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Old 03-31-2011, 04:43 PM
 
Location: Durango, CO
939 posts, read 807,751 times
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Quote:
Originally Posted by jazzlover View Post
I think a whole lot of telecommuters in rural areas are going to be in for a very rude awakening in a few years. First, capital shortages--both public and private--are likely going to gut expansion of the high-speed networks necessary for telecommuting. Some telecom companies have nearly halted upgrading/expansion in areas with a sparse and widely-spaced customer base. Satellite, which was supposed to be the savior in many of those areas, is proving to be much less reliable and robust as people thought it would be. Cellular/wi-fi is likely to suffer from the same capital shortages. The cellular industry is already showing signs of "maturity"--where gaining customer base by devouring competitors is preferred over expanding service in marginally profitable areas. Increasingly talked about in rural areas are "public/private" partnerships--meaning that the telecommunication company won't upgrade or expand service without a taxpayer subsidy.

Add to the mix that because many telecommuter occupations can be performed in varied places, that also means (regrettably) that many such jobs can be outsourced overseas. I've heard complaints from some people who have worked in telecommuting jobs stating that they were either threatened with pay cuts or outright layoff thanks to their company's ability to outsource jobs overseas.

The final issue, which I see no one on this forum willing to confront, is the fact that many so-called telecommuting jobs still require the employee to periodically travel to home or regional offices for one purpose or another on a fairly regular basis. Available (albeit often high-priced) air service from rural areas is frequently a necessity for that travel--and I seriously doubt that continuing provision of those airline schedules is going to remain viable in many rural spots as our devolvement into very high energy prices marches forward.
Jazzlover: with all due respect, I do value your advice & insight. However, I am a 37 year veteran of the telecommunications industry. I sell the IP & optical equipment that all modern networks are built from. Your prognostications are not accurate. I live it everyday & not only is it booming, it is being driven even further by the Federal Broadband Stimulus funding that runs through the next several years. Carriers large & small are using stimulus money to expand and build out wireless & wireline broadband plant to deliver massive amounts of bandwidth. I mostly work with the small rural carriers known as Tier 3's (the smallest of the small). They primarily serve rural areas & consist of Telcos, CLEC's, ISP's, CableCos, and others who sell data, voice , and/or video services in some way. Fortunately it's recognized that expanded broadband deployment in the US is in our vital national interest. The US currently ranks 15th in broadband deployment worldwide.

United States Finishes 15th in Global Broadband Ranking | Speed Matters Internet Speed Test

At any rate, telecommuting will become ever more important as more companies realize how much money investments in real estate & really cost them. Those costs dwarf the cost of building, running, and expanding the IP networks behind telecommuting & broadband. This is not an industry in a downturn or close to it by any stretch of the imagination. The year 2000 internet bubble burst is long gone and more importantly, the carriers have all been shaken out so the ones that remain are viable companies.

If you are a telecommuter & can live someplace like Durango, that's a pretty damn good scenario. The internet tools I use eliminate much of the travel anymore. Oh, and as a telecommuter, I'm lucky to see the inside of a corporate HQ maybe once or twice a year. Companies that use telecommuting typically only offer it on jobs it's suitable for. Not everyone can or is allowed to telecommute so anybody who needs to rack up travel costs to get a to a HQ frequently won't be allowed to telecommute, they need to work from the office, just common sense business. Telecommuting itself will continue to grow as companies use it to cut costs. Yes, the travel industry will slowly wither in spots. That's a natural byproduct of technology in general and would have happened anyway, natural selection if you will. But like so much of what we experience these days, that will be part of the "new normal".

Anyway, demand for higher & higher speed services continues to grow while both wireless & wireline network technologies keep getting faster & cheaper. Until you can break people of the "addiction" they have with cell phones & the internet, the demand will always be there.

BTW, I would have been retired 2 years ago, but broadband telecom looked so good for the foreseeable future, I decided to work another 4-5 years.

SoButCounty
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Old 03-31-2011, 10:23 PM
 
Location: Everywhere and Nowhere
14,141 posts, read 16,486,511 times
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I've been hearing this argument about telecommuting jobs being easy to outsource overseas but have seen little evidence of it. In fact just the opposite. My SO who telecommutes like I do is now handling more and more of her company's overseas business. We Americans are actually pretty attractive compared to European workers who are highly unionized with a lot more work rules. Plus if you have a job that requires a security clearance, say in govt. IT, they can't offshore it. I predict the government itself will be virtualizing a lot more of its workforce in the not too distant future. With secure VPNs and encryption one can work securely from just about anywhere.
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Old 04-01-2011, 09:13 PM
 
Location: Durango, CO
939 posts, read 807,751 times
Reputation: 1546
Quote:
Originally Posted by CAVA1990 View Post
I've been hearing this argument about telecommuting jobs being easy to outsource overseas but have seen little evidence of it. In fact just the opposite. My SO who telecommutes like I do is now handling more and more of her company's overseas business. We Americans are actually pretty attractive compared to European workers who are highly unionized with a lot more work rules. Plus if you have a job that requires a security clearance, say in govt. IT, they can't offshore it. I predict the government itself will be virtualizing a lot more of its workforce in the not too distant future. With secure VPNs and encryption one can work securely from just about anywhere.
Bingo!

