Fast, affordable Internet access for all.
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We have closely followed the efforts of WiredWest, the collaborative project involving 37 (and growing) towns in western Massachusetts. The group is currently collecting pre-subscription cards to show support for the project. The pre-subscription results will also assist efforts to finance the project by documenting the existing demand.
Plans for the 2,000 mile fiber optic network continue to inch forward with every new town that joins the group. Estimated cost for the network is between $60 million and $120 million and, as the cooperative grows, so does the group's ability to successfully apply for grants and issue bonds. Much of the cooperative's business and technical expertise comes from in-kind contributions from its members. We see Wired West as a prime example of communities coming together to take control of their own destiny.
A recent Berkshire Eagle article by Scott Stafford discussed some of the results from a March marketing survey. From the article:
Average survey respondents have two computers (desktop, lap-top or notebook devices) in the home. And while 88 percent currently have some type of home Internet service, 45 percent are dissatisfied with the speed of their Internet.
The survey also showed that 25 percent who responded currently run a business from home or telecommute. An additional 30 percent said they would likely operate a business out of their home or telecommute if they had better Internet access.
He spoke with Monica Webb, Chair of WiredWest's Executive Committee, who pointed out some economic realities:
"Many people are saying they would start a home-based business or telecommute if they had better broadband access," Webb said. "And there are a number of second homeowners that would stay in the county longer, or relocate here full time, if there was better Internet service."
The impact on the regional economy could be significant. Webb described the role of broadband access to the local economy as "fundamental infrastructure," comparable to the telephone service and electricity.
My current interest is moving beyond the 19th century concept of telecom to community owned infrastructure. This would add hundreds of billions of dollars to the US and much more value by creating opportunity for what we can't imagine.Our interview discusses how the Internet is much more than something you connect to via a cable or telephone company. Fundamentally, we should be building networks that allow ubiquitous access to communications, not designing networks around billing relationships. Confused about what that means? Listen to our interview below and read some of his writings. He also talks about community broadband in an interview we previously noted. You can find our other stories that involve him here. We want your feedback and suggestions for the show - please e-mail us or leave a comment below. Also, feel free to suggest other guests, topics, or questions you want us to address. This show is 30 minutes long and can be played below on this page or subscribe via iTunes or via the tool of your choice using this feed. Search for us in iTunes and leave a positive comment! Listen to previous episodes here. You can download the Mp3 file directly from here. Read the transcript of this episode here. Find more episodes in our podcast index. Thanks to Fit and the Conniptions for the music, licensed using Creative Commons.