For almost seven years now, I’ve been blogging about broadband over at Free UTOPIA. It was born out of a sense of frustration that phone and cable companies both suck, and neither of them is going to do something about it. Only a handful of cities decided to do something about it, and most of them seem to not have the stomach to really push it through, at least not to a point where other cities would do it too. I made the decision that it was time to do it myself.
Comcast drives me nuts, CenturyLink is even worse, and I didn’t want to be trapped in moving to get in on the kind of next-generation services offered by UTOPIA and now Google Fiber. That’s why I started the White City Telecommunications Cooperative in March. This week, after a few weeks of getting my ducks in a row, 2000 postcards trying to drum up interest went out to my neighbors. I really had no idea what I was doing, but it seems like the only way to reach that many people in a very short time span.
The results have been amazing. So far, less than two days into it, I’ve gotten over 40 people interested in signing up. (For those unaware, a 2% response rate to untargeted direct mail campaigns is phenomenal.) Lawyers and accountants are offering to help me setup the legal entities and books. I’ve even got a resource offering to help finance the thing. By this time next year, I could be posting from a sweet gigabit connection for not a lot more than I pay for 1/20th that speed.
I couldn’t have done this without help. Pete Ashdown, you’re a rock star. I asked if you’d cover the cost of the postcards to get things rolling and you didn’t really give it much of a second thought before saying yes. Alex Lawrence, you’re the man too. If you hadn’t invited me to Startup Weekend Ogden, I wouldn’t have thought I’d be willing and able to take on a project so much bigger than I am. Bob Derber and Dave Shaw, your offers of help in places where I’m totally weak gave me the confidence that I could actively (instead of passively) move this forward. Todd Marriott, your endless pursuit of improving broadband by whatever means are available should inspire us all.
Being comfortable sucks. I’m going into some wild and uncharted territory, and it’s both terrifying and exhilarating. You should try it and leave your own mark on the world.