by Pete Julius
Can you remember the days when cell phones did not exist? Do you remember when laptops did not exist? Can you remember when PDA’s did not exist? A more important question…do you remember how difficult it was to communicate with people without all of these technological devices? Parents now have the comfort of being able to call and reach their children to find out where they are. Of course, the challenge is then to get them to answer the phone. Business people now have the luxury of making phone calls from the road and checking email while sitting in a boring conference session. Of course, now everyone is complaining about not being able to get away from work on vacation because of how easy it is to communicate with each other. All of these technologies have their desired attributes and frustrating downsides, but they have no doubt made life easier.
The rapid advancements in cell phones, laptops, PDA’s, and other similar devices have allowed people to communicate via wireless applications. Wireless applications allow people who are sitting in a cybernet café to have access to the Internet while sitting at a table and sipping a latte. The ability to be able to connect wirelessly is becoming an increasingly desired and needed infrastructure for communities to make available. It helps communities retain and recruit talented and creative people. The same can also be said of businesses. Wireless connections, as well as fiber optic and other wired connections, allow people and businesses to connect with anyone, anywhere and at any time. Globalization has fueled the growth of this technology and it has become vitally important to the life and success of any organization. Wireless infrastructures also allow people to access educational opportunities that may not exist within their own communities. For instance, wireless infrastructures and other forms of telecommunication infrastructures allow people to get college degrees at the undergraduate and graduate level through online institutions, such as the University of Phoenix . The benefits of wireless infrastructure are plentiful, but the existence of wireless in a lot of communities is lagging behind. Most major cities and a fair percentage of rural communities have access, but all of them should. Here is a quick list of tactics that will help communities establish a wireless infrastructure:
Needs: Identify who needs (people, businesses, government, schools, etc.) broadband service and determine the revenue that will be generated from this source.
Support: You must have support from people, private organizations and public entities.
Assistance: Make sure to inquire about any loans, grants or other forms of assistance available from state and local utilities.
Obstacles: Get rid of any laws, regulations or restrictions that prohibit the creation of a broadband internet access system.
Partnerships (stakeholders): Develop partnerships to offset costs. Work together at the regional, county and state levels to help plan, develop and pay for the wireless and broadband networks. Partnerships may also include private and public entities.
Infrastructure: Based upon needs, determine what type of wireless broadband is preferred.
Cost: Figure out how much, who’s going to pay for it, and where the money will come from.
Participation: Identify who will be engaged in the planning, development, implementation and maintenance of the new wireless infrastructure.
Plan: Create a plan for developing the broadband network that at least includes evaluating type of broadband connection, security-related issues for users, desired location of network, site surveys, type of equipment, funding, etc.
If this is not enough to get you started, then check out the following list of helpful links.
A Nation Online: Entering the Broadband Age: http://www.ntia.doc.gov/reports/anol/NationOnlineBroadband04.htm
Broadband Demand and Business Productivity:http://www.technology.gov/OTPolicy/
Six Wireless Communities’ Best Practices Award Winners: http://www.govtech.net/magazine/channel_story.php/96946
Wireless Internet Institute: http://www.w2i.org/
E-NC Authority: www.e-nc.org
2005 Southeast Wireless Symposium: http://www.e-nc.org/2005wirelessforumpresentations.asp
Municipal Wireless: http://muniwireless.com
Rural Broadband Coalition: http://www.ruralbroadbandcoalition.net/
Virginia ‘s Center for Innovative Technologies: http://www.cit.org/broadband-05.asp
CTIA: The Wireless Association: http://www.ctia.org/
Wi-Fi Net News: http://www.wifinetnews.com/