The Ottumwa Courier


August 29, 2013

Fast isn't good enough


Settles said what ends up happening is at the end of the business day, for example, a whole bunch of companies need to send a lot of information at once. Without enough capacity, everyone slows down.

"... a good way to put it ... is gridlock," said Barajas.

"The question becomes, 'Will I [always] have enough speed to meet my [business] needs?'" Settles said.

Businesses don't want to meet clients on a teleconference "face to face" and constantly have their video stream freezing up. School districts don't want to have dozens of visiting educators come in for a live lecture by video and have the speaker come across as choppy ... or not come across at all.

That's the reason, both Barajas and Settles said, for the extensive study of area businesses and residents as well as a willingness to work with incumbent providers of Internet service: let's see what we have, what people need and what they think they'll need one day right here in Ottumwa.

Barajas and his team have made visits to other communities that have successfully added broadband to the amenities available in their area. The theory is, let's learn how this has been done well and see what mistakes were made. He's already learned rushing things is not a good idea. One successful county developed their network over the course of 12 years.

"Whatever [development] model we employ ... as best for us ... have some success, take another step," Barajas said. "As we build, we're making sure of ourselves every step of the way."

As Settles helps Ottumwans meet leaders in other towns, networking becomes easier for people like Barajas. Some of these new friends could observe the lay of the land in Ottumwa, perhaps helping to avoid costly mistakes.

Another question answered by visiting successful communities is what local businesses do when they have as much speed and capacity as they need. That's a question Settles actually has been asking in Ottumwa. What would you do if, tech-wise, you could have it all?

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