Category Archives: Colleges

Lack of fiber in Northfield’s economic diet

joel_cooper_krlx.jpgBack in April, we did a show on Northfield’s ultra high-speed broadband infrastructure with guest, Joel Cooper, Carleton’s Director of Information Technology Services. I think we should do another one, as municipal constipation may be setting in.

Earlier this week in the the Strib: College debuts Internet so fast, it almost gives you whiplash

Preparing for increased convergence of technology and media, Century College in White Bear Lake opened a new technology center featuring lightning-fast connections… He said the school developed the Kopp Center over the past five years with the idea that television will eventually be Internet-based and that as the Internet expands there will be more desktop video, more Internet TV, more bi-directional education, and so on.

There was also a Strib article in July that included info on fiber/ultra high speed: Should cities play role in providing Internet?

sBurnsville wants to make sure inadequate, high-cost Internet doesn’t slow growth, said Council Member Dan Gustafson. “We’re very focused on the medical technologies in Burnsville, and fiber is going to be very important for that industry.”

fiber.gifApple announced its TV/movie distribution service this week (BW article) following a similar Amazon announcement recently.

So what does all this mean? I think it means that the City of Northfield should examine more closely how ultra high-speed broadband infrastructure can help it achieve two of the three main strategies that are laid out in the recently approved 2006 economic development plan:

  • 1) Diversifying Northfield’s economic base
    The targeted industries include medical: “Healthcare/medical. Industry activities that range here and from direct patient care to diagnostic services to medical research.” If Burnsville sees the need for fiber for its medical technology industry, shouldn’t Northfield?

  • 3) Attracting and retaining talent
    Isn’t it likely that the college students we want to retain and others we want to attract would be enticed in part by the benefits offered by our fiber infrastructure? In the Dallas suburb of Keller, in Tampa, and in Huntington Beach, California, Verizon is rolling out FTTP (fiber-to-the-premises) for local customers “… as it can make applications like video chat and conferencing, digital movie downloads, and interactive multi-player games a part of their daily lives.” See Verizon’s FIOS website for more.

It’s time Northfield got serious about these developments. (Blandin is having a conference in October: Next Generation Broadband. City officials should attend.) Nothing has happened with city-wide wi-fi since the NDDC held a forum on it many months ago and I fear nothing is going to happen with fiber. (Yes, I’d like to see fiber brought to Northfield Crossing since I’m going to be living there next spring. Plus, I think it would help them sell more condos in this current real estate downturn.)

I plan to visit an upcoming EDA meeting and make my sentiments known. In the meantime, make your sentiments about this issue known by attaching comments here.