Letter to the Editor: Wake Up City Leaders

Letter to the Editor: Wake Up City Leaders

— I own a business in Old Town. We are an advertising agency. We make TV commercials — the kind you like to hate, political. There are some 30 ad agencies in the cty like mine.

But we have a problem that is not being addressed.

The Internet in our town is too damn slow. (I am intentionally swearing for emphasis!) How did I discover this?

It was 5 pm about a year and a half ago and our editor every night would have to jump up and drive as fast as he could to Arlington and go in to his bedroom. He wasn’t tired; he was going over there with his computer to send our giant TV files over the Internet. In Arlington he had blazing fast Internet speed. As pictures have become HD, the size of our files are ginormous.

Then one day, our editor didn’t come back to Alexandria. He just stayed in Arlington.

He works here at my company, but he is never here. He never orders food from Old Town Deli or COSI or buys gas here or holiday presents. He’s plum gone.

Our editor from Annapolis quit coming to Alexandria. He’s in his rec room.

The editor we used from Baltimore, doesn’t come down any more because I can use editors in L.A. or Austin or Columbus. I’m not touting this approach; I’m bemoaning it.

Now our building is up for sale.

Our city has locked us into an Internet contract with Comcast that is not cutting it. I’ve mentioned this to every city official I can pigeonhole. Comcast is a fine company. But we’ve been snookered into a monopoly deal with a company that can’t give us truly high speed Internet service. Sure if you are at home sending emails to your mother, Comcast is fine. But if you’re out here trying to be competitive it’s a much different story.

So what are we talking about? At your home you probably have bought 1 mb upload speed. “Upload” is how quickly you can upload a file. The download speed can be the same or different, depending on your package. And you are “sharing the pipe” — meaning sharing the space inside the wire with your neighbors. So chances are, you have noticed things are slower after dinner when everyone and every student gets on their home Internet.

If you are a business like mine, you can buy the top service Comcast offers of 10 mb — ten times better than a home user.

But that is slow as molasses.

In Arlington right now, my editor sits in his PJs and has 40 mb upload speed. That’s four times faster than Alexandria.

Last weekend I was in Kansas City, Missouri at my sister’s house. On her counter top was a door hanger she had brought inside. It was from Google. It was reminding her to hurry and order their new service by July 15. The speed they were offering: 100 mb upload and download. As the old song goes, “Everything is up to date in Kansas City.”

After five months, the city patched a pot hole near my home. Good. But wake up people. There’s a new kind of highway in America, and it’s not asphalt. Someone needs to kick some butt and get Alexandria ready for the future.

Paul Wilson

Chairman and CEO

Wilson Grand Communications