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Aspen surveying online needs

Allyn Harvey

Similar warnings are packed into the survey’s introduction: “While billions of dollars have already been invested in the 30 largest cities across America, it is apparent that the provision of Broadband, high-speed digital services to rural areas remains a low priority.” “Eighty-six percent of the high-speed Internet delivery capacity in the U.S. is concentrated in the 20 largest cities.” “Without broadband access, Aspen would miss out on telemedicine, distance learning, telecommuting, and the substantial productivity gains realized from e-commerce.” Collin points out that more and more enterprises are using the Internet for everything from ordering supplies to educating staff. The biggest challenge local businesses face is keeping up with their suppliers and competitors who have access to state-of-the-art relay equipment set up in Denver and other cities.

Collin makes no effort to be unbiased. The survey’s introduction points out the T-1 lines offered by U S West are expensive, and laments the fact that broadband service (similar to cell phone and paging technology) is available only in large cities.

The introduction includes a table comparing the different lengths of time it takes different kinds of access to download a three-hour movie, such as “Titanic.” While it takes a standard over-the-phone modem 42.5 hours to download the movie, it takes local multipoint distribution service (LMDS) access, a broadband system, only 18 minutes.

The survey itself asks people if their businesses and homes are located in direct line of one of four possible broadcast tower sites – the top of Little Nell, high on Red Mountain, the Smuggler Mountain platform or Shale Bluffs.

U S West spokeswoman Bonnie Pehl-Petersen said some of the movie-download times in Collin’s introduction are inaccurate. She also noted that U S West’s digital frame relay service was not included among the options listed in the introduction.

“Already Aspen, from a perspective of access to high-speed lines, has access to just about everything U S West offers,” she said.

Aspen City Manager Steve Barwick said the city plans to assess demand and then lure companies like Teledesic, which uses satellite links and NextLink – which uses LMDS – to set up shop in Aspen.

“What we’re trying to do is spur competition for high-speed Internet access,” he said.


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