James Miller

What is “Broadband” Internet and Why Do I Need It?

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Editor’s note: Also read this week’s article by Ray Berg about the progress of the The Washtenaw County Broadband Initiative and their Jan. 17, 2014 meeting in the News section.

“Broadband” (or sometimes just “fast’) refers to a type of connection that your home can have to the Internet.  You can read a more in-depth article about fast Internet connections here. Fast Internet access refers to any kind of service that does NOT involve using a telephone land line.

It is possible for anyone with a landline phone to dial a number and use that phone line (connected to a computer) to access the Internet. This kind of access is very slow.  So slow, in fact, that most of the things that you think of when you think of the Internet either won’t work properly or won’t work at all.

Today’s Internet requires that large pieces of information be sent from computer to computer.  Often, several of these large files need to be used at once in order to do something that is seemingly simple.  For example, looking at a web site from an insurance provider to pick a doctor might involve several large pieces of information.  If you have landline Internet access this simple transaction could take many minutes.  With fast Internet access it would only take a few seconds, or less.

If you have a few tasks to do on the Internet , it’s not hard to see how having landline access and not fast access would make the Internet impossible to use.

Why Does This Matter To Me and To Manchester?

Rural areas like Manchester don’t have easy access to broadband Internet.  It almost always involves running expensive, thick cables long distances for few customers, and big telecommunications companies aren’t that enthusiastic about spending the money for little return.

If you need to do things on the Internet, lack of fast Internet means you can’t do any of the following: watch tv and movies, listen to / download music or books, take classes, do your taxes, and more.  Some of the most valuable things the Internet has to offer are off-limits.

If you don’t use the Internet, then your community can’t offer these essential services of modern life.  People will be hesitant to move to your town.  People who already live here will move somewhere where they can get them.  Schools and businesses will founder without this fast link to the rest of the world.

State, local, and county governments are working with a non-profit group called Connect Michigan.  You can read more about their efforts to bring fast Internet service to all of Washtenaw County here.

To take the survey about broadband Internet from Connect Michigan, please click here.

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