The Personal Benefits of Your Community-Owned Network

November 20th, 2012


Shortly before I started grad school in 2005, I got a laptop that had built in WiFi. To help some of us “old timers” who hadn’t been in school for some time, the university had refresher courses to help us remember what we had once learned and perhaps forgotten since undergrad days. I believe taking my laptop to those classes was my first WiFi experience.

It’s commonplace now, of course, but the novelty of being online without the restriction of wires was very cool. It wasn’t long before I had purchased a wireless router for the home. I named our connection “Freiheit,” which is German for “freedom.” And freedom is what I felt: freedom to use my laptop on the porch, freedom to take it to the living room, freedom to leave the wires behind. These days, it’s hard to find an electronic device that doesn’t have built in WiFi. That’s what happens when tech is ubiquitous.

The magic of technology is that it opens up new possibilities for us—usually possibilities we hadn’t considered before. I grew up with VCRs, and they served a purpose. But DVRs do essentially the same thing, and in a much more user-friendly way. That’s innovation—taking one idea and making it better and simpler to use, making our lives a little easier. Technology isn’t static and innovation keeps rolling; DVRs are now starting to feel a little passé, as streaming services allow people to ditch cable and satellite entirely.

When we talk about the community-owned UTOPIA network, it’s easy to focus on speed because it’s so far ahead of what is available from other entities. For many, however, speed is too abstract, its advantages only becoming apparent in relative terms. In the final analysis, however, speed is only a means to an end: making more things possible and having more tech-aided freedom.

The value of any tool lies in what it helps you accomplish. The right socket wrench will save you time and effort. The right fiber broadband connection will do the same—stream or download that movie when you want, quickly, so you can enjoy it on your terms and without the fuss. One of our devoted subscribers has even pointed out a “green” benefit to the network: instead of leaving a computer on for hours to download a sizeable file, UTOPIA subscribers can finish much quicker and save power.

We are therefore trying to highlight what the network helps you do, the real, personal benefits of a dedicated fiber line. Our “I am UTOPIA” contest was designed to highlight your experiences. We hope you’ll share them with us.