The Nation's First E-State
Vermont is committed to having cellular coverage for every square foot
of the state and broadband access for every home. Ready to
On Monday 5Mar07, Gov. Jim Douglas (VT) presented his plans
to make Vermont "the first E-State in the Nation" offering 100% network
connectivity at a meeting
I enjoy each year. He was introduced by
his network guru, Tom Evslin.
IS A GOOD THING
Some joke that achieving usable cellphone coverage in every dell and
valley will leave the state looking like a wounded porcupine.
But 100% coverage is the only valid goal. As those without
broadband become a smaller and smaller minority, their disadvantage and
isolation in society gets bigger and bigger. Gov. Douglas,
hats off to you for leadership and inclusiveness!!
But there's more. Suppose **everyone** is connected?
Now grade-school teachers can reach **every** student in
class, and each student can collaborate with any other.
It pays for any club or group to run organizational
activities on the Web because all membes are "present" there.
Gov. Douglas and his Vermont pioneers hope software
innovators will see Vermont as "the" testbed in the nation for new
tools to have fun, raise money, fix up the town and renew the
richness of civic life.
As a nation, our broadband underclass got formed this year --
the USA finally went over 50% broadband access with no national
commitment to reach 100%, no Rural Electrification Act, no universal
telephone service fund. Vermont is already solving a problem
big guys on the national level don't yet know they have. Once
again, state leadership tries to make up -- piecemeal -- for
a national vacuum.
For broadband, Vermont's consultant on fiber deployment is Tom Evslin,
whom I respect as solid if not visionary. He has found a nice
thing for a not-quite-billionaire to do with his time.
re-written from Wikipedia:
Tom Evslin was co-founder (with wife Mary) of ITXC
Corp, a wholesale VoIP (Voice over Internet Protocol)
provider. The company grew from startup in 1997 to one of the
world's largest carriers of telephone minutes in 2004 when it was
acquired by another competitively-pressured company,
Teleglobe. Evslin's introduction to the phone business came
at AT&T, where he drove AT&T's first ISP, AT&T
WorldNet Service, and popularized flat
rate dialup access. When AT&T would not
move fast enough to seize the VoIP opportunity, Evslin left
to create ITXC.
Evslin's first technological and buy-out success came when Microsoft
bought key assets of Evslin's software company Solutions, Inc.,
including Evslin himself. Evslin and Solutions, Inc.
contributed to Microsoft's server technology and Backoffice
products. Although the Backoffice name was canned in 2001,
this initiative was the start of Microsoft's first moves into the
entire server line (serving up Web pages, serving e-mail, SQL database
serving) and away from the desktop.
It is important for Vermont to succeed. But it is more
important for advancing the Internet and the nation that municipal
networks succeed, more important that cities and counties not be
blocked from building their own cable plants (water, sewer,
electricity, fiber -- what every home needs).
THERE ARE BETTER THINGS THAN FULL
The "muni broadband" battle is big and nasty enough to attract a lot of
Comcast and SBC opposed one municipal fiber-to-the-home
project by contacting area residents in Geneva, Batavia, and
St. Charles, Illinois, asking them "survey" questions such as
"Should tax money be allowed to provide pornographic movies for
What are many municipalities doing that Vermont isn't?
Many "muni-fiber plants" are built as platforms upon which **multiple
providers** can offer multiple services, some completely novel.
The municipality gets the platform going long-term, and
private companies can "ride" on it -- any company can use the platform
to deliver any service that might fly in the local
marketplace. Room for many a more. Meanwhile, in
Vermont, in the cellphone games, Governor Jim
Douglas is handing a conventional platform over to single corporation
to provide a single service. Sure, others can use the same
towers, but listen guys, modern wireless technology would
permit a mesh network not controlled by any single corporation nor
delivering only a single service.
A little background here.
The single most important technical fact for people to understand about
their cellphones is that the cellphones can connect only to a
corporation's cell tower. But technologies exist for enabling
cellphones to connect to one another. If my cellphone can
forward Mary's traffic to Tom, then our cellphones create a and extend
our own network and we do not need the corporation on the
tower. There. Now you understand why you do not
have the freedom in your free market to buy such a cellphone.
Even in Vermont.
Perhaps Gov. Douglas's wireline (fiber) platform will be more open and
innovative than his wireless platform.
Photo from Evslin's blog, Fractals of Change (doesn't work in
all open-source browsers; you may have to use the browser from Evslin's
old company, Microsoft. The browser is
called Internet Explorer). Anyway, the blog
by David Zahn.
One is a nerd, the other a politician, both live in Vermont.