In reading this morning's paper, I saw an article about something that I have been preaching for the last few years: Broadband Internet Accessibility. See: The Buffalo News: Buffalo News Editorials: Boost Internet access
Those of us that live in urban or suburbia are lucky in that we have access to a range of choices for broadband internet service. This allows us to choose between DSL, Cable and Fiber optic technologies needed to connect our homes and businesses to the internet. It's gotten to the point where we expect this connectivity to do everything from shopping on-line, to banking, to preparing our taxes. In our industry, this also provides the needed connectivity for VoIP service providers like Skype or Vonage.
Unfortunately, there is an un-documented line around the ring of suburbs that surround most cities - the broadband-free zone. Beyond this line you have one choice - Satellite Internet which is very expensive. Because of the distance above the earth that the geo-stationary satellites orbit, satellite broadband has terrible multi-second latency (due to the transit time up to the satellite and back). Satellite internet is fine for surfing and email, but unusable for real-time voice or video conversations. The result - if you live outside the "burb's", no VoIP for you!
But bringing terrestrial broadband to rural users is more than access to on-line shopping and VoIP, it's about access to government, libraries, educational content and on.... The internet is quickly going from a luxury to becoming a necessity, much like electricity did in the 1930's. For those of you that study history, you'll remember the Rural Electrification Act of 1936, that created a means to bring electricity to rural farmers and others that live outside the urban centers. If you travel to other countries (like Mexico), you'll find that to this day, few people that live outside the urban centers have utility-supplied electricity, which puts those people and businesses at a tremendous disadvantage.
It's good to see that our elected officials have woken up on this issue and are starting to develop a strategy for helping rural farmers and others have access to broadband internet. This could give my home state of New York a huge advantage over the long-run - making rural businesses more competitive.
Whether it be stringing more cable, EVDO or WiMax wireless technologies, bringing the internet to the rest of the population will help our industry cut the cord on the legacy TDM infrastructure.