Maine has a broadband problem. It’s been discussed broadly in the local and national media, in events and conferences, and in the Maine State House in Augusta. Multiple studies have shown that our broadband speeds are at or near the bottom of the pack among states, and are far slower than what is available in many third world countries. This deficiency is alarming given the steadily increasing importance of the Internet for our economy.
By now, we all understand that businesses need high speed Internet access to thrive in today’s economy. Businesses communicate with their customers online, use cloud computing to keep their books and maintain customer data, and buy and sell goods over the Internet. The Internet and commerce have become so intertwined that 34% of new commercial jobs created are directly attributable to broadband Internet access.
There is good news for consumers frustrated with the high cost of cable and satellite TV services; in recent months, the list of options for streaming popular programming has grown longer and streaming TV keeps getting easier.
All across the nation, telecommunications companies make decisions about whether or not to ensure the reliability of Internet access in communities based solely on their own profits. We shouldn’t fault them for this. As for-profit enterprises, their first responsibility is to their shareholders; they are obligated to make decisions about the use of capital based upon which investments will yield the biggest return for shareholders.
We’re all familiar with zombies, the undead corpses from post-apocalyptic fiction, video games and Halloween parties. You know they can turn their victims into zombies as well, but did you know that we may have had a digital “zombie apocalypse” in Maine in the past week?
I’m often asked “Which are better, wireless or wired Internet connections?” From a technical perspective, the question doesn’t make much sense. They are complementary, not competitive. As transmission media, fiber and wireless both have unique advantages and disadvantages. In building an Internet network, a design that takes advantage of the strengths and minimizes the weaknesses of both results in the best system.
Economic development is foremost among the reasons communities decide to build broadband networks. This immediately puts communities on different footing from the phone and cable companies when considering broadband projects. Job creation, not profits, are the primary reason communities all across the country are interested in building next generation broadband networks in rural areas where the economics aren’t appealing for commercial projects.
GWI was proud to work with the Town of Rockport, Maine Media Workshops + College and Maine Research and Education Network (part of the UMaine System) to bring ultra-fast fiber optic Internet infrastructure to the Rockport village area. The “High Tech Harbor” project launched in August 2014 and delivers internet up to 100 times faster than a regular broadband connection to homes and businesses nearby.
Yesterday, the FCC announced a ruling in favor of community broadband networks in Chattanooga, Tennessee and Wilson, North Carolina that will have sweeping implications for community broadband networks nationwide. Each of these communities had been restricted from expanding their community owned broadband networks by restrictive state laws inhibiting community investment.
How much email do we send and receive daily? About 183 billion worldwide, if not more, according to an Email Statistics Report. Business email traffic dominates with 100 billion emails sent and received daily, while consumer email accounts are slowly being replaced by social networking communication.