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Google it

Dear Editor:

Google is making $500 million available to install GIGABIT fiber optic access to the Internet in selected communities around the U.S. The competition, as you can imagine, is intense. Aspen/Pitkin County is filing the required formal governmental application. But Google also requires strong expressions of interest from as many local community groups and individuals as possible.

Gigabit access is roughly 200 times as fast as the so-called high-speed access that we are used to. It would be hard to exaggerate the economic benefits that would accrue to our valley, not to mention our individual advantages, if we were lucky enough to be chosen by Google as one of the coveted test-bed locations for its initiative. Our valley would automatically become attractive to a wide range of new economic and technical endeavors that would not normally think of bringing their activity to our valley.

In 1995, I founded the first local access to the Internet (not my mentor and technical guru Nick de Wolf, as erroneously reported earlier in the Times), the nonprofit Roaring Fork Internet User’s Group, ROFINTUG, now simply ROF.NET. (Nick had other concerns at the time, and had nothing whatsoever to do with the founding or operation of ROFINTUG). When I launched ROF on my GrassRoots TV program, “Computing In Our Valley,” with significant help from Bill Joy’s AspenSmallWorks, and at our first public meeting at the Aspen Institute, the response from the community was so overwhelming that we soon had to close down new memberships until we were able to expand our technical capabilities to handle them.

When I later handed the reins over to the board of directors, we were solidly established and were, in our little ole Roaring Fork Valley, the lowest-cost non-subsidized Internet Service Provider in the world – this is not hyperbole. I mention all this, as I come out of deep retirement, because I sincerely feel that a Google Gigabit Internet Network could be a thousand times more important to our valley than ROFINTUG, our first local connection to the Internet, was in those early days. If appropriate, a new nonprofit organization could be created to manage the enterprise, or even dear old ROF.NET, still in existence after all these years, might just be able to manage the undertaking.

It would be wonderful if every resident of the Roaring Fork Valley would contact Google at the web address below. Time is absolutely of the essence. Given the intense nationwide competition, we only have a chance if there is an overwhelming outpouring of individual and community support. So, have fun – do your part, and convince others like yourself, and valleywide organizations with which you may be associated, to let your views be known to Google at the website below. Please type it in exactly – every character is important. Note the “s” after “http,” and the two “r”s in the word “fiberrfi.” Respond on the “Community” side of the web page: https://www.google.com/appserve/fiberrfi/public/options

Richard Sherman

Aspen


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