SoButCounty
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Old 04-01-2011, 10:55 PM
 
8,177 posts, read 16,209,860 times
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With all due respect to SoButCounty--and I do respect his opinions--there are lot of places in this country, and western Colorado is one of them, where the "broadband revolution" is semi stalling out. And it's some basic business issues that are making that happen. Simply stated, broadband networks, like any other infrastructure, require a substantial customer base to be viable. In many areas of the Rocky Mountain West, that density of customer base just is not there. If you live right in one of western Colorado's rural communities, yes, you have some availability. But, for the Colorado wannabe's who dream about living out on some acreage and happily telecommuting--well, that can be a different story.

Let me illustrate by example: Several years ago, a friend of mine decided to move out of a western Colorado town to a small rural subdivision about 8 miles from town. No CATV service, no DSL. The land-line telephone carrier (Qwest) promised that DSL would be available in his subdivision within two years. That was eight years ago--they say now that they have "no definite timetable" to expand DSL to his area. No s***! His only option for broadband in all that time was satellite, which was expensive, unreliable, and had horrible upload speeds. Finally, a Wi-Fi network was set up to serve his area. It is more reliable than satellite, but still has numerous outages. It costs 2 1/2 times what I pay for my in-town broadband connection. This is by no means an isolated circumstance in the rural Rocky Mountain West, no matter what people say in the rest of the country. Hell's bells, it's only been in about the last 3 years that some places got away from only having analog cell service. Up until about a year ago, there were plenty of places that I travel in the Rocky Mountain West where my tri-band cell phone would roll over to analog because that was the only service available--and in a lot places, there was/is no service at all. The guys with Blackberries might as well of been carrying a rock.

There is one final note that I will make about this, and it likely will not make lot of Colorado wannabes very happy. Most of the telecommuter types that I meet in rural Colorado who have moved here from someplace else are fairly content so long as they have easy mobility to "get out"--for vacation, to visit family, to shop, whatever--anytime that they choose. Well, when those cheap, happy days of being able to travel hither and yon at the drop of a hat come to a screeching a** halt with the explosion of energy prices and/or shortages, those folks are going to find rural Colorado one hell of a lot less attractive. For me, I don't have to and I don't want to gallivant all over the country (or even go to Denver) more than about once a year, but most transplants, quite bluntly, don't have that mentality.
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Old 04-01-2011, 11:17 PM
 
Location: Everywhere and Nowhere
14,141 posts, read 16,486,511 times
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Quote:
Originally Posted by jazzlover View Post
There is one final note that I will make about this, and it likely will not make lot of Colorado wannabes very happy. Most of the telecommuter types that I meet in rural Colorado who have moved here from someplace else are fairly content so long as they have easy mobility to "get out"--for vacation, to visit family, to shop, whatever--anytime that they choose. Well, when those cheap, happy days of being able to travel hither and yon at the drop of a hat come to a screeching a** halt with the explosion of energy prices and/or shortages, those folks are going to find rural Colorado one hell of a lot less attractive. For me, I don't have to and I don't want to gallivant all over the country (or even go to Denver) more than about once a year, but most transplants, quite bluntly, don't have that mentality.
Well they'll certainly be better off than all the poor saps who have to drive to work every day.
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Old 04-02-2011, 12:20 PM
 
8,177 posts, read 16,209,860 times
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Quote:
Originally Posted by CAVA1990 View Post
Well they'll certainly be better off than all the poor saps who have to drive to work every day.
People living in exurban or rural areas will be in no better position if they have to drive 20, 30, or 40 miles (or more) round trip to get to the grocery store, pharmacy, doctor, hardware store, etc. Not to mention things like specialized medical services, which can mean round trip drives of 300-700 miles from some locales to a metro area. That is no fun, even when fuel was cheap, and I have had to do it during my residency in rural Colorado--and most people who live here for any length of time wind up having to do it at some point--often repeatedly and/or frequently. I've made a conscious decision to live in a rural Colorado town where I can walk to shopping, to medical services, and to work if I have to.

Fact is, when exploding fuel prices really do get here--say, $6-$8 per gallon for motor fuel, it will completely alter the economic and social geography of the United States, and a lot of places like rural Colorado will sink back into pretty dramatic geographic isolation. It is my opinion that such a transition is now inevitable--it's just a question of how soon it gets here; my guess is within a decade or less. Truth is, just one big dustup in the Middle East and we could be there anytime.

