By Estes Park resident Michael Moon
Looking back on my childhood, I was lucky that my 92 year old great aunt came to live with us. She was born in 1878 on the high plains, made a living as a milliner in Louisville Kentucky, nursed both of her brothers until their death and then came to live with us. I, as a youngster living on the Space Coast of Florida, was enthralled with everything space and Aunt Lula seemed to adore listening to all that I wanted to share about the technology. The reason I am sharing this with you is that Aunt Lula saw so much in her 103 years and continued until her death to remain interested and willing to embrace new technology. She saw steam locomotives become diesel; transportation go from a one-horse carriage to at 20 horsepower Model T’s to the 383 horsepower Barracuda she rode in with me; and telegraph, telephones, radio and TV revolutionize communications. She lived history from the cowboys, Indians and outlaws of the high plains, through two world wars and finally the landing of a man on the moon. Technological change was simply a part of her life.
Today the technological change that we are most impacted by involves the thorough turnover of business, information, medical, travel, manufacturing and finance access and practice that has been the status quo for the 20th century driven primarily by the availability of instant worldwide internet communications. Add to that, that we have smartphones in our pockets which are far more powerful than all the computer technology on that Apollo lunar mission, that connect us to this communication super highway called the internet and that creates our own personal instant connect/access portal to the world.
Today we do our banking mostly online or with automated tellers. We check out of Safeway at a kiosk. Our advance medical imaging is read by specialists thousands of miles from the Estes Valley. We book our travel online after letting applications scour the world for just the right deal. Google gives us access to all the world’s information, news and opinions at a click. Amazon provides hundreds of thousands of items to purchase and delivers them in 2 days. 3D printing is on the verge of changing manufacturing with everything from sneakers to aircraft engine parts being able to be fabricated online. Our entertainment can be streamed anywhere we are and we can get just what we want, not the 1 channel out of 999 on cable or satellite. Our purchases are 85-90% via either debt or credit cards – with all of the processing accessed online.
Here in Estes, ALL of our communications come to us over an internet connection – cellular, TDS, CenturyLink, Estes Valley Networks, Airbits, 911 and all retail/food services/lodging financial connections. Living here in paradise, we are totally dependent upon broadband for our connectivity to the world.
Robust, redundant, high speed broadband internet connectivity is critically important because so much of our daily lives are dependent upon a connection to the internet even if we only think that all we are using the internet for logging onto email. The new services that are just around the corner will require significantly more bandwidth but will quickly become as important and ubiquitous as the cell phone is today.
A final aspect of why we care is that our economy depends upon 4-5 million visitors each year and those visitors require high bandwidth connectivity or they will go somewhere else. Lodging establishments see this daily. The vacation rental business is also acutely aware of this requirement with people going elsewhere because they cannot afford to be disconnected even when they are on vacation – think primarily financial traders and C-level executives, but all of the family members are elements of this decision. And finally, there are those who have jobs that allow them to work remotely that can just barely make that kind of lifestyle work here, just barely because of the limited bandwidth and connectivity that is the current state of broadband in the Estes Valley.
Aunt Lula saw major infrastructure advances that today we simply take for granted. She saw public water and septic system come into existence and had the first indoor restroom in her shop in Louisville. She saw nationwide train travel and telegraph systems link the East and West coasts of our country and cut information transmission time from weeks to minutes and travel to days not months. She saw the electrification of our country and the benefits that brought to both city dwellers and rural farmers. She witnessed the impact of the automobile on our daily lives.
Today we are on the threshold of adding a new critical infrastructure element to our daily lives – BROADBAND COMMUNICATIONS. Years from now we will look back when we standardly have 1+ Gigabit broadband service in our homes and most likely in the palm of our hand and wonder how we managed to live with the 2-10 Megabits we have today and why it wasn’t just considered a basic community infrastructure service like roads, water, sewer and electricity.
Yes, you and I really do care about broadband infrastructure in the Estes Valley.