THE GROFF/ELLISON POLITICAL REPORT

How Fast You Want it, Fam?

Posted in Uncategorized by groffellison on January 28, 2009

images12The Senegalese have a very quick-witted, simple saying that’s been nagging me for many years since I visited the poor West African nation: “You run too fast, you trip.”

Senegal was emblematic – and still is I’m told – of a nation that just chills.  2-3 hour lunches. People may be poor, but they are laid back, and the warm climate compliments the mood.  As one friend put it: “In Senegal, we work to live. In the West, you live to work.” Point taken. Off point, though.

So, fast and trip saying comes to mind when I think about Charter Communications latest announcement unveiling hi-speed broadband that’s even fast than the broadband we’re seeing now.  But, as I’m clicking around on the rather fast, click-before-I-blink-my-eye connection on the home PC, I can’t help but think if this is fast enough.  Writes US News’ Dave LaGesse: “Broadband bragging rights could go to Charter Communications, which is ready to launch a 60 Mbps service. It would apparently be the fastest available to U.S. consumers. No details yet on price or when, or where, the service will appear from the cableco.”

This might seem like a crazy question: is faster really better? But, when considering the $30B proposed for broadband expansion in the recent economic stimulus package passed by the House, one is forced to ask if it’s better sense to focus more on that digital infrastructure enhancement rather than upgrading speed.  True: can’t stop market forces.  Still, there are large portions of the American landscape, particularly in rural America, which have little or no broadband connection.  What would 60 mbps mean to a poor family in Tennessee or Mississippi?

Perhaps we’re getting ahead of ourselves in the desire for speed.  There is a lack of balance between wanting so much speed and the need for sensible progress in technological deployment.  In getting pressed for speed we might not need, just yet, we’re not focused on laying out the platform for future advancements.  We’re like a recent episode of “Fringe” where unsuspecting Internet users have their brains liquified by a murderous digital virus while surfing.  If we don’t slow down and get smart, we’ll definitely end up tripping.

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