Future brighter with better bandwidth
By NORRIS PALMER
Journal of the San Juans Correspondent
September 7, 2012 · Updated 4:40 PM
By Norris Palmer
Here is the Broadband Initiative as I see it:
There will be several “sticks” that will appear across the island, from 60 feet to 100 feet in height, and below the tree line with a little cone on the top sitting on existing poles or power easements. These poles will be connected together at strategic points across the islands. They will emit extremely low power radio waves that will connect you to OPALCO’s already existing fiber optic lines that connect to the mainland’s millions of high speed lines.
If you don’t know what a fiber optic line is, it basically uses light to transmit streams of digital ones and zero combinations, much like the old telegraph, except it moves at the speed of light and can carry more information than any existing pipeline. If you are concerned about radio waves of this power magnitude, you shouldn’t be, as you can only guess how many radio waves are already there from ships, cell phones, television signals, car batteries, airplanes, DirecTV, Dish network, Ham radios, and, oh yeah, that big bright thing in the sky sometimes called the sun.
Now, what this means to me, and probably me only, is the following:
Police and fire will have communications over 90 percent of this island, which I truly believe can and will save lives and property. The ability to get Internet access at “major city” speeds that will allow me to most likely drop my Internet access with the local phone company, which the only reason I have it is because I have to have it for Internet access, and my cell phone doesn’t basically hold phone calls where I live, unless I stand on my head with tin foil wrapped around my feet.
There is a proposal to let the cell-phone companies “piggy back” on the OPALCO network, but even if they don’t in the beginning, which they have never cared about this island before and its horribly poor reception for our main-blood of tourists and residents who are trying to make reservations for whale watching, restaurants, taxi service, police or fire, or whatever they do which brings in millions of dollars to our islands.
All I need to do to fix the cell-phone problem around my house when I have the extremely fast bandwidth (meaning large pipeline of information), is to hook a little box to my laptop or computer and my computer becomes a “cell tower”, pushing the signal from my phone to the world wide web and out to the provider’s network with perfect connections.
Imagine: no land line, just a cell. I can then buy a base, just like my inside wireless hand-held phone, insert my cell phone into it and shazam, I have phones in all my rooms like I had before.
Guess what, I can also drop my cable or satellite, which when you do the numbers on how little you watch it and how much you are actually paying per hour to watch the Dailey Show or National Geographic, or Whale Wars, doesn’t add up. Now I can go directly to the Web and watch it, stop it, go eat something, come back and watch it again, on demand and in HD quality from Netflix, Hulu, and any other streaming sites, because of the large bandwidth, and get this… on my television set.
Oh yeah, this ability to connect goes off shore for a ways and guess what you can do with the Internet on a boat with a laptop.
This initiative is a chance for our islands to become a model of upscale-able communications that will serve us all to the good, both now and as technology changes for years to come.
I have been around corporate initiatives before and seen the “greed” and self-serving practices of profit. I want to point out that what I have experienced from this “grass roots” home-owned power company (OPALCO), is that of selfless serving of the inhabitants of the “Rock” we all call home. Support them like they support us, after all, it’s your company.
— Editor’s note: Norris Palmer is a former Internet protocol video professional, holding positions with hotel video companies, and founder of a satellite entertainment company.