Fw: Texans Just Do It (fwd)

H. C. Covington (ach1@sprynet.com)
Sun, 7 Jun 1998 19:24:43 -0500

Subject: Texans Just Do It (fwd)

While the +ACQ-2.25 billion Federal Universal Service Fund - school/library
portion - looks to be in big trouble from a whole series of
administrative, political, and technical fumbles in Washington from the
very beginning of its implementation, the State of Texas, with little
fanfare is implementing a +ACQ-1.5 billion State program that makes the FCC and
Congress look like the incompetant Keystone Kops trying to corner the
Brady Bunch in the Everglades.

I just returned from two days with the Texas Telecommunications
Infrastructure Fund board holding an +ACI-Online Community Networks for Texas+ACI-
conference in Austin to explore the best ways to implement their
now-funded ability to extend T-1 lines to +ACo-every+ACo- single school, library,
and health center in every tiny Texas town over the next few words. They
are not arguing over how to fill out forms, or calculate complex
eligibility formulas, they are educating themselves on how to extend
connectivity to true 'community networking' across that large state. And
are more focused on real people benefits of Internet connections than on
revisions to their 'rules.'

The State politicos, when the Telcos wanted to be 'deregulated' just made
it clear as a bell - we will deregulate you, but you must collect from
every telephone rate payer a +ACQ-125 million a year fund (about +ACQ-.50 a month
each) and when asked extend a T-1 to +ACo-any+ACo- school no matter how rural
remote. No nonsense. The telcos agreed - they had no choice. Take it or
leave it.  The fund is being collected, there is no political controversy,
and everyone is concentrating on how to make the program benefit the most
Texans. From my viewpoint - reading their plan, the law, and asking LOTS
of hard questions - it is running very smoothly, everyone is upbeat and
not arguing, and proud Texans are just moving into the Information Age
from the most remote towns in hot West Texas to airconditioned Dallas.

And this, in a state, where it was announced from the podium that ONE tiny
Texas town just got dialtone phone service last month for the first time
since it was manadated by Federal law in 1934. That same town will soon
have a T-1 at its school.

I was there to present both some experiences in 'community networking' (as
was Steve Cisler, recent of Apple and now of the Assn of Community
Networks, Steve Snow of Charlotte's Web, and others (including very
impressive, evolved FreeNets, and library nets inside Texas), AND
explain/show them how wireless can be used to extend, economically, the
T-1 level of connectivity from the one point it will reach in a town, to
the +ACo-rest+ACo- of the town. For they say their only real problem now is how
best to 'distribute' the net data link from that funded point (school,
library, or health center) to all the places in town that needs/wants

And there is NONE of the FCC persnickity nonsense over what is, or is not
'eligible' to be funded. The fund can even be used for training of
teachers, librarians, and health care professionals in the use of the net.

They +ACo-really+ACo- appreciated my presentation which showed them there is a
whole range of digital radio solutions out there that can save them tons
of recurring-cost money over Telco fractional T-1 lines, from the short
range wireless LAN I used in the conference room to connect my laptop to
the closest Texas university ethernet/internet outlets, to the 25 mile,
10mbps, no-licence, 'free' communication link Solectek radios they can use
to connect two larger institutions across town at ethernet speeds, free.

They may talk with a drawl, and play 'aw-shucks we ain't very smart' roles
in front of 'sophisticated' out-of-state experts. And be envious of cool
Colorado while it was 100 humid plus degrees in Austin. But when Texans
decide something is worth doing, they just +ACo-do+ACo- it, and everybody pulls
the wagon together over that unforgiving caliche soil.

H. C. Sonny Covington  +AEA-  I CAN+ACE- America
Grant, Management +ACY- Resource Consultants
125 S. Buchanan Street - Lafayette, LA  70501
(318) 235-7005  Fax 318-235-7602