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I want my DSL! And I want it now!

Mississippi Musings

I’m still amazed when I send a fax. How can this machine send a duplicate of what is in my hand to a location hundreds of miles away? Still, I fax, send e-mail, surf the Web and talk via my wireless phone like a pro. My adoption of each new technology far outpaces my ability to understand how it all works.

In a few short years, my time on the Internet each day has increased from a few minutes to several hours. I trade online. I monitor client accounts online. I research investments online. I communicate with clients and colleagues online. I download forms and order materials online. This fledgling technology has blossomed into the cornerstone of my business.

And I’m not alone.

More and more people depend on their Internet connection to conduct business each day.

As more and more of my day was spent online, I became aware of the snail-like connection coming from my phone line. Every task took what seemed like eons to complete. Complicated sites filled my screen at an excruciating pace. Video was impossible. The Internet offered incredible access at my fingertips, but the pipeline was so limiting as to put it out of my reach most of the time.

I’d heard about broadband. And I’d heard about DSL and wireless Internet and streaming video. I didn’t understand any of it, but my mouth watered at the prospect of a better way.

Broadband is the term that encompasses all of the above new technologies that allow for interactive television and PC cable service — the better way.

With that in mind, I called Time Warner Cable and ordered their version of broadband, Roadrunner. This service combined a connection (the cost of my phone line) with an Internet service provider (the cost of my monthly AOL bill). Between the two, it was close to a wash. The difference was astounding. Connection to the Internet was almost instantaneous. Complicated sites quickly popped into view. I bounced from one task to another in record time. It felt like I had found the holy grail.

But I forgot one thing. This was the cable company.

Within a month’s time, the system failed me four times. One of those times lasted the better part of my work day. To add insult to injury, I was not able to report all those times, because I couldn’t get through Time Warner’s tangled, unwieldy phone system that seems designed to keep customers out! I even resorted to sending them a nasty e-mail via the phone line. I never got a response. I guess they were down, too!

One of the other office tenants in my building also uses Roadrunner. We constantly check with each other about downed service times. His latest phone call to Time Warner brought a surprise. The customer service representative suggested he have a back-up ISP! Now, there’s faith in your product!

WorldCom has jumped into the broadband game with DSL, but I don’t think it’s available around here yet. Other companies are expanding new technologies, but Mississippi appears to be last on the list for service. Being on the bottom rung for new technology is holding us back. Efficient use of the Internet depends on a fast and reliable connection. Broadband is the answer, but the kinks aren’t worked out yet for Mississippi users. And the coverage is limited to more populated areas.

I’m ready to storm the Capitol steps in Jackson. Give me broadband or give me death! I just hope nobody asks me to tell them what broadband is. Like I told you. I don’t understand it. I just use it!

Nancy Lottridge Anderson, CFA, is president of New Perspectives Inc. in Clinton, (601) 924-9828. She’s online at www.newper.com. Her column appears frequently in the Mississippi Business Journal.

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