When Wayne Frelund wanted fast Internet access for his Denver homebased contracting business, he looked to the new home he would be building for himself-one of nine he built for the Lowry project, a new community under construction on a former Air Force base in the heart of Denver.
Among the amenities featured in the 4,000 new homes planned for the Lowry project is a high-speed fiber optic communications network designed to create a community "intranet." These "fiber sidewalks" will allow residents to chat with other residents, check their kid's grades at school, enroll in community college programs or order groceries from the local market. For home office owners, the new service will mean constantly connected, high-speed Internet service with no dial-up connections and no more slow downloads that can be the bane of even 56k modem users.
"Everybody wants the service," says Frelund, president of Windham Custom Homes Inc., and one of the first to have the DSL service in the new community. "The service is one of the reasons why people are moving here. People have Palm Pilots and powerful computers. They all want high-speed access."
In the coming years, Frelund, who has three employees and four computers on a local area network, will not be alone. A survey of the current 300 households in Lowry showed that 7 percent of households say they work from home, says Hilarie Portell, marketing director with the Lowry Redevelopment Authority. Whether it's for homebased entrepreneurs, after-hours freelancers or teleworkers, the increased speed will be a boon to homebased workers-and a new community trying to lure residents, she says.
"We view technology as a core amenity for the community," says Portell, who will be moving to Lowry with her teleworking husband later this year. "It's every bit as important as having parks, school and retail services. Telecommunications is an amenity people can get at Lowry that they can't get in other Denver neighborhoods."
Expect to see more such wired communities in the coming years, says Kurt Esbenson, Colorado market manager with USWest. And the cost for DSL is only slightly more than traditional dial-up connections, he says. USWest's 56 Kbps dial-up runs $19.95 per month; the DSL service-with access topping 256 Kbps-costs $29.95 per month, he says. With increased competition and greater penetration of high-speed networks into more neighborhoods, an increasing number of home office workers will have access to these services in the coming years. Esbenson explains, "Wired communities are the standard for new development areas."
Journalist and author Jeff Zbar has worked from home since the 1980s. He writes about home business, teleworking, marketing, communications and other SOHO issues.