Tuesday, January 20, 2015

When are we going to access the fiber line that runs right through Williamstown for faster Greylock region internet?

Is the future economic power for the Greylock region buried beneath our past -- fiber optic cable?
Watch President Obama talk about his muncipal broadband initiative: 
Here's some perspective:

He shows on his presidential  iPad that Tokyo and Hong Kong have 1,000 megabits/second and New York has 500 and San Francisco has 200. 

My standard consumer internet at our house (from Verizon) maxes out at 3 megabits a second. The fast I have ever seen anywhere I've been was at the Clark cafe a couple fo weeks ago -- that was about 50 megabitts/second.   The standard-issue speed that Time Warner sells in this area peaks at about 20 megabitts, and it can be half that or less during the evening when a lot of people are using it. 

So that's have far we have to go.  If Cedar Falls, Iowa, can get 1,000 megabitts, we should be able to in the Greylock Region, shouldn't we?

Years ago, the old MCI Telecommunications (Utlimately MCI became part of either Verizon or ATT, i can't remember which), laid a fiber optic cable all along the Boston & Maine railroad right of way from Boston to Albany -- so it runs right through Williamstown.  If we could accdess that cable, we would have essentially unlimited bandwidth.  That is probably a big challenge economically, because to open up the cable and create a "tap" is probably really expensive and we may not have demand to justify it. But the point is that the bandwidth is available -- it's just a matter of cost and will. 

There is tons of "dark fiber" across America -- fiber optic cables for which we are using a fraction of their capacity.  The reason we have crappy Internet speeds is because we have a duopoly of private interests --- the cable and phone companies -- that can ration the capacity and charge as much as they want -- as long as they each follow prices up.  We don't have real competition among the infrastructure owners.  That's why Obama is right that we have to create public, muncipal competition, or we need to regulate the price of Internet connectivity to bring the price down close to their actual cost of providing it. 

If the Internet and a service economy are part of our future, a first priority of Williamstown's economic-development committee is to push for high-speed broadband so that 21st-century entrepreneurs have the essential tool they need to compete. 


NPR's coverage of Cedar Falls visit:

White House website background: 

Cable firms object:


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