A 21st Century Canidate?

16 02 2008

I was doing some reading tonight online and I visited the Obama campaign web site.  I’m still undecided as to who I will vote for 10 months from now but I did take the opportunity to learn a little about Obama.  I’m pretty impressed with his talking points although, in reality, they are not that much different from Clinton’s points.  I think it’s pretty safe to say that Clinton will offer much the same thing her husband did in the 90’s with a few twists.  On a side note, my bias right now is that I would really like to see a woman as our president because I think the white male establishment needs a good swift kick in the ass from a hot headed woman!  What I don’t see from her though is an indication or understanding of the importance of technology or youth culture.  Now whether Obama truly gets it or not is a matter of judgment I think.  I’m sure the creators of his web site are good spinners of his general generic messages.  I was struck however by the amount of time he spent detailing his plans for technology.  If you’ve read this blog much you know that certain things piss me off.  One of them is the lack of choice I have when it comes to technology access out here in red-neck land.  Obama appears to acknowledge this problem and he offers some policy points for consideration.  I’ll post them here and you can read the full list here.

  • Deploy Next-Generation Broadband: Barack Obama believes that America should lead the world in broadband penetration and Internet access. As a country, we have ensured that every American has access to telephone service and electricity, regardless of economic status, and Obama will do likewise for broadband Internet access. Full broadband penetration can enrich democratic discourse, enhance competition, provide economic growth, and bring significant consumer benefits. Moreover, improving our infrastructure will foster competitive markets for Internet access and services that ride on that infrastructure. Obama believes we can get true broadband to every community in America through a combination of reform of the Universal Service Fund, better use of the nation’s wireless spectrum, promotion of next-generation facilities, technologies and applications, and new tax and loan incentives. Specifically, Obama proposes the following policies to restore America’s world leadership in this arena:
    1. Redefine “broadband:” The Federal Communications Commission today defines “broadband” as an astonishingly low 200 kbps. This distorts federal policy and hamstrings efforts to broaden broadband access. Obama will define “broadband” for purposes of national policy at speeds demanded by 21st century business and communications.
    2. Universal Service Reform: Obama will establish a multi-year plan with a date certain to change the Universal Service Fund program from one that supports voice communications to one that supports affordable broadband, with a specific focus on reaching previously un-served communities.
    3. Unleashing the Wireless Spectrum: Obama will confront the entrenched Washington interests that have kept our public airwaves from being maximized for the public’s interest. Obama will demand a review of existing uses of our wireless spectrum. He will create incentives for smarter, more efficient and more imaginative use of government spectrum and new standards for commercial spectrum to bring affordable broadband to rural communities that previously lacked it. He will ensure that we have enough spectrum for police, ambulances and other public safety purposes.
    4. Bringing Broadband to our Schools, Libraries, Households and Hospitals: Obama will recommit America to ensuring that our schools, libraries, households and hospitals have access to next generation broadband networks. He will also make sure that there are adequate training and other supplementary resources to allow every school, library and hospital to take full advantage of the broadband connectivity.
    5. Encourage Public/Private Partnerships: Obama will encourage innovation at the local level through federal support of public/private partnerships that deliver real broadband to communities that currently lack it.

I obviously spend a good deal of time on-line and I am a hard core broadband advocate.  When the “internet was invented” I was in collage and I was able to immediately take advantage of high speed access at school.  At home I had to suffer with dial up access and today many people still have to deal with this ancient technology but I was a very early adopter of high speed cable internet and subscribed even when it cost me over $100 a month to do so!  Even today a MAJOR factor in deciding where I live is whether or not there is access to high speed internet.  If there isn’t, I will not consider living there, end of story.  Dial-up is DEAD.  I knew it then and I know it now.  To do anything online anymore you need to have speed and it should be available to anyone, anywhere in the country.  CHINA is further ahead on their broadband initiatives than we are and they are barely considered a developed nation!  What I’m seeing in Obama’s pledges are a connection to young people and some of the things they expect to have available to them.  As a young person (well mostly) I expect certain things to be available.  I don’t care about cost, I care only about availability.  The internet in many ways keeps people connected.  I expect to be able to move anywhere in the country and still be able to connect with people through use of the internet.  The world has become smaller thanks to the internet and I (and many others) do not think that is a bad thing!

I’ll keep reading about Obama, maybe I’ll even vote for him.  Certainly this issue alone won’t decide what I do but his acknowledgment of something I care about does matter.  Just think, if we didn’t have the internet, would we be able to make fun of dip shits like the owner of this store?

