30 Nov Carlini beats drum for high-speed broadband
Milwaukee, Wis. – James Carlini doesn’t mince words when it comes to broadband connectivity.
To Carlini, president of Carlini & Associates and a columnist for WTN Media, moving from dial-up Internet service to DSL is like adding vinyl to the top of a stagecoach. Why bother when there is a Mercedes Benz option in fiber optic cable?
The level of broadband service is an issue most communities are faced with, and in Carlini’s view, municipalities with visionary leadership are entering the fast lane with fiber optic cable in that “last mile” of connectivity.
“If you’re going to get the new jobs in any city, you’re talking about high-speed broadband,” said Carlini, the keynote speaker at a symposium organized by Campaign Neighborhood. “That’s not the future, that’s the present.”
Location, location, and…
Carlini, an advocate of “intelligent buildings” equipped with the most modern technological amenities, said the old real estate mantra “location, location, location” should be replaced with “location, location, connectivity.”
An adjunct professor at Northwestern University, Carlini has been critical of phone companies for their unwillingness to invest in the deployment of fiber optic cable. He said the superior gigabits per second and terabits per second speed enabled by fiber optic cable creates “a whole different realm of connectivity” compared to the slower megabits per second speed of DSL service, which is provided over copper connections.
Municipalities that resist the highest-speed connections will suffer the fate of old St. Louis, Carlini predicted. In the late 19th century, he said the Gateway to the West betrayed its own slogan and placed restrictions on the railroad, only to watch Chicago – which embraced the new mode of transportation – surpass it in population and prestige.
There are parallels between early adopters of the railroad and modern day broadband visionaries, Carlini said, and many of the latter reside in lower-tier cities. While larger cities don’t seem to understand the economic development stakes, cities like Bristol, Va. and Jacksonville, Fla., thanks to their investments in high-speed broadband, have landed major data centers and the thousands of good-paying jobs that come with them. He also marveled at the extent to which foreign countries like South Korea have embraced high-speed broadband.
Such investments aren’t cheap, but they are well worth it because they are market differentiators. “If someone put two data centers in Milwaukee proper,” Carlini said, “that would be front-page news.”
Divided we fall
Carlini offered praise for what he learned about Milwaukee’s new wireless initiative, particularly the “Walled Garden” of free websites and the city’s 18-month deployment, which he characterized as aggressive.
While wireless is good, fiber optic cable is even better, he said, especially if it gets to every house. “The future belongs to the swift and decisive, and it sounds like Milwaukee is moving ahead faster [on wireless] than a lot of municipalities,” Carlini said.
He added one proviso – that every resident have a chance to move ahead with wireless, not just those in select neighborhoods.
Milwaukee residents soon will have a better idea about the city’s plans for digital inclusion. Next week, Mayor Tom Barrett is expected to unveil the details of his digital inclusion program.
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