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Geoff Daily

App-Rising.com covers the development and adoption of broadband applications, the deployment of and need for broadband networks, and the demands placed on policy to adapt to the revolutionary opportunities made possible by the Internet.

App-Rising.com is written by Geoff Daily, a DC-based technology journalist, broadband activist, marketing consultant, and Internet entrepreneur.

App-Rising.com is supported in part by AT&T;, however all views and opinions expressed herein are solely my own.

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June 26, 2008 7:14 AM

The Need for Violent Agreement

Here's the thing I most took away from Jim Baller's event on Monday:

At one point near the end of his speech, he pronounced with arms lifting above his head and passion filling his voice, that what we need more than anything is the end of petty in-fighting and the beginning of an effort to create "violent agreement" in what our broadband goals should be and the methods to achieve them.

When he said this I had a strong physical reaction, both the urge to nod so vigorously in agreement I risked injury, as well as the tingle one gets when the right combination of message, timing, and opportunity fall into place to give you the sense that now is a time when we can at least attempt to affect real change.

As Baller mentioned in his speech and report, accomplishing big goals in broadband is going to take a tremendous amount of effort, time, money, and political will. Wiring an entire country with fiber, covering everywhere with wireless, and setting in place policies that encourage people to embrace the possibilities of broadband are not simple tasks for a smaller nation let alone one the size of America.

The only possible way we'll ever get anywhere near achieving our goals is by marshaling all of our resources and uniting them towards the common goal of doing what's best for America through broadband.

Yet, we can not ignore the reality that we're a long ways away from anything resembling "violent agreement" on most all of the issues that matter.

You'd think at this point everyone would at least agree that broadband is essential, but that's simply not the case. There are many local, state, and federal officials who don't see that same need or at least the same urgency as national leaders like Baller and Commissioner Copps. Though I don't blame them altogether as for many the issues seem too complicated. They don't know the terms so they can't understand the concepts so it's hard to get on board with the vigor required to constitute "violent agreement." But that's not entirely their fault. So long as they're willing to listen, it's our responsibility to help them understand.

You'd think we might at least be able to unite under the banner of patriotism that our goals should be nothing less than being number 1 in the availability and use of broadband in the world, but there again we're a long ways away from anything resembling "violent agreement." Our incumbent private providers seem satisfied delivering middle-of-the-road speeds and prices, with only Verizon showing any real urgency to deliver the capacity needed to reestablish our position as leaders in the global digital economy. And many others focus too much on the cost and complexity of the work needed to be done and not enough on its promise and necessity.

You'd think at a minimum we could agree on where we're currently at, but in reality here the gap is daunting even if all you're looking for is mild agreement. This is best exemplified by the contrast between the speakers at Baller's event, who lamented where we're at and exhorted the need to move forward urgently to address the situation, and the speakers at NXTcomm, who brushed off the idea that there are problems and that our current international status is untenable.

So we've got a need for violent agreement between everyone to achieve the big goals that a great country like America should be setting for itself, but we've got a reality where we're a long ways away from agreeing on the fact there's a problem, let alone getting everyone headed towards the same solution.

Getting out of this quagmire won't be easy, but it starts by establishing a clear vision for what's possible and then through education and cajoling beginning to increase our ranks of broadband believers who know that the future is now and if we don't get moving we're going to miss out.

And a great place to start this process is Jim Baller's report.

You can find it here, though be sure you set aside an afternoon before sitting down to read it. If you do so you'll be well rewarded as this report is basically a summation of all the research that preceded it, tied together into a coherent picture of where we're at alongside an argument for where we should be going.

Also, if you want to watch video from Monday's event, it's available here.

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Comments (1)

Actually, Geoff, the more meetings I attend in North Carolina, the more time local officials want to devote to a discussion of what they have to do and how much real broadband they need for their businesses and citizens. We can now give them the goal underscored by Jim's and e-NC's White paper and say." North Carolina needs 100 MBPS in four years. Tell your legislators." They've now catalyzed a new passion for this essential change by simply providing a goal. The economy is providing the rest of the push.

Posted by Catharine Rice on June 26, 2008 4:12 PM

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