also goes back to what we talked about way early on in the conversation, which is a mid-size southern town. I think that it is about the way people in Chattanooga work together. The Chattanooga is a very collaborative community, and for decades, people in Chattanooga have been working together to figure out how to capitalize on opportunities. So I think that that's ripe for taking advantage of technology opportunities in front of us.

Jessica Denson, Host (33:31):

You know, we talk about that a lot at Connect Nation, the importance of partnering and that, you know, sometimes it is easier in a smaller city or a a, a place where there's a little more community build just because of the, the, there are the huge numbers of people to, to talk to each other and come across and, and partner. So I, I understand exactly what you're both saying. One little curve ball I wanna throw you before I give you guys a chance to, before we wrap up, you know, at Connected Nation we really believe in, we have a mission to connect all people to technology. How detrimental is it for a family or an individual to not have access to internet now? And what do you each see that the importance is of bringing that technology and putting it in the hands of more people?

J.Ed Marston, EPB Chattanooga (34:28):

You wanna go first in or shall I?

Danna Bailey, Qubitekk (34:30):

Well, I can, I can give it a whirl. I think it's if, if, if, if the last three years have shown us nothing they have shown us that finding non-traditional ways to stay connected is critical to to education, to business, to the economy, to mental health, to, to everything. I know that, and I'm sure ep I'm sure that J.Ed will speak to eep B'S work in getting more people in Chattanooga connected during the pandemic. But it, it's, it's become, in, in my opinion, it's as critical as, as access to transportation. It is transportation in a lot of ways. So I, I don't know how a a family or a person can, can thrive without access to the internet, just period.

J.Ed Marston, EPB Chattanooga (35:27):

Yeah, I, I would really agree with that. I think that's very well said, and I'll just, I'll just elaborate and build on it a little bit. We really see internet as a, a critical utility. I think for a long time people thought of it as nice to have, or, you know, something for entertainment. But think about this today. How do you find job opportunities? How do you apply for job opportunities with the internet? An adult learner can take classes from world class experts located all over the world and prepare themselves for the next thing. Without the internet, people really are locked into a situation where they can't take advantage of the opportunities. They don't have the basic information that o other people have. And then when you add to that, the fact that we saw such a shift with the, with the, the recent pandemic as Danna said, and what we saw in Chattanooga, because we have a fiber optics everywhere, when it was necessary for people to go home, not only were we able to increase the bandwidth to the, the large companies that were now trying to serve up cloud-based services and central computing services to homes all over where their employees were working, they were also able to turn up the bandwidth for the co for the employees that were working remotely.


So it really is a situation where it's not enough to be able to have a lot of bandwidth for a big business or a central location. The ability to have bandwidth everywhere has become super important. And that's why we were very fortunate and, and very proud to partner with Hamilton County Schools and other partners to launch what we call H C s Ed Connect. And in Chattanooga and the Hamilton County area, that's our school system any child who qualifies for assistance also qualifies for internet high bandwidth internet at no charge. And we have actually made that program a lasting solution. So even though, you know, the pandemic is over and everybody's back in person we still continue to provide that, that service at no charge. And as of today, that serves about 28,000 people, including the students and their families. And when you think about how even healthcare and telehealth have become such more of a normal thing, a standard part of, of access to healthcare in our country, you know, it really is a situation where we're talking about learning, earning health and living have become highly connected to the ability to have high speed broadband.

Jessica Denson, Host (38:09):

I definitely applaud that, and I think everybody at Connect Nation would echo that. There's this thing called the homework gap, which was an issue before the pandemic, and it continues to be where kids didn't have the same access at home as they did at school. So I, I love to hear what you guys are doing there in Chattanooga. Okay. I, I can't keep you all day despite the fact that this fascinates me, this topic. But tell me from point of view, what do you each think is next in quantum technology? And we'll start with you, J.Ed.

J.Ed Marston, EPB Chattanooga (38:42):

That is a good question. I, I think, I think early days the, the cybersecurity is the big piece. And I'm also very hopefully that the that the traffic stuff I mentioned gets early early access,

Danna Bailey, Qubitekk (38:57):

Because J.Ed does not want to hang out at that traffic light at 3:00 AM

Jessica Denson, Host (39:03):


Danna Bailey, Qubitekk (39:03):

Cause he's out and about all night

Jessica Denson, Host (39:06):


J.Ed Marston, EPB Chattanooga (39:07):

I I'm not out and about all night, but I do start early. So that is a personal experience.

Danna Bailey, Qubitekk (39:11):

Nah, there you go.

Jessica Denson, Host (39:14):

What about you, Danna ? What do you think?

Danna Bailey, Qubitekk (39:16):

Well, I was actually, we, J.Ed and I both went to a conference in DC last year called the Quantum World Congress. And I was listening to a speaker, might have been the keynote, or who said, there are no profits in quantum <laugh>.

J.Ed Marston, EPB Chattanooga (39:31):

And I thought

Danna Bailey, Qubitekk (39:32):

That really checks out. You know, no one really knows what the future's gonna hold, but I, I do think in addition to the two points that Jeb was making, some, some early applications that, that appear to, to be ready to get some traction are some, some climate science work the artificial intelligence work that we were just talking about, pharmaceutical development. And yeah, and, and it's really just getting started, but there's, there's no profits in quantum. We're gonna have to wait and see what comes.

Jessica Denson, Host (40:05):

That's fascinating. It's, it's just so interesting. Okay. Well how about you each tell us why our audience should take part in this gig City goes Quantum and why they would benefit from it? And Danna , since you already have the floor, we'll start with you and J.Ed, you can give us our parting thought for the day.

J.Ed Marston, EPB Chattanooga (40:26):

Thank you.

Danna Bailey, Qubitekk (40:27):

Okay. So I, I think why wouldn't you wanna be part of the next revolution of the next technological revolution? We're at the beginning of this quantum age today. It's the perfect time to get involved, see what you can learn, and see where you can fit in for what I think is coming in the next 10 to 15 years.

Jessica Denson, Host (40:50):

J.Ed, you're up

J.Ed Marston, EPB Chattanooga (40:52):

<Laugh>. I think that's a fantastic answer. I, I think I'm gonna add to that by saying it's fascinating. As soon as you start to read about this stuff and how it works and try to grapple with how strange it is, it's just really interesting. And then when you add to that, as Danna said, the, the implications of what this could mean, the kinds of solutions that this could provide it really represents a paradigm shift that's just e exci as exciting and perhaps more powerful than what we experienced with the advent of the internet.

Jessica Denson, Host (41:28):

Fantastic. Let's leave it there. I, I really appreciate you both. I feel a little bit more intelligent than, or like, I'm a little more worldly than I was maybe <laugh> when we first started talking. So thank you both.

Danna Bailey, Qubitekk (41:41):

Well, thank you. Thank you. I enjoyed it. It was fun.

Jessica Denson, Host (41:43):

Yeah, it was a lot of fun. Again, we've been talking with Danna Bailey, chief Communications Officer of Qubitekk m J.Ed Marston, who is EB P'S VP of Strategic Communications. To take part in this effort, head to Gig City goes, or you could see the link in the description of this podcast. I'm Jessica Denson. Thanks for listening to Connect A Nation. If you'd like to know more about us or our show, head to connect to or look for the latest episodes on iTunes, iHeartRadio, Google Podcast, Pandora, or Spotify.