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Tech Buzz 06/02

The future of a national broadband policy and virtual private networks for small businesses
June 1, 2002
URL: http://www.entrepreneur.com/article/51870

A chicken in every pot. Broadband for every home and business. If the Technology Network (TechNet), a group of senior technology executives, gets its way, that's what we'll be looking at in the not-too-distant future. TechNet is pushing the federal government to adopt a national broadband policy with the goal of hooking 100 million consumers and growing businesses up to 100Mbps connections by 2010. The proposal suggests implementing tax incentives and deregulation to encourage investment in the high-speed broadband infrastructure.

But Mark Cooper, director of research at the Consumer Federation of America (CFA), says TechNet is taking the wrong approach. "The private sector guys have a failure of creativity," he says. "They want to spend a lot of tax payers' dollars to roll this technology out." He suggests that the problem is a lack of compelling applications rather than a lack of broadband supply. According to Cooper, 80 percent of U.S. residents have access to broadband, but only 10 percent actually use it.

Entrepreneurs can expect to see a pitched political battle over how broadband should be rolled out. Resulting policies or deregulation could affect the quality of high-speed Internet access available to your business. Visit TechNet (www.technet.org),uthe CFA (www.consumerfed.org) and the FCC (www.fcc.gov) to keep an eye on all aspects of these issues.

If It Looks Like a Network . . .

You know you need to secure your data, and a Virtual Private Network (VPN) is a smart way to do it. Fortunately for you, low-cost VPN hardware appliances are landing in entrepreneurs' offices as manufacturers turn their attention to the small-business market. You don't need an IT department to handle these devices--VPN appliances are simple to install and easy to use.

Competitive pricing makes them affordable for any entrepreneur. For up to 30 employees, the Symantec Firewall/VPN Appliance (www.symantec.com) starts at about $350 (street) for the 100 model and tops out at $800 for the 200R. Sofaware (www.sofaware.com) offers a range of solutions from Safe@Home for five or fewer users as well as the VPN-1 Small Office NG for up to 50 users.

Whether you're protecting multiple locations or just one office, a VPN appliance is a painless path to better security.