29 Nov Locations must have connectivity to be viable
There are many consultants and consulting firms that use slogans and catchy “buzz-phrases” to capture the media spotlight as well as the inquisitive ear of executive management. “Economic development equals broadband connectivity” (EDEBC) is one of those slogans.
When a slogan or phrase rings true, it stands the test of time. Otherwise, it fades faster than the T-shirts and hats it is printed on.
I believe EDEBC is becoming very proven because future economic viability is going to hinge on connectivity. Consider this from an article titled “Fast broadband breeds boom town”:
• Australia’s poorest and worst-connected areas are being left behind as the gap between the haves and have-nots widens dramatically – particularly with broadband internet access – according to a major nationwide study. The annual State of the Regions report, commissioned by the Australian Local Government Association, has also recommended a shift in road funding from fuel taxes and registration fees to a “user pays” toll-road system for heavy vehicles.
Compiled by top research body National Economics, the report said poor connectivity in regional Australia had meant many regions were unable to attract well-trained workers and new industry, despite lower land costs. The report found that regions with higher concentrations of low-income earners tended to be less appealing to young people and skilled workers.
Are you still not convinced because it is not an example in the United States? In another article, the ability to offer connectivity netted the Bristol, Va. area 1,500 high-paying jobs:
• Two technology companies, CGI-AMS, Inc. and Northrop Grumman Corp., are building data centers in nearby Russell County that will create 1,500 good-paying jobs. They were attracted in part by the availability of OptiNet, an 800-mile fiber-optic network operated by Bristol Virginia Utilities (BVU).
BVU’s reputation for broadband know-how continues to gain respect in Southwest Virginia. In September, two planning district commissions (PDCs) in the region announced that BVU would install 160 miles of fiber-optic cable linking existing broadband networks owned by the PDCs.
Perception is becoming reality
I have been preaching this for years and maybe now more people will be converted. You are NOT going to have a viable economy in any city of any significance unless you have a network infrastructure that is going to support it with broadband connectivity. Just like the writing is on the wall, the cable better be in the conduit.
Traditional moguls in real estate are going to have a huge wake-up call unless their buildings and campuses provide intelligent amenities to prospective tenants and are connected to electronic highways.
Nothing is more embarrassing to someone in real estate than to have their building viewed as a white elephant or, in the case of having inadequate intelligent amenities or connectivity, a good place to create warehouse or storage lockers. Why? Because who will rent office space when it does not provide the right environment to support an organization that is heavily dependent on communications-based information technologies? And how many organizations are not dependent on that in today’s market?
Imagine a Class A building being looked at as a Class B building or worse yet, a building that would be good to store documents in. The opposite can come true as well. A Class B building that somehow has great connectivity all of a sudden becomes in demand and can command higher lease rates.
When to give up the stagecoach
Those who are still counting on copper-based DSL lines to get into the connectivity game are sadly mistaken. The company in Virginia did not tout DSL in order to lure those data centers and 1,500 new jobs to their municipality. Do you think that having DSL is going to make your place any more attractive? Not in today’s competitive market.
How many people, given the choice of plane, rail, buses and personal autos, would opt to go from Chicago to New York by stagecoach? What about New York to Los Angeles? With wooden wheels, wooden bench seats, and rusty springs to provide that “authentic” ride, few of you would last the whole trip. What about a weekly commute?
In the area of transportation of voice, data and video, we have moved several generations away from unshielded copper, which was around in the stagecoach days. Speeds are not equivalent, and if unshielded copper is still in the last mile, you still have that stagecoach and all of its shortcomings on your highway.
It seems strange that smaller cities are viewing this as a critical problem to overcome and are reaping the rewards for their efforts. Do you think Fort Wayne, Ind., with a population of 254,000, could become bigger in 20 or 30 years than Milwaukee, which is at 600,000?
Remember that just after the Civil War, St. Louis had about 22,000 more people than Chicago. In the next 35 years, Chicago grew to over one million, and St. Louis was then less than half of Chicago’s size due to its restricting of new infrastructure – the railroad.
How many cities will make the wrong choices about network infrastructure in this century?
CARLINI-ISM: Location, location, location has to be updated to location, location, connectivity.
Copyright 2006 – James Carlini
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