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Letters to the Editor: A Public Forum
Fiber
Wednesday, August 14, 2013 • Posted August 17, 2013

Fiber Optic internet access at home in Mason?

We sure hope so.  This is an opportunity for Mason to be at the leading edge of internet access capabilities.  Hill Country Telecommunications (HCTC) wants to bring Fiber Optic here, to our homes, and that would put us ahead of most of the country in terms of internet access. We have an opportunity here folks, for all of us.

HCTC sent out a survey in the form of a mailer last month, it probably hit the trash with the rest of the junk mail at your house, too. Please fill it out at www.masonfiber.me, it takes about five minutes, two if you can type.

Why are we asking you to do this?  Please read on.

(Disclaimer: the authors are semi-serious geeks, and are not being compensated by HCTC. We don’t even know those people.)

Your first question might be “how much will this cost?”. HCTC is trying to figure that out now, and your survey response will help them determine that, even if your answer is “not interested”.

Then lets move on to fiber optics and why we’re excited about it.

It used to be that telephone conversations were carried on copper wire between switching centers, and then on more wire from the switching centers to your house. Well, researchers figured out how to use light waves to transmit voice and data through strands of glass fiber. It turns out one can transmit hundreds of times more information over one piece of this fiber than over a copper wire.  So now, virtually all those copper phone lines between switching centers are gone and are replaced by fiber (mostly underground).

The fiber stops at the phone company switching centers, from there to your house its back to copper. Not until recently is this “last mile” of fiber being installed into neighborhoods to connect individual homes directly to the fiber network.

So, what might that mean? 

Internet access With fiber optic internet access, you can have 10 to 30 (or more) times the data transmission rate (bandwidth) you normally get with DSL service over a copper phone line. As more things become internet based, the speed we had last year isn’t quite fast enough today (remember working over dial-up modems?).

Business Opportunity Having the additional capacity of the fiber networks means potential business opportunities for Mason in the form of Web-based business and the location here of services such as specialized data centers, call centers, or server banks.

Telephone Your home land line already goes over fiber on calls that leave town. Your call will simply connect to the fiber at your house instead of theirs. You can keep your number.

Video & TV Many folks subscribe to internet streaming services such as Netflix, Amazon Video, Hulu, etc. that provide movies and replays of  TV programs. Today’s bandwidth is barely sufficient for high definition, and you get pauses (buffering) in the show because the stream of data is too slow. That won’t be an issue with the fiber network, even when watching three different shows at once.

It could even mean another World Premier event at the Odeon Theatre, only this time with live global TV coverage.

So, if you’d like to see Mason on the leading edge of Internet capability, you need to let HCTC know.  If they don’t get sufficient interest, we’ll miss an incredible opportunity.

Keith Kaan (too bad the fiber won’t reach my house as I’m not in the city, but I’m cheering for you!)

Mathew Haley

Tom Titus (I’m outside the city, too, but see real economic benefit to the community if this happens)

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