This week the Marshall Independent started a series of “stories that looks at where Marshall and the area stands when it comes to broadband Internet service, where it could go in the future, and what that future holds for businesses and residents alike.”
Yesterday’s story starts with a definition of where they are today…
A survey of local Internet services shows seven different Internet providers in Marshall, several offering download speeds greater than one Megabit per second (Mbps). A recently-enacted Minnesota law calls for broadband download speeds of 10 Mbps by 2015.
… and looks at the concerted effort it took to get there…
The first steps toward better Internet service in the Marshall area were taken more than 10 years ago, said DeCramer and Marshall Community Services Director Harry Weilage. It took a lot of community education and teamwork to build network infrastructure when the Internet was just starting to gain prominence, they said.
And the efforts have paid off; the area around Marshall (think Windom) is one of the best wired areas in the state. It’s interesting to hear the historical perspective. They didn’t get fiber because they were lucky, they got it because they planned. No accident there. It will be fun to read the rest of the series.
What that did strike me was the impact of the Minnesota Broadband Bill on communities that are currently well poised to be broadband powerhouses – as seen in the first quote from the article. In the spirit of planning ahead – maybe focusing on the 10 Mbps in 2015 isn’t the right goal for them. I think that goal is better reserved for folks who have nothing now. The folks who are doing well should reach higher.
Over the weekend Mike Horwath from ipHouse sent me an article that puts our speed goals in perspective – the title says it all “US happy with 4Mbps baseline; Europe demands 30Mbps for all”. Maybe Marshall needs to follow the European standard – or shoot for the US premium plan of 100 million U.S. homes have affordable access to actual download speeds of at least 100 Mbps and actual upload speeds of at least 50 Mbps by 2020. In some ways I do see Marshall doing just that. Southwest Minnesota received an ARRA grant to boost broadband and I know Marshall is slated for DOCSIS 3.0.
Maybe it’s a good time to take a page from Marshall’s history and go for it!