Wednesday, February 25, 2009

Wi-Fi: The New Deal for the 21st Century

After listening to Barack Obama's address last evening, my blood was boiling. Listening to his initiatives to stimulate our economy sounded to me like noting more than rehashed rhetoric from the Roosevelt Era. Working on building roads and infrastructure, creating windfarms, etc. At some point I actually turned to my wife and said "Listen to Don Quixote tilting at windmills" In a Twitterpoll about his speech last night, I gave it a 3 on a scale of 1 to 10. And this morning when told I brought down the average, I responded that "I am not yet drinking the 'Yes We Can' Kool-Aid." And then the following happened and changed my whole prespective.

Whilst, finally, listening to a Keynote given by David Warlick that I had saved to my desktop many moons ago I heard him mention that South Korea already has broadband in every home that is faster than most o the US connections. He went on to further state that Macedonia is completely wireless. Not a city, not a town, an entire country! That got me researching and sure enough according to USA Today: "Macedonia may be the world's first all-wireless Internet country, where Internet access is available to virtually anyone with a wireless-enabled computer. "

Now granted from what I gathered the infrastructure is not free to the citizens. To use the system users must purchase a phone-type card that allows access for a set ammount of time. Also, Macedonia is 9,779 sq mi, which is roughly about the size of metro area of Chicago (10,874 sq mi) and has nearly the same population. And there have been plenty of major us cities that have tried to provide such a network and failed: Hartford, CT (due to cost and technical issues) , Philadelphia, PA (Due to Earthlink bailing out of the project) and St. Louis Park, Minnesota (who is currently in a law-suit with Arinc over the failure) to name a few.

But my point is simply this, President Obama, while your head is in the clouds and your attitude is still "Yes We Can," perhaps the solution is right around you - "In the Cloud" as it were (sorry for the analogy...I am a network engineer at heart!) With layoffs at Microsoft, Motorola, and a multitude of other technology hubs across this great country it may be a good idea to create a collective technology braintrust that can seed the cloud and create a true information superhighway to which everyone can hitch a ride! Placing a shovel in the hands of a white collar worker to build a bridge at minimum wage is not likely to do much good. But perhaps, creating a new infrastructure for the 21st century built of clouds would create the benefit all sides. It's an initiative you may wish to consider.
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