Tuesday, October 26, 2004

Broadband in [Wealthy] Suburbia

The Washington Post article, Broadband in Suburbia illustrates both the promise and the problem of fiber optic networking.

The promise is nicely outlined by the ways in which people are finding to benefit from a speedy broadband connection (and the cable, VOIP and wireless netoworking that will almost inevitably go with it.) From the story:
...their network may fundamentally change the way people think not only about the Internet but also about television and telephone service. Instead of changing channels and getting stuck with whatever is on, viewers in the future may search for shows in the same way they find Web sites.

Some of Brambleton's residents have already found their own television programming online. Zakir Kahn, 30, has used the Internet to download more than two dozen religious movies.

Ashley D. Campolattaro, 33, a stay-at-home mom, the super-fast connection has become more important than her television or telephone. She uses it to schedule play dates for her children and dinners with neighbors and to check references for babysitters. The Internet has become a lifeline for Campolattaro, particularly on days when caring for her two young sons leaves her feeling isolated from the grown-up world.
Of course the problem is that the reporter had to go to a wealthy "designed" community to find such examples because that is where the fiber currently is; and, as the article makes clear, the majority of fiber to be run soon by corporations like Verizon will also be to compact, wealthy locales where the payoff will be quick and lucrative. Unfortunately, it is not only wealthy stay-at-home moms that are isolated by their day-to-day circumstances; lots of not-so-wealthy moms (and their spouses!) feel the same way.

Should BellSouth actually build a fiber network here (not simply talk about it vaugely) they will, without a doubt, run it first to River Ranch. And only maybe and later to the rest of the town. We've got something better going on here. We're damned lucky.

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