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Mason County News
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Our Connection to the World
Wednesday, October 6, 2010 • Posted October 6, 2010

Last week, I included an article about a grant/loan that Hill Country Telecommunications received that will allow them to upgrade the high speed internet access to their entire service area. Many folks may have skimmed over it without realizing just how important that item really was.

Since I moved back to Mason 15 years ago, the technology options in our little community have grown by leaps and bounds. In 1995, there was NO local internet access. Cell phones had caught on, and if you could get a signal, you actually used them to talk to other people. The school had one or two computers in each classroom, though they were slow and only had limited software on them.

Today, you can get high speed internet via multiple carriers. That signal can come through fiber optic cable, over the phone line, through local wireless, over your cable connection, or from a satellite. That internet is always on, always fast, and has more offerings than could even have been dreamed of in 1995.

It seems that everyone now has a cell phone; but, many use it only sporadically for talking to someone else. Instead, the phones are used for texting, for browsing the internet, for getting directions or for playing games.

Up at school, there are computers everywhere you look. The are PCs and there are Macs, desktops and laptops. All of them are connected to the main network, and all of them have access to the internet. And, much of the latest curriculum requires not just a textbook; but, also involves software or links to websites that keep the lessons current and up to date.

It seems everyone now has a digital camera, some type of high tech device, or is at least connected to people that can do those things for them. We don't count on word of mouth to let people know how big our bucks are, we post the pictures on facebook and let them spread across the internet. We don't wait till we get home to send someone a message about how our football team did, we put it on email and let everyone know all at once.

And then there is the grant that HCTC got as part of the stimulus package. It will allow that little hill country cooperative to expand their network throughout their service area so that all of us will be able to use those gadgets and devices we've become addicted to, no matter where we go. Hill Country already provides high speed DSL in isolated parts of our county, and this grant will allow them to upgrade lines and equipment to handle even higher speeds and more data.

If you're still scratching your head and wondering how this affects you, look back over the last 15 years and apply the lessons we've learned. Our children have access to the same educational opportunities once available only in urban areas. Our businesses can offer their goods and services to anyone connected to the web, and the marketing costs are far lower than what it once would have been. Our residents can communicate with just about anyone in the world with just a few mouse clicks, and have a response in moments rather than days.

We now promote our hunting, our lodging and our tourist sites online. We no longer have to hope someone passes through town on their way elsewhere, they can find us on the web and make us their destination. And, when they get here, they find a community that still has small town sensibilities; but, with big city capabilities!

We are being handed the tools to mold our future. Now it's up to us to use them wisely.

It’s all just my opinion.

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