Last week (or so), Blandin on Broadband blogger Bill Coleman was on WTIP radio as part of a discussion on broadband. (WTIP is based in Cook County.) The conversation also included Danna Asche (Blandin Broadband Strategy Board Member) and Jack McDonald, from Boreal Access (a North Shore ISP).
The radio program is archived online.
The program addresses broadband from the perspective of the general public. So it starts with a discussion of what is broadband and why should we want it.
Danna Asche (Blandin Broadband Strategy Board Member) comes up with three good reasons to want broadband:
- Improve economic diversity (supporting local entrepreneurs but especially attracting new people)
- Increase educational opportunities
- Improve service options for things we already do (phone, TV, health care services…)
It was interesting to hear firsthand how inadequate satellite is – the latency means talking to his grandkids via Skype wasn’t possible and working via VPN also did not work well.
Everyone gave some great example of broadband applications such as remote health care visits, a huge plus from the Gunflint Trail in winter.
I thought I’d track the questions people asked – you’ll have to listen to the program to get the answer. I was very impressed with both the questions and the answers.
- What do we need to get county-wide broadband? How much is it? Who pays?
- Many locals are running businesses from home – what do they use for an Internet connection?
- Is there any other technologies that can be paired with broadband to make it more attractive?
- What is the difference between DSL and broadband?
- If FTTH is the real answer – how realistic is it to get the county to take this on? Can a county control it’s own broadband future or do we need to rely on vendors?
- What’s going on with broadband over power lines?
- How far does the fiber need to be installed? Does the fiber go to Duluth?
- What’s up with the Blandin Foundation Broadband Initiative? (OK I’ll answer this one.)
There are a number of programs that were used to promote broadband use. They were successful and people have learned how to use the Internet to improve their quality of life.
There is a new program with the Open Access Feasibility Fund that offers funds to communities who are interested in calculating the costs and potential revenue to a community-wide network.
Blandin also promotes dialogue with public and private entities to get them to work together to provide broadband and understand a baseline standard.
- What’s a good option for broadband at home? Would satellite be good?
- What’s next for Cook County? How can we move forward?