Ghost towns across the Americas occurred with the advent of our Trans-Atlantic Railroad system. These early cities and towns were either on the tracks or they weren’t. Those that weren’t, moved. As the railroad bought “Rights of Way,” some towns gave free land in order to attract the trains, knowing without the tracks, there would be no future. So it is with the internet and fiber paths across this country today. Our Dallas leaders neglect or ignore this fact.
Our city councilpersons fretted for months as to whether Amazon was coming. They ruminated on how to house employees, how to transport them, traffic issues and all but the most important issue. Amazon wasn’t going where no train track/Fiber internet existed. They took their business to New York and Washington D.C., where internet was plentiful and an internet-based, technology company could thrive. Amazon looked before they leapt.
As companies fleeing California and the West Coast desire Dallas as their new home, the first question I get is about our poor internet. Having lived in California for over 30 years, I get their concern. Certainly, the internet in Dallas is nothing compared to that they left in Los Angeles, Silicon Valley, Seattle, Portland. Alas, with Leases signed and employees already picking out homes here, it is too late to change.
I had breakfast with my city councilman to discuss this matter recently. I explained that City of Dallas must aggressively embrace its own fiber network so that Dallas could attract future, high-tech laboratories, technology companies, start-ups, high-tech transportation or public/private partnerships with a real promise of huge internet. Major internet needs to be the battle cry before our leaders even begin to sell the other advantages Dallas has to offer, much less giving away the farm with the usual tax breaks, etc. And, tech jobs are high-paying jobs; ones we want to attract.
Dallas has long been viewed by outsiders as a Houston/like, “one trick pony” kind of a town, dependent on oil to keep it steady. Locals will argue that Dallas has banking and other things keeping us afloat. But banks are not filling up buildings on the parkway. If the real estate boom is to continue, Dallas must embrace technology. Dallas needs to seek technology companies, demonstrating that these companies are our future; perfect partners in our city’s future plan. Dallas needs to then support these businesses and the resulting workforces, filling our real estate and growing our tax base. Promising huge tax breaks and giveaways doesn’t help an internet-based company with limited internet access.
Dallas desperately needs to build its own carrier-agnostic fiber ring, injected with internet capacity from any and all carriers wishing to compete, apples to apples. None of this “up to x megabits” or any other promises. We’ve heard them for decades. Presently, we have the same old carriers running old technology on copper wire for the most part. Businesses with any moderate usage cannot run on this. Microsoft Office365 (which most everyone runs on) is a great product, not well liked in places where adequate internet doesn’t exist. This is a shame.
Dallas must simply follow the Chattanooga Choo Choo to learn why Volkswagen of North America moved to Chattanooga, TN. It was purely because that city built an “internet of dreams,” embracing technology, giving suitors true internet. All they could eat! Chattanooga got Amazon’s distribution center, as well. It covers 17 football fields and brought 1,400 jobs. Old Trammel Crow would have blushed.
I had to laugh when I learned that the City of Dallas was putting up money to begin a “Smart City” initiative. AT&T kicked in moneys, as well, ending any possible chance of a Smart City. My councilman and I discussed this frivolous waste of taxpayer moneys, as well. There exist great alternatives, but somehow, City of Dallas leaders decided AT&T was a good choice. And you wonder why tech companies have been flocking to Austin.
Bobby Vassallo, Dallas
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