After our visit to EHX and some follow-ups around Orlando, we headed off for some relaxation on the barrier islands just off Sarasota.
We found ourselves in several conversations that make us think broadband is moving toward the mainstream. Or maybe it's just the people we talked to in the 50+ age-group who just can't live without it.
-Scene 1: We're having breakfast at the Hyatt Hotel in Sarasota and get into a conversation with the couple at the next table. They're from the UK (near London), use a cable modem from Telewest, and were worrying about the perilous financial situation for cable providers in the UK and what impact it would have on their service. They couln't imagine being without it.
-Scene 2: We looked at a condo for sale on Longboat Key. We spoke with the owner, an elderly gentleman who was disabled by a stroke many years ago. We saw he had a computer and asked if broadband service was available. He told us he is an avid broadband user, and said having a computer and online service "saved my life". Because of his difficulty in getting around, broadband is his main connection with the world.
-Scene 3: While driving with a realtor, Geri Kates from buyersbroker.com, who was showing us the condos currently on the market, we ask about her experiences using online services. She explains how she has Road Runner cable modem service and has upgraded to their higher-priced business service so she can have more consistent performance.
When we told her our priority to have broadband service in a condo for a southern getaway, she said "I've lost sales in older neighborhoods because so many people have someone who works at home and they loved the house but couldn't buy it because they HAD to have broadband".
-Scene 4: The Farmers' Market in Sarasota on a Saturday morning. We are eyeing some very real-looking silk flower arrangements in oriental containers. As we talk with the couple selling them, we learn they are from our home state of New Jersey, used to have an import/export business and have retired to Florida. They sell their flower arrangements on the Web and are broadband users. They tell us they're glad they're still using their AOL Web address for business, because of the transition problems experienced by Comcast as they moved from @Home to Comcast's own email service. (ps--we bought an arrangement!)
Lest you think that all we saw and talked about was broadband, we did pause to linger by the beach for some libations, eat in some funky restaurants...
...and enjoy some great sunsets.