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On Speednet and High Speed Internet Access

28 12 2007

I got a reply on my letter to the editor posted in my blog here regarding my comments on Speednet and was asked to elaborate. I still have not sent that in to the editor yet. Whtch out, this is long. See here and here

I’ve left a comment on the Enterprise Blogs regarding high speed internet and for the sake of new readers, I am looking for a high speed internet solution in Leelanau County. What this county has now is pathetic. In Cleavland Township (only) Centurytel offers DSL. Max download speed is 1.5mps via a DSL connection that works some of the time. Standard is 756kbs for $45 a month (which is very high priced for what you get). From Grelicksville up to Suttons Bay AT&T offers DSL. Again, the max download is 1.5mbs for around the same price but that is only along the M-22 corridor and NOWHERE else because that is where they have upgraded their infrastructure to accommodate DSL. My problem is with the facts above. In a county that comprises a VERY small land area, only 2 places offer access to high speed internet. I happen to live in Cleveland Township, my father does not and thus has to suffer with dial up at the moment. My Aunt lives in Suttons Bay. I want an answer from Leelanau County as to why high speed internet access is elusive in the rest of the county and I want to know what is being done RIGHT NOW to address the issue. Not what is planned for the future, WHAT IS GOING ON RIGHT THIS MINUTE???????

As for the reader who commented, if you work for SpeedNet, I’d like to know what you can do for me. According to your web site my Father’s home is within an acceptable range for your satellite system. I’d love you to email me and tell me how I can get him set up using Speed net. If you’re a dealer, there are at least 4-5 others in the same small area that you might be able to make some money on if you can provide what your web site says you can. 1.5mbs at $35 a month. That’s a freaking deal at the moment and so far better than any of your competitors can offer. I can bet that you make your money by signing up new customers. I’ve got at least 1 lead for you (my father) and perhaps others. I work in sales, leads are important, you might want to jump on this bandwagon.

I am sick and tired of living in what is by every small stretch a wealthy county and yet day after day, I continue to see examples of life in the 18th century! In Cleveland Township, I live in what Charter Communications calls a DIGITAL zone but I’ve had techs out here 4 times and they have YET to to establish a DIGITAL connection on my cable. If I were not giving up on my lease in 6 months, I’d be switching to satellite tomorrow. I am stuck with basic analog cable because none of them can figure out their own technology. Additionally, Centurytel offers DSL up to 7mbs download in many of their markets but yet in Leelanu, I have only 2 options 756kbs or 1.5mbs. Without going out on a limb, this is called corporate fascism.

My interest in Speednet is this: You have a major opportunity to establish high speed internet access throughout this county via your satellite system and you pretty much have a captive market if you can get your hands on it right now. If your web site is accurate, you will be able to provide access to nearly every area which is completely undeserved by existing utilities and you can do so for LESS MONEY then they could ever dream about. You have the opportunity to push them right the fuck out of here. Since the big companies are pretty much laughing at anyone who asks, I’d like to see you come in a push them out just to spite them. They’ve had years to make this technology available and they have FAILED. Those who can’t compete LOOSE. As is obvious, I appreciate competition, I don’t like corporate fascism but when there are no viable options to begin with I will accept a monopoly until someone comes in and does it better than you.

I was asked to elaborate on the 88 foot tower comment, a man in Leelanau is using Speednet’s competition for line of sight satellite out of Petoskey. He paid for it’s construction and for his access because he needs it for his job. What he built is legal according to FCC rules which trump local zoning laws. People living around him are pissed because they have to see this tower. He doesn’t give a shit how he gets his internet access, only that he has to have it and he should not have to move somewhere else to get it. He did what he had to do legally to get what he had to have. Now the county has an opportunity to look at the issue. I have stated that I’m ready to build my 88 foot tower to get what I want since nobody in this county will help me get it and the county is too complacent to bother taking action on zoning to prevent me from doing it. Do you really think that people in this county with expendable money are going to sit on their ass and wait for the county to figure their shit out? I didn’t think so.

