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Put translator funds to good use

Dear Editor:

The county should support Rural Broadband Cooperative advanced Internet access with translator funds.

On Wednesday, Minnie Ingersoll, Google product manager, posted a blog entry, asking us to “imagine sitting in a rural health clinic, streaming three-dimensional medical imaging over the web and discussing a unique condition with a specialist in New York. Or downloading a high-definition, full-length feature film in less than five minutes … Universal, ultra high-speed Internet access will make all this and more possible … and today we’re announcing an experiment of our own.”

Last June, I helped form the Rural Broadband Cooperative. RBC was formed to accelerate broadband Internet technologies. I donated my time to this, as I have before. In 1997, I created a simple, low-cost DSL modem – my unique concept in 1996. That created several jobs, preserved many more jobs and opened up affordable broadband business access, along with the productivity gains everyone now knows high speed brings.

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We’re on the cusp of a new revolution. Cloud computing and other Internet-hungry applications are ready for use. We just can’t reach them with our struggling Internet services today. I have the skills and have been paid handsomely for them for 20 years in telecommunications. I chose to donate my time to this cause in Aspen, again.

In 2009, within three months of the RBC being formed, RBC demonstrated 60-megabit consumer Internet access! Unheard of anywhere in our valley.

Then, in December, I met with the Pitkin County commissioners on this topic. I pleaded they consider funding legal, land-use and some technical planning. By redirecting a small part of the already collected translator budget, the county might find 10 times that money back in ARRA federal funds within 12 months!

A good investment and reasonable risk by any standard.

Google’s announcement Wednesday underscores the importance of the RBC/ARRA funding effort.

Google takes novel positions. The RBC announced very similar positions last year! “We’re not an ISP.” “We’re moving forward with a demonstration.” “We believe this means jobs and economic and quality-of-life benefits for our community.” Reading Google’s announcement, you might think they read RBC’s first.

If we work together, we can win ARRA funding, continue to improve Internet speeds and lower costs for all Pitkin County residents.

I should point out, more than 60 letters and notes of support have been written at the Pitkin County Rural Broadband petition site: http://www.thepetitionsite.com/1/rural-broadband-internet-pitkin-county.

I hope the other county commissioners will show the same level of enthusiasm as Mr. Michael Owsley did, and support the RBC’s efforts to modernize our Internet access options through a small redirection of translator funding. This sends a strong signal that Pitkin County is ready to work with Google and ARRA committees for the benefit of all Pitkin County and Aspen citizens and businesses.

Alex Huppenthal

Aspen


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