As we reported back in May, Cedar Falls Utilities (CFU) now offers citywide gigabit broadband. Mudd Advertising is one local company poised to take full advantage of the new blazing speeds. Mudd invited officials from CFU into its studio for a live panel discussion about the new gigabit service and what it means for the community. The video is embedded below and is available via MuddTV – look for the 6/19/2013 archived show.
When asked what gigabit service means for the community, CFU’s Director of Business Management Rob Houlihan said “We have a lot of businesses that transfer huge files to and from their customers and this enables them to do even more of that activity.” Houlihan elaborated by saying that gigabit broadband opens up “a whole new host of opportunities for them to innovate.”
The panel was moderated by Mudd’s Gary Kroeger and consisted of Steve Bernard, Director of Business Development, Robert Houlihan, CFU’s Network Services Manager, and Rob Mudd, President of Digital Media and Chief Futurist of Research and Development for Mudd Advertising.
Mr. Mudd followed Houlihan’s lead by explaining what gigabit broadband means to Mudd Advertising: “Anytime that you can communicate to the world via video, live, with no buffering, no latency, anywhere in the world that you pick, that gives an advertising agency, or anybody that has a message to tell people, a leg up.” He went on to explain how the live panel itself, along with similar demonstrations they recently conducted from Bangkok, Moscow and Shanghai, are examples of what gigabit connectivity brings his company.
CFU’s Steve Bernard made a telling remark when asked how to explain the seeming anomaly of a small town in Iowa having such world-class infrastructure on par with only a few major global cities. The simplicity of his answer was telling:
“We’re a municipally owned utility, so we’re owned by the citizens in town. And that’s who we answer to and that’s our job, to try to be with them and stay ahead of them. You’ve mentioned the Mudd Group is a very innovative organization, it’s folks like that we’re trying to serve and stay ahead of.”
In other words, CFU’s focus on meeting the needs of local stakeholders, as opposed to absentee shareholders, is what led it to bring world-class communications infrastructure to its small-town community in Iowa. Bernard went on to note that CFU’s decision to provide high-speed broadband is a “natural progression” from providing water to the community back in 1888. Houlihan jumped in to add that high-speed broadband is an “essential service” that the community relies on.
Pushed for more examples of how gigabit connectivity can be useful, Bernard pointed to a local assisted living center developing in-home diagnostic and sensor technology to monitor resident health and safety around the clock. He also pointed out that such critical applications require the highest level of network reliability, a criteria easily met by CFU’s citywide fiber-to-the-premises.
I was pointed to this video by Jim Sartorius, Mudd’s Chief Information Officer, when I interviewed him about what CFU’s fiber network meant to his company. When I asked him specifically whether CFU helped Mudd save money, he chuckled and then explained Mudd’s efforts to establish an office in Chicago with similar live production and distribution capabilities as its Cedar Falls headquarters. After identifying what seemed like the perfect location in one of Chicago’s suburbs, their plans were foiled by the prohibitive cost of connecting the facility with fiber. After many months of searching, they were forced into a much more expensive space in downtown Chicago with the necessary fiber capability. Sartorius concluded by pointing out how easy and afforable it is for a business in Cedar Falls to obtain the type of high-speed broadband it took him months to locate in the greater Chicago area at much greater cost. And he thanked CFU for that fact.