And Durango is one of the places in Colorado strung out the farthest at the end of the transportation chain--totally dependent on trucking for goods, with lousy passenger transportation options other than the automobile (I don't even count air service as a future option, because rural air service will be the first thing to go when fuel really skyrockets). It will be in even worse shape for transportation options than it was three-quarters of a century ago. At least back then it had narrow-gauge rail freight and passenger service that connected with the outside world.
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Old 04-02-2011, 01:21 PM
 
Location: Everywhere and Nowhere
14,141 posts, read 16,486,511 times
Reputation: 6483
I think you're engaging in some pretty wild histrionics. The folks in Durango are relatively well off and I'm sure will be able to absorb the additional cost. Believe me there are a lot of other people in other places (like the exurbs of most major cities) who will be in a lot worse shape if energy costs were to increase significantly.
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Old 04-02-2011, 05:41 PM
 
Location: Everywhere and Nowhere
14,141 posts, read 16,486,511 times
Reputation: 6483
Quote:
Originally Posted by jazzlover View Post
It will be in even worse shape for transportation options than it was three-quarters of a century ago. At least back then it had narrow-gauge rail freight and passenger service that connected with the outside world.
As an aside, there was for awhile standard gauge railroad between Durango and Farmington. It was converted to narrow gauge in 1921. The rail yard in town from 1905 to some time after 1921 was set up with both gauge tracks to handle both.
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Old 04-02-2011, 05:59 PM
 
8,177 posts, read 16,209,860 times
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Quote:
Originally Posted by CAVA1990 View Post
As an aside, there was for awhile standard gauge railroad between Durango and Farmington. It was converted to narrow gauge in 1921. The rail yard in town from 1905 to some time after 1921 was set up with both gauge tracks to handle both.
Yes, the thinking was that a standard gauge line would eventually be built from Alamosa to Durango. Numerous surveys were conducted for alternative routes. In a last ditch attempt to fund standard gauging of several narrow gauge lines, a ballot initiative was made in the early 1920's to publicly fund the building of what later would be the Moffat Tunnel on the standard-gauge Denver & Salt Lake RR west of Denver, a standard gauge tunnel under Marshall Pass that would have allowed standard-gauging of the line from Salida to Gunnison and Crested Butte, and a standard gauge tunnel somewhere west of Alamosa (a couple of different proposed locations) to allow standard gauging of the line to Durango. Pueblo lobbied fiercely against the initiative because they feared (correctly) that a direct standard-gauge connection to the west of Denver that would not have to traverse Rollins Pass would eventually render the line west of Pueblo to secondary status. The ballot initiative failed, in part because of Pueblo opposition, and the Marshall Pass and Cumbres tunnels were never built and the lines never standard-gauged. The standard gauge line to Farmington was "narrow-gauged" after that, in 1923. The narrow-gauge west of Chama, New Mexico to Durango, thence to Farmington operated until 1968--rails were removed in 1970. Since then, the famous Silverton Branch has been an isolated railroad, nearly 100 miles from the nearest railroad connection. And, yes, I saw the line from Chama to Durango to Farmington when it was still in operation, and several old friends who actually worked as trainmen, firemen, and engineers on that line.

Ironically, the Arkansas River flood that destroyed a good chunk of Pueblo in 1921 led to the Moffat Tunnel being built west of Denver. The ballot initiative to authorize bonds to build the Pueblo flood control project subsequent to the flood also contained the bonding authority to build the Moffat Tunnel--a delicious little piece of political maneuvering that assured that Pueblo voters would not vote against the Moffat Tunnel project a second time.
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Old 04-02-2011, 06:08 PM
 
938 posts, read 1,269,807 times
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20,000 miles at 20 mile per gallon would take 1,000 gallons and something around that usage may be fairly typical. If gasoline prices went up $1 per gallon, then give up another $1,000 for that usage. Up $4, give up $4,000. Your mileage and cost can vary. That is either a lot or perhaps "back-breaking" to many people. But not that bad to a relative few.

I agree that energy prices for gasoline and electricity will affect how the west and rural west develops from here (as it has to some degree already) but I am not as clear about the scale and the speed of price change and impact on population, the economy and the development pattern.


"Projected regular-grade gasoline retail prices rise from a national average of $2.78 per gallon in 2010 to $3.56 per gallon in 2011 and $3.57 per gallon in 2012, although there is considerable variation within and between regions.

...The projected monthly average regular gasoline price peaks this year at $3.75 per gallon in June."

From the U.S. Department of Energy March 8, 2011 http://www.eia.doe.gov/emeu/steo/pub/contents.html


Things could change fast but $6-8 per gallon gasoline is probably more likely between 5-10 years off (consistent with jazzlover's "within a decade") and longer off than sooner than 5 years. Any links to good articles on long-range oil or gasoline price predictions would be appreciated.

I see where the price of oil futures for delivery 5+ years off are right now and they don't seem too scary or scared at the moment. Even 10-20 years out several forecasts by government and financial companies I found were far lower than I expected to see. A report by Washington published this month projects gas prices to be at $4.61 in 2027 and not consistently over $4 per gallon until 2017. http://www.ofm.wa.gov/budget/info/Ma...sposummary.pdf
See page 16. Of course they may be wrong or way wrong but I assume they availed themselves of the best current research.

Last edited by NW Crow; 04-02-2011 at 07:36 PM..
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