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Ted Rayburn: What does fast internet mean to the Springs? Everything

November 5, 2016 Updated: November 5, 2016 at 2:28 pm
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FILE - In this Feb. 27, 2013, file photo illustration, hands type on a computer keyboard in Los Angeles. (AP Photo/Damian Dovarganes, File)

"It's all connected," a popular mantra goes.

Except when it's not.

As vital as it is to have fast, reliable internet service for our community and our economy, Colorado Springs and the Pikes Peak region could do better.

It's not that there aren't fast options, but they are expensive and not widely available or accessible. So I am optimistic that change is coming after Tuesday's news that heavy-hitter Comcast is making 1-gigabit-per-second service more available and possibly cheaper beginning early next year.

The technology Comcast is introducing here and around Colorado provides faster speeds through existing coaxial cable lines, a big reason for lower prices - although customers will need a compatible modem for the DOCSIS 3.1 technology. Competitor CenturyLink has made gigabit internet available in select neighborhoods of Denver.

And on Wednesday, CenturyLink said that 1-gigabit service is available to 21,000 business customers in multitenant office buildings around the state.

Based on Comcast's roll-outs in Atlanta, Portland, Ore., San Francisco and other cities, the cost of DOCSIS 3.1 service could run about $140 a month, less with a long-term contract. Previous versions of high-speed internet required fiber-optic lines, which are not as widely distributed as cable lines and professional installation. Granted, that service delivered 2-gigabit speed, but for about $300 a month.

So, what does all of this mean?

Yes, certainly many users will focus on the entertainment value in super-fast internet service. I am far more interested in what this will do for local businesses and, I hope, local government. The more quickly that a company can share data with its customers here and around the world, the better. As another adage says: "Time is money."

Our city and county governments should be in on this progress, too. After all, when so many business plans require local permits and oversight, aren't those communications just part of doing business? How about public schools, which must maintain and keep secure tons of data on tens of thousands of students?

Lastly, let's not forget the importance of super-fast internet as a way to keep and attract young adults in Colorado Springs. Too often, I have heard that millennials do not see this city as a place to put down roots or start a business, unless they are starting a family.

I don't personally believe Colorado Springs lacks the "cool" factor - for example, our outdoor recreational opportunities and cultural institutions will stack up against those of much larger cities. But people hear this line and believe it.

Having affordable, gigabit-speed internet available throughout our city? That should take the wind out of the naysayers' sails.

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Send Gazette Business Editor Ted Rayburn your ideas on the local economy at 636-0194 or ted.rayburn@gazette.com.

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