Internet access, as most of you know, started with dial-up modems that we used to connect to the internet using our telephone. Nearly everyone had a telephone at the time so as long as you had a local telephone number to connect to the service, you were good to go. Services like AOL provided these early connection points.
Data speeds were very slow compared to today mostly because of the old “twisted pair” copper wire that the telephones used. The telephone company tried to respond to this new need by developing DSL and ADSL technology but it was still too limited of a data speed to stream video and do the other things we take for granted today.
Along comes the cable TV industry who develops a way to provide much higher bandwidth and an “always on” connection doing away with dial-up frustrations. The fact that most people had some sort of cable TV connection made adoption of this technology very quick.
The cable industry got it’s start in the 1970’s by setting up Master Antenna Television Systems that gathered distant station signals with special antennas and added satellite services as they came along.
In Gainesville, that was the University City Cable Company. At that time, operators had to negotiate with local governments to get “right of way” approval to deploy their cable system. The city’s collected a “franchise fee” for these rights and cities like Gainesville negotiated other stipulations such as public access channels and to address service concerns.
This arrangement worked pretty well through the years as we felt that local issues could be addressed during the franchise renewal negotiations. University City Cable Company was eventually purchased by Cox Communications and lost some of this local company relationship. Then around 2011, the Florida Legislature decided that they are the sole body to control these type of franchise agreements and took away the power of Gainesville to have any control over Cox Communications in the ways that they used to.
So here we are today with the only way to get sustained high speed internet locally for residential customers is via cable. I say sustained because there are satellite internet service providers such as ViaSat that do give you a good streaming experience but your speed is capped once you consume 100 GB in a month. I consider us a normal streaming household, we stream several hours of video each day as well as almost constantly streaming audio and we average about 350 GB each month.