Editorial: Staying ahead on high-speedIn this newspaper in 1995, about this time of year, there was a story about an exciting new thing called the “internet.” It would allow access to the world, the story says under headlines like “What is the Web?”
In this newspaper in 1995, about this time of year, there was a story about an exciting new thing called the “internet.” It would allow access to the world, the story says under headlines like “What is the Web?” There’s a quote: “I wrote a letter to a friend in France and I got a reply the same day.”
Just 14 years ago, the North Shore was making inroads with “electronic mail” and an “encyclopedia at your fingertips.” It seems hard to believe how fast the internet and computer use has become so ubiquitous. We hardly think of it with wonder any more. It’s become part of the daily fabric more quickly than electricity, phones, and television.
The question today isn’t about how the Web works. It’s about how fast your service is. The internet has become a lifeline for business, the health industry, and in personal communication. Speed gets you ahead of the curve. It keeps you connected with customers, vital information, and friends and family.
That’s why the Lake County initiative to get high-speed broadband strung throughout the county is so important. The plans here surpass speed goals outlined last week by a state task force.
Minnesota is no stranger to demanding that rural areas have the technological advantages of metropolitan areas. In the 1920s, the state led the way in proving that bringing electricity to farms was viable. Electric companies then feared they would never recoup the costs to build a rural grid. There were soon electric co-operatives across the state.
The example set in the state proved a model for President Roosevelt’s Rural Electric Administration in 1935 that brought the technology across the nation.
While it’s nice to see that state gumption again from the broadband task force, too many times we’ve seen businesses leave out our rural areas when it comes to today’s technology. Dead zones remain when it comes to cell phone coverage. Only now are there plans for towers in Finland and Isabella in Lake County.
The slow pace of providing what is now a basic service can’t happen when it comes to internet service. With Lake County’s work on broadband, we can stay ahead of the curve and perhaps prove to internet companies that rural areas are a market.
For some, living near the North Shore is purposefully escapist and there is no call for high-speed internet or a connection at all. But for those who rely on it for business and information, high-speed is as vital as good train lines were in a growing Lake County.
The time for Web wonder is passed. It’s now time to ask “how fast?” and “when?”