Obviously I have opinions and I have absolutely nothing to loose by being as loud and arrogant about them as possible but this county would do well to listen to them. You can not survive on retirees who know nothing about computers and the internet and second home vacationers alone. You must consider those of us who live here all year long and who have grown up with the technology that we can’t get in Leelanau right now. I am 33 years young and I expect more out of the county government that I PAY and out of the companies that do business in this county. The future of this county as a viable economy lies with us and you have the opportunity to make this tourist economy work. You’ve failed so far, are you willing to look at the future or do you want to continue to live in the past??????????? I will galady debate anyone on these issues. I don’t care if you don’t like development and that you want your pretty little county to stay undeveloped. You can not prevent growth and development, It is a reality. You can only guide it so that it is done CORRECTLY and RESPONSIBLY which is my goal. I hope to hell I’m just an uninformed opinionated asshole. If so, FILL ME IN, show me the money, what do you have to offer?





High Speed Internet

16 12 2007

Tonight I’ve written a letter to the editor (which I have not sent in yet) that I wanted to also post on here first. Dad has purchased a new computer and for 2 weeks now we have been trying to get him set up on the internet. He has dial up now but he can only connect at 28,000kbs because the phone lines coming down to the house are so old and out of date. Everything from the pole to the house is brand new, the problem lies with the trash that is coming down from the main road. I’ve been looking into satellite internet provides to try and get him hooked up on high speed but that is very frustrating because I am still unsure what is available and what isn’t. Speednet is looking like it might be the only good option for him. It doesn’t cost any more on a monthly basis than any other typical high speed connection does. The problem though is getting the equipment set up and running. That is the expensive part. Anyhow, researching all that tonight got me going so I wrote the letter below to express my frustration with this backward ass county.

Dear Editor,

 

Regarding the article concerning tall Internet towers in Leelanau County (November 15 Enterprise), I’d like to express my sincere hope that our county officials are indeed addressing the issue of internet access in LeelanauCounty. I moved here 5 years ago after spending 30 years visiting family and friends in Leelanau, now I’ve made Leelanau my home. Year after year, I have watched the county grow up. That is disappointing to some but to others this growing up process has addressed some major needed improvements including a 911 system, natural gas lines, and safe paved roads. It’s taken Leelanau remarkably long to ‘catch up’ considering its close proximity to the more urban area of Traverse City. In any other part of the state, being just 20 miles outside of a city would be considered a suburb, one would expect to have the same amenities as you might find in a city like high speed internet. 20 miles is not very far.

 

 

The fact that our communications utility companies snub residents consistently when we inquire about upgrades to their infrastructure to offer these 21st century services suggests to me that our county officials are not doing enough to persuade those private companies to develop a new market. There are incentives our government can offer these utilities to make their trouble worth their time. Charter and AT&T are by no means under any obligation to provide service of any sort to anyone in Leelanau. They will only do so when it’s profitable to them and when they have an incentive to do so. That is reality, that is business. What we must do as residents of Leelanau is let our officials know what we want. There are many of us who want or need these types of services for business and for pleasure. I am convinced that the reason Leelanau lacks a year around economy is because the technology infrastructure is so weak. I am convinced that there are so few young families here because the tools of the 21st century are not available.

 

 

With the advent of an 88 foot tower now having been legally constructed to solve a problem of access, it presents Leelanau County with an opportunity to really address the problem and correct it. This was an example of a resident doing what needed to be done to resolve a problem our county has been lax in addressing, that of high speed internet access. Our officials should be looking at those companies out there who want to expand their business in this market. Speednet is one such company; certainly AT&T and Charter are options as well. Why should they offer their services in Leelanau? What’s in it for them? More importantly, what’s in it for us? Can we persuade these companies to upgrade their existing technology to provide the enhanced internet service using infrastructure that is already in place or are we all going to construct 88 foot towers that currently lie well beyond the regulatory powers of our county government? The internet has evolved way beyond dial up.In another 5 years, dial-up internet will be a thing of the past. I think it’s important for our county officials to hear that those of us who want these services are indeed willing to pay for them as is evidenced by the construction of what I’m sure was a very costly tower . Technology comes with a price tag; those of us who have grown up with it understand this. Leelanau must keep up with these changes and we as residents must demand that that they keep up with these changes. It is time that Leelanau stop reacting to issues and start recognizing change as it approaches so it can be dealt with head on. I’d like to implore our county officials to address this issue and resolve it sooner rather than later.

 

I’m going to sit on this now for a couple days and then edit it future if needed. Then I’m going to send it off to the Leelanau Enterprise hopefully for publication. I’ve got to shorten it down quite a bit in order to get them to publish it. We’ll see what happens. Stay tuned.