IT Firms See Hope in Stimulus

by Jamie Walden  on Monday, Feb. 16, 2009 12:00 am  

The Ripple Effect

With myriad companies hemorrhaging jobs, Windstream's Rhoda said that the broadband provisions in the package might not create many jobs but could at least help stop the bleeding.

"Times are getting tight and businesses are cutting back. What these stimulus dollars could do is they could change the economics for several businesses in the chain of whatever component of the stimulus package they are," Rhoda said. "So for instance, if we were to get a significant share of stimulus dollars to build out our broadband, No. 1, we'd need more people in our engineering group to design the broadband expansion."

From there, the economic dominoes continue to topple in a positive direction.

Windstream would need to hire contractors to execute the build-outs, providing much needed circulation in the sluggish construction industry.

"And then take it all the way to the people who are providing the electronics that make the broadband network work," Rhoda said. "In theory, their orders are going to be significantly greater because of this national program. And, therefore, they're going to have to be producing more and more equipment than they are otherwise forecasting."

Another significant link in the economic chain will be the consumers who, until now, have been unable to participate in the broadband economy, Rhoda said. Welcoming them into the fold ought to inject some new blood into Internet commerce, he added.

Different Styles

Windstream and Aristotle will be major vehicles to bolster broadband connectivity in Arkansas, once fueled by the stimulus dollars.

Although the companies both offer broadband Internet access, their methods of doing so differ.

Windstream, a wireline broadband provider, trenches and lays fiber optic cabling to bring service to customers. Aristotle, on the other hand, erects towers to provide wireless Internet access – a technology called "hub and spoke," said Elizabeth Bowles, president of Aristotle Inc. and its ISP division,

Aristotle, in some cases, uses wireless mesh technology, in which individual routers relay a signal to other routers, such as the Internet access Aristotle offers in the River Market District of downtown Little Rock or the network in downtown North Little Rock hosted by Argenta Wireless.



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