Tuesday, November 1, 2016
HIGH SPEED INTERNET IN EVERY UNIT - THE CHOICE WILL BE YOURS
Posted: 6:03 p.m. Tuesday, Nov. 1, 2016
It’s not easy for people who are ahead of their time.
Galileo’s breakthrough celestial theories got him locked up. Jackie Robinson’s entry into an all-white baseball league got him taunted and booed. And David Israel’s move to bring high-speed internet to every unit in Century Village is getting him mocked as a man pursuing “pipe dreams” at others’ expense.
Israel, the president of the condo association for the sprawling West Palm Beach condo complex, has always been a little more tech savvy than the average resident there. And his efforts to bring Century Village into the current century is not going over so smoothly.
“WIFI and broadband are something new that residents should get a chance to consider before agreeing to opt in,” wrote Neil J. Moore, the editor of the Century Village Messenger, a newspaper that frequently criticizes Israel’s leadership. “WIFI was soundly defeated twice at the delegates assembly and our sister village in Boca Raton gave it the heave ho after spending a ton of money on it.”
By Israel’s estimate, about 25 percent of the residents in Century Village’s 7,854 units are using internet service on a daily basis. Some of the buildings in the condo complex have what Israel considers inadequate and underhanded hookups using the existing Comcast wiring.
“Another company came in here and wired up service. The buildings have one 100 megabits box that serves 80 units,” he said. “It works OK if all you’re doing is sending an email to your grand kid, but once all those people start streaming Netflix movies it’s going to crash out.”
You see? Israel’s imagining a day when Century Villagers are going to be gobbling up so many megabits-per-second from streaming services on their theoretical future 4K flat-screen TV sets and portable electronic devices, that they’re going to thank him.
But right now, he’s just getting a lot of grief from residents who like paying just $5 a month for internet service, no matter how slow it is.
Or as resident Gary Olman put it: Israel is “imposing his WIFI dream on us without permission.”
The wireless internet debate has become germane because the condo complex is negotiating a new 10-year cable TV deal. And the company, Atlantic Broadband, has agreed to install a 100-megabits-per-second box in every Century Village unit as part of cable-TV package for the entire Village.
Century Villagers would be getting quite a deal: Cable TV, including HBO, would be $27 a month, and the option to include high-speed internet service would be another $17 a month.
“Everybody is charged for cable,” Israel said. “It’s part of our basic agreement.”
And spending $17, instead of $5 for real high-speed internet is a bargain, he said, far less than the going rate outside the Village.
“We’re not forcing it on anyone,” he said. “But this would give everybody here the option to have WIFI in their apartment.”
There’s a “Say No to WIFI” petition circulating in the Village, and also — oddly enough — on the Internet through a Facebook page. There’s also a Village blog where some residents are venting.
“Out of our 24 units, only 8 have computers out of which 2 only use it for Solitaire,” wrote resident Dan Gladstone. “Our very senior owners, the 97 years old tops them all, do not care for the 21st-century electronics.”
I suspect in another 10 or 20 years, this debate will seem quaint.
But for now, the 20th Century soldiers on in Century Village, despite its trail-blazing leader, who is getting a taste of what it’s like to be too forward-thinking for your own good.