The Ottumwa Courier

Opinion

September 14, 2013

Broadband Internet just the beginning

I had the opportunity to meet the broadband delegation from Ottumwa who recently toured Steuben County, Ind. As one of the iMAN Fiber Network team members, I can assure you this was an incredible experience for both of our groups.

First, as I’ve learned more about your city and county, I’m surprised at the similarities in demographic information regarding size, population and median income.

And if I’ve done the math right, we even have roughly the same number of people employed in manufacturing industries, even though our unemployment rate is slightly higher.

The point I’m making is that we have more in common than one would think for two rural communities that are two states and about 450 miles apart. So why is this important?

It’s important because while we know Ottumwa is just beginning their exploration of fiber network options, Steuben County began that process over a dozen years ago, before the term “broadband” hit the national headlines and became the most recent economic development tool.

iMAN (Indiana Metropolitan Area Network) was carefully considered and developed for the same reasons David Barajas along with the Economic Development Corp. and Brad Little along with the Ottumwa Regional Legacy Foundation are seeking ways to develop it in Ottumwa … technology and its advances are requiring greater and greater speeds at which to transmit data.

It’s a requirement for school systems, colleges and universities as they compete for innovative ways to include students in STEM-related curriculum.

It’s a requirement for advanced manufacturing and engineering applications. It’s a requirement for healthcare, whether in a hospital, outpatient, medical imaging or telemedicine environment.

And it’s even a requirement for local government use, especially in areas such as public safety and homeland security.

If there are still people out there who don’t understand the importance of broadband infrastructure, consider this quote from the 2010 National Broadband Plan:

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