We Can't Say "No" to the Future

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BROADBAND UPDATE: Council has removed the broadband discussion from the agenda this Wednesday. Stay tuned. We'll update as we have more info.

 

Grand Junction is a wonderful place to live. Mountain biking, hiking, wine tasting, rafting, skiing and so much more are all right on our door step. The quality of life in our valley is truly top notch; it's why we live here.

But as we move further and further into the future, towards a more high-tech workforce, driven by remote workers and entrepreneurs, we risk losing access to what we love so much. 

I don't mean to say that our outdoor resources are in danger of going away. But we might be. Estimates place the number of workers working remotely—that is, not working at a corporate office—above 50% by 2020. That's incredible! Remote workers enjoy greater freedom, more flexibility with their time and more satisfaction with their jobs. This is a great place to have flexibility with your time!

And as the pace of innovation increases, we have to keep up. Access to affordable, reliable gigabit fiber is a requirement in the location-neutral economy. As workers detach from traditional offices, their need for connectivity back to those offices increases. The responsibilities don't change, only the location. So remote workers need a fast, reliable connection to their offices and entrepreneurs need the same connection with their clients and customers. Governer Hickenlooper recognized this, signing legislation to encourage more broadband development in Colorado. If Grand Junction can't provide this connectivity, there will be little choice but to move somewhere that can. Fortunately, we have options and we're moving in the right direction.

I watched first hand as members of FACTORY, Grand Junction's first coworking space, raced to lock in their memberships largely because of their need for gigabit fiber internet access. I couldn't have asked for a better illustration of the extreme need we already face. In fact, until FACTORY opened, it was faster to drive to Montrose—where gigabit has been available for more than a year—to upload files. Our members used to do just that.

Grand Junction has been making great strides towards ensuring the future of our next generation. City council have embarked on an ambitious project to bring gigabit fiber to all of the homes in this city, and there has already been progress. After a lengthy RFP process, council selected SiFi/Nokia as the preferred vendors to bring high-speed internet here. They authorized a comprehensive survey to determine the citizens' need for gigabit, and the results were clear—we need this!

And our councilors have kept the project in line with the desires of our community. This will not be a city-run or city-managed ISP!

However, it's not over yet. This Wednesday (Feb 1) city council will meet to decide whether or not to proceed to the next phase. This phase of the project is intented to create an implementation plan for the installation of fiber throughout the city, more thouroughly investigate the feasability of the project and gather the information necessary to ensure success. This phase would cost the city up to $200,000, but only if we decide not to continue working with SiFi/Nokia.

City council have shown great leadership in the push toward ubiquitous fiber, but the battle is not over.

Entrenched interests within the region have been pushing hard to derail the process. Disruptive technologies are often met with resistance from incumbent industries, unwilling to innovate, yet afraid of losing their dominance. We are experiencing that here. A lot of time, money and effort has been expended to convince city council to leave things just the way they are.

We cannot let this happen. I firmly believe that any city where a majority of its citizens do not have access to high-speed, reliable fiber is doomed to fade into irrelevancy within the next decade. The writing is on the wall, as more of the economy moves online, we have to keep up or we will fall behind.

Will you get involved and help move GJ forward? We need two things:

  1. Please email our city councilors BEFORE Wednesday to express your support for this plan. You don't even have to write if you don't want to, click the link and the email will be filled out for you to edit or send as is.

  2. We need to turn out! Our city council meetings are traditionally not well attended. But it's time to get involved. Please make the time to be at city council on Wednesday at 7pm. It's not glamorous, but it matters. A strong show of support within our community will make a difference! City Hall is on 5th and White, across from the Alpine Bank building.

    BROADBAND UPDATE: Council has removed the broadband discussion from the agenda this Wednesday. Stay tuned. We'll update as we have more info.

 

Click Here to Email City Council Quickly and Easily