By Julian Macassey
What is a utility? Utilities are services that support societies.
The word utility has many meanings, but when we talk about government provided or regulated services we have some understanding what utility means in that sense.
We understand that the power company is a utility, as well as the water company.
But basically utilities provide “communications”, connecting the society; this means bus lines, sewage works, cable TV, airports, power companies and delivery services are all utilities although we may not immediately recognize some of these as utilities. The test is: Does it help society thrive?
If you live in a place with no utilities, you have no roads, water, power etc. you are in a place where you are camping if you want to live there.
Ancient cities were cities because they provided utilities. The Romans built cities with water, sewage, roads and entertainment centers. Items that made it a city. Roman utilities gave us common words in English: aqueduct, colosseum, hippodrome, and via.
The Founding Fathers of the US, when writing the constitution understood that society, the society of the 18th Century needed utilities.
To connect the new country they needed communications and the constitution says: “To establish Post Offices and post Roads”
The US entered the 20th century with an explosion of utilities. The New Deal added electrical distribution, telephones and Interstate highways plus agencies to regulate these new utilities like the FCC, FAA, ICC and USDA. These utilities enabled the US to become the manufacturing powerhouse of the world and create an economy everyone could participate in..
Now in the 21st Century we have a new utility. Broadband Internet. It came about in the 20th Century, but in the current, century high speed internet access is being made available everywhere.
High speed internet has wider applications than the internet of twenty years ago.
Using fiber optic cables, television, radio, telephone calls, messaging, online games and movies all come down the same pipe. The fiber cable is fast enough that there are no delays in streamed content, that several applications can be used at once.
This new utility will make commerce and life in general better everywhere, just as electricity and telephones did in the mid 20th century.
–“If something is free, you’re not the customer, you’re the product.” Bruce Schneier, Data and Goliath, 2015