In September of 2015, a discussion began in the community concerning the need for high speed broadband.


Over 3 years ago.


In November of 2015, a vote was held in Vinton and the desire to create a Vinton Communications Utility passed by an overwhelming 793 to 104.


Also 3 years ago.


Many assumed that by now, Vinton would have high-speed broadband. Not so fast.


First let's discuss the what, where and when of fiber optics. The first fiber optic cable system designed to serve an urban environment was launched forty-three years ago, in 1977.


While the technology sending light signals through glass fiber for data transmission is constantly being improved to provide even greater speeds and bandwidth, the underlying technology is quite old and durable by the standards of rapidly evolving digital technologies.


Here is an easy analogy to remember: the speed is like the posted speed on a highway. It is the maximum speed you can travel. The broadband part is like the number of lanes. The more lanes, the higher the volume of traffic even if the speed limit is the same as a two-lane highway. So with high-speed broadband fiber optic communications systems, you can have many more users moving at the maximum allowable speed.


In Vinton, like most communities, the challenge isn’t how to BUILD the system, or even how to OPERATE the system.


We need the public support to convince political and governmental units to finance the system. We have achieved widespread public support for building a high-speed broadband network in Vinton because our residents are limited to providers who offer slow speeds at high prices with poor customer service.


We’ve proven that the project has broad public support with independent market research by UNI. The public support is strong because all the small communities around us offer high-speed fiber-optic broadband service, and it’s clear that the current providers aren’t going to invest resources in Vinton. Unless we act, Vinton's technolgy will continue to fall further and further behind.


When we arrived in Vinton 15 years or so ago, it was comforting to find that the town looked basically the same. At the same time, I had expected there to be more change than there had been from when I had moved away in the 70's.


The factories were gone, Perfex, Hawkbuilt, the canning factory and now we are in a new century.


The labor force no longer leaves for the job, but often tries to work from home on their laptops. If you operate a business in town, one of the largest challenges are technology.


At one of the offices downtown, the speed at which data downloads, was a mere 14 megabytes per second. If you don't work with data downloading, it's like using a mimeograph to print your latest book.


For an office to function, the ability to download data is a reality but often an impossible task. One area office, explained that to keep the office functioning during the day, they download large files at night while the office is closed, just so that they can function during the day.


From our experience, we know that it probably also includes multiple trips to the office to start the next batch of documents to download. However, in other areas of the country, the speed was 377 megabytes!


The cost for the same technology was much cheaper, as a matter of fact, cheaper than we've ever seen it. Families today are drawn to towns like Vinton. They check out the schools, daycare, stores and everything else a family needs, except the high-speed broadband. When they arrive, chances are, they will need to work from home.


But like the downtown business, they will be unable to do that, even if they can afford the expensive and outdated service that is available, and chances are, it will be a strain on an already tight budget. They will try to find other options, but will soon discover that there isn't any. In a sense it's a hidden tax. It's an expense that you have to put into your already tight budget, as well as losing sleep, because you are now awake at night, simply to start downloading your next file.


Vinton need to be competitive for young families and businesses, we should also be interested in educational parity and fairness to those whose incomes don’t support high internet bills.


Vinton NEEDS to step into the next century, and now.


To learn how fast your internet is, visit www.speedtest.net



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