Why does access to a high-speed connection at home matter?

The Pew Internet and American Life Project just released a report (Broadband: What’s All the Fuss About?) that helps answer the new age question of – what do we need with all of that bandwidth anyways?

In a nutshell they say that broadband links allow people to join the networked society by becoming a publisher – either with a web site, a blog, a profile on a social networking site, or simply by participating in online discussions. Online video is the new up and coming attraction and is already starting to take hold with tools such as YouTube.

It used to be that online publishing and networking was really the realm of young people and techies – well that’s not the case anymore.

I think I finally got DSL at home in 1996. So, I’ve had broadband (OK you can dispute whether DSL is broadband but it sure seemed fast then) for a while. It has certainly made my life better. I have worked at least partially from home pretty much since 1996 and I couldn’t have without broadband. My kids (who came post ’96) knew about the “.com” at an early age and if anyone had a question we went online. (It’s particularly great for weather questions – nothing beats a real tornado video.)

But I have really come to love the social aspects of broadband since we relocated to Dublin – it’s been a lifeline! How much do I love broadband – let me count the ways

Skype – Two cents a minute to talk to my sister in Chicago takes the edge off of being so far away. Friends and parents can still call me from their cell phone (no extra charge to them) with my SkypeIn number – and it’s just like being at home. (We’re going to get the video going too – as soon as I get everyone’s hair cut.)

Blog – We blog about our adventures in Dublin and now no one asks me for photos. Blogs I can do – developing pictures I can’t.

Online video of Legislative Sessions et al – It’s actually better than being there if you ask me. I can pause for breaks and rewind if I miss anything. Also a neighbor kid back home was on the news and I could easily see it online – again better than being there as I could watch it when I had time.

MeetUp – a web site where you can meet people in your area based on interests. It’s been the best way for us to connect with others who are “New and Not so New in Dublin”.

Email, Web, the Usual – I’d say about half of the people I communicate with on a given week do not know that I’m not in Minnesota. They just think I’m an early riser. It’s not that I’m keeping it a secret but it’s easier to work with someone when it’s that seamless.

It’s probably more info than you needed on me – but I think this year that my family is a good example of how flat the world has become due to broadband – and as explained in the Pew Report.

This entry was posted in Broadband Applications, Research by Ann Treacy. Bookmark the permalink.

About Ann Treacy

Librarian who follows rural broadband in MN and good uses of new technology (blandinonbroadband.org), hosts a radio show on MN music (mostlyminnesota.com), supports people experiencing homelessness in Minnesota (elimstrongtowershelters.org) and helps with social justice issues through Women’s March MN.

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