A Practical Navigator for the Internet Economy

Five Part 75,000 word 80 page study available now at $75 per copy.

Dave Hughes, the "Cursor Cowboy" logs into the Internet, wireless, from Roger's Bar in Old Colorado City. Wireless spread spectrum modem is in Hughes's left hand.

Our study of Colorado government, big industry, and grass roots entrepreneurs shows the success of local self-reliance. We believe lessons learned are applicable nationally.

Clearly the money and political clout is found at the top. However considerable technology innovation and insight into needs of local communities is found at the grass roots. It seems that there is a great disconnect between the two. A major goal of this study is to help bridge the gap between them and to give those at the top reason to think that it could be in everyone's long term interest to pay careful attention to the grass roots. Our report should be useful to corporate strategists and planners, and to the same people at the state and local government and educational level as power shifts away from Washington. We are considering further such studies in Tennessee, Washington state and possibly Massachusetts.


During the early part of December 1994 we traveled over 1000 miles within Colorado and interviewed over two dozen people ranging from the Lieutenant Governor; to several school teachers; to one of the key implementors of the new US West business strategy known as Community of Interest Networks (COINS).

Our report tells five stories. First we summarize what is taking place in Colorado at the state level and the high end in Denver and in Boulder. This story covers Colorado Supernet, the state level ISP, and Colorado's innovative state library network. It looks at US West's ATM trials in Boulder and at the Boulder Valley Community network. It begins with a look at the Lieutenant Governor's State Telecommunications Task force. This first part is generally a description of and commentary on efforts from the top - some of which have not yet learned all the insights of bottom up planning.

The second part offers a more detailed look at a particular top down effort - the US West Teacher Network. The third examines Dave Hughes' HiCom System and decentralized, bottom-up philosophy. The fourth is a case study of the grass roots low cost technology innovation spear-headed by Dave Hughes in the San Luis Valley of Colorado. The fifth and most important is the bottom up, Community of Interest Network, learning process at US West as told to us by AJ Remsing.

We learned that while the state government was generally trying to do the right thing, it is missing some very innovative and cost effective grass roots strategies developed not at large corporations but rather at local electronic cottages. We observed one such grass roots strategist Dave Hughes who having been largely passed over from foundation grants, has developed a $6,000 Internet in a suitcase. It now appears that several school systems Colorado's remote and beautiful San Luis Valley have been able to purchase these machines. With Hughes shaving the cost of Internet connections by an order of magnitude having up to sixteen simultaneous users multiplexed out a single serial port via a V-Fast dial-up slip-connection to Colorado Supernet, the Valley is in the process of going on-line WITHOUT state, federal or foundation aid.

In another equally important development AJ REMSING, a former US West Educational Markets manager startled some observers in October by stating that US West had concluded that top down implementation of National Information Infrastructure simply would not work. Indeed that US West was convinced that bottom up was the only way to proceed. Our study concludes with a 6,000 word interview with AJ Remsing in which she tells us in detail how the COINS program was developed within US West. COINS embraces a marketing methodology of talking applications not technology; identifying local and national champions for and application; forming necessary consortia, sometimes even with competitors, to bring the most cost effective resources to bear on the application; finding an anchor tenant for the application; looking for policy solutions if there are application policy problems standing in the way of success; and seeing that the local customer has buy-in ownership and control over the design and development process. Solving LOCAL problems at the local level.

We think that such a change in thought process for such a large corporation is significant and praise worthy - especially when compared to approaches by MCI and Microsoft to roll out industrial age, mass produced NATIONAL level programs where the variety of options available to individual customers is either very small or non existent. National Information Infrastructure should be seen as LOCAL information infrastructure, that, if widely enough seeded, will eventually become national. To this end we think it highly significant that the systems being rolled out by Hughes in Colorado (since they can be administered by teachers as sys-ops) hold out the possibility of schools themselves becoming service providers, renting Web pages and offering local consulting. If schools do this then they actually become mechanisms for development of community information infrastructure. Such infrastructure will be infinitely more attractive at the psychological and economic level than any great conveyor belts in the sky offered by Bill Gates.

US West, beset by enormous consumer dissatisfaction within its serving area is learning. Northern Telecom has implemented its own bottom up strategy. Signs exist that the same bottom up strategy may be spreading to Jones InterCable. While Gore, as a national champion has been important in raising consciousness, the talk coming out of Washington has created what we believe to be a hype-filled speculative bubble. There is substance beneath the hype. Our report shows the substance in one pivotal state - Colorado in great detail.


Community of Interest Networks2

Part I - The View From The Top

Sam Cassidy's Telecommunications Commission - The Top Reaches Down3
Library Networks in Colorado - Access Colorado Library and Information Network (ACLIN)6
Guy Cook - CEO, Colorado Supernet9
Ken Klingenstein & the Boulder valley Community Network10
BATMAN and Oliver McBryan -The First Home on the Information Super Highway?14

Part II - US West's Teacher Network Project

Introduction - The Phone Company in Search of its Furture16
Where Did the Hughes Involvement in the Teacher Network Project Come From?18
Lori Reinsvold - Math and Science Teacher's Hotline BBS and Co- ordinator US West Teacher Network18
Future Directions in the US West Teacher Network Project21
The Project from the Perspective of a Colorado Springs Teacher21
Jane Prancan - Director US West Foundation23
Editor's Evaluation of the Teacher Network26
David Hughes Talks About the Distributed Model (Side Bar)27

Part III - The Distributed Model: Is It National Information Infrastructure For The Rest Of Us?

A Computer System for the Rest of Us29
Basic System Characteristics30
How Old Colorado City Communications Has Implemented This Functionality in HiCom31
The Software Side32
Defining Technology Empowerment33
Will it Work? Some Doubts From the Top34
Why it Must Work: Ed Lyell Colorado State School Board Member and Telecom Advocate35
If US West Does Not Give Colorado What It Needs Jones Intercable Will36

Part IV - NII For The Rest Of Us The San Luis Valley And Center - A Case Study

San Luis Valley History According to Dave Hughes37
Ken Russel on the Econimic History of the San Luis Valley39
Debbie Felmlee - Schoolboard Member and Local Champion for Bringing the Internet to Center41
Gary Kidd - School Superintendent43
Telecommunications & Culture - Clarice Jones School Board Member and Dave Hughes45
Terri Day - Science Teacher46
Veronica Vasquez - the Elementary School Principal and Vivian Mondragon - Business Teacher and Coordinator High School Computer Lab47
Noel Dunne: Grass Roots Economic Development in Alamosa 48
Why Denver May be Irrelevant51
Post Script to Our Visit by Dave Hughes52
Manufacturing Pcs in the Valley?53

Part V - Where Are We Headed? AJ Remsing And The Community Of Interest Network

Top Down or Bottom Up; Montana Telemedicine, State of Nebraska56
From Greenhouses to Business as Usual in 9459
New Directions on the Content Side61


1The Pueblo Colorado Applications Report to Lt. Gov. Cassidy62
2Sam Cassidy's Report to the Legislature63
3Roger Quintinanilla from Alamosa Reports on US west Teacher Training77