Broadband Communities

MAY-JUN 2014

BROADBAND COMMUNITIES is the leading source of information on digital and broadband technologies for buildings and communities. Our editorial aims to accelerate the deployment of Fiber-To-The-Home and Fiber-To-The-Premises.

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MAY/JUNE 2014 | | BROADBAND COMMUNITIES | 53 Davis: Preparing the students and faculty to envision new uses for broadband and getting students to teach digital literacy to others. Padilla: Identifying the applications that will connect our sites. Morrison: Promoting collaboration and learning among the Community Connection sites. Q: How will Austin address low-income areas? Morrison: Te city has a digital inclusion strategic plan. Te residential survey is being updated – we're asking about access to hardware, software, Internet and training. We found that the small fee required to show interest in Google Fiber was a barrier to sign- ups in low-income communities, so a not-for-proft provided cash cards to those who wanted to sign up. UNIVERSITY OF TEXAS AND SETON HEALTHCARE FAMILY Te report on this session was contributed by Rollie Cole, senior fellow of the Sagamore Institute for Policy Research, who moderated the panel. Two of Austin's major institutions, the University of Texas at Austin and the Seton Healthcare Family, have had years of experience with their own high-speed broadband and share data with peer institutions that have similar capabilities. However, the entrance of Google Fiber and the new activity by AT&T and others means that suppliers, employees and many more students or patients will now have access to a gig outside the boundaries of these institutions. Currently, even the use of digital course materials poses difculties for some students, as Sherri Greenberg, director of the Center for Politics and Governance at UT's LBJ School of Public Afairs, pointed out. Each of these institutions thus faces new opportunities and challenges in a soon- to-be-gigafed Austin. Greenberg, along with William C. Green, director of networking and telecommunications at UT Austin, and Michael Minks, CIO of Seton Healthcare, discussed several lessons for the internal operations of those about to become gigabit institutions: • Equipment, especially routers, may need to be upgraded. A fat pipe with a narrow nozzle causes problems. • No amount of bandwidth is ever enough for long (if at all), although the focus of the most intense demand may shift. Both UT Austin and Seton are seeing growth in the number of wireless devices and in the places that people want to use them. • High speed and mobility require rethinking approaches to security. Techniques such as encryption increase in importance relative to those such as limiting authorized users or uses. • Big pipes call attention to problems that might have been overlooked previously. Connecting to peer institutions with comparable speeds highlights gaps in the chain of connectivity that may not have been obvious or problematic before. Te same is likely to happen when connecting with employees, suppliers, students, or patients at the new higher speeds. • Being a gigabit institution has been used to attract employees, suppliers and patients or students. Now a location in a city where employees, suppliers, students, patients and others can also reasonably hope to have a gig themselves will be another feature used for recruitment. Gigafcation will undoubtedly proceed unevenly, the panelists agreed, and because some students, patients, suppliers or others may never become gigafed themselves, the gaps between haves and have-nots could increase. Large institutions could address this through training, education and supporting backhaul for wireless hotspots to extend free or low-cost access to the have-nots. Austin designated 100 institutions to receive free gigabit connections from Google Fiber for 10 years. The list includes schools, libraries and nonprofts such as the Austin Film Society. Robert Wack, City Council President, Westminster, Md.: Westminster has few economic development opportunities – we're landlocked, with no transportation and few tourist attractions. Broadband is our only card to play, and no one is going to do it for us. The economic and regulatory challenges are so signifcant that the only viable strategy is for the city to control it. We're thinking of a fber network as another water system – we build it, we own it, we control the pipes and we get someone else to run it and provide services. Fiber is a durable asset that generates revenue over a long time frame. It doesn't need to break even in fve years; it can take 20 or 30 years. We established a vision of a community network, which made it an easier sell politically. BBC_May14.indd 53 5/29/14 9:17 AM

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