by Robin Sukhu

This past week I participated in a meeting with Google to review our community plan for deploying a high-speed data network in Mississippi Mills.  A non–disclosure agreement prevents me from discussing specifics, but I would like to share with you my overall impressions of the experience.

On Thursday, I was a participant in a meeting between members of the Mississippi Mills Broadband Working Group and executives from Google Corporation, from their rural network deployment group, and the office of the chief technology officer.  The Google team were in their San Francisco corporate offices and Mississippi Mills Broad Band Working group members were in Mississippi Mills working for their homes.   The meeting was held on-line using Google Hangouts, an electronic “meeting room” where you see everyone in the “room” and they can see you with real time video and voice.  You can also share your computer screen so that you can put up a pictures, documents and maps and everyone can see what is on your screen.

During the meeting, two things overwhelmed me, firstly, most Mississippi Mills residents are excluded from participating in this new paradigm of commerce due to antiquated internet access, and secondly, the chances of this meeting happening between a community group and a global leading corporation without internet services like Google Hangouts are close to zero.  An in-person meeting would mean travel, expensive in time and money, beyond the resources of a volunteer community group.   It was technology itself that was allowing the Mississippi Mills Broad Band Working Group access to the global prospective of technical and business expertise that is critical in planning a community broadband deployment strategy.

The on-line meeting forum not only provided a face to face interaction, but allowed access to a vast world of on line tools, including mapping that allowed all participants to come to a rapid understanding of the geographic residency of Mississippi Mills, its proximity to the technology center Kanata, transportation patterns and allowed Google to share information regarding trends and infrastructure with our community from their San Francisco offices.

Powered by free to use technology like Google Hangouts, enabled by high-speed internet, we could discuss a potential collaboration with a global player like Google on their terms. We shared our ideas, our maps and our plans and they provided technical validation of our project and the promise of continued technical support, none of which would be possible without high speed data communication.

Google’s positive reactions to Mississippi Mills and its advantages of geography was surprising to me.  I fully expected them to dismiss the idea of technology deployment in a rural area.  But Google understands firsthand how rural internet service deployment breaks down the urban /rural barrier.  Goggle described their involvement in numerous rural projects in the US and as well as the developing world.  Their words made me realize how important it is for our community economic advancement that we work together to build a first-class broadband network accessible to all Mississippi Mills residents if we what to thrive as community,

This is just one small story of two guys from Mississippi Mills contacting a global leader to pitch an idea, discuss collaboration and maybe even get some financial investment in our town.  Imagine the possibilities when everyone in Mississippi Mills, all those budding entrepreneurs, have the same chance to sell their ideas to the world.  I have been shown that it can happen.  We can indeed sell globally.