Pallegram | #9

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Out Into the Countryside – Bandwidth as a Killer Feature

It seems that the discussions that have been going on for years regarding the transport revolution and new forms of mobility are being conducted by a very urban minority. We should finally start thinking about how we can not just make our cities more appealing places to live. After all, apart from lifestyle magazines that aim to make people yearn for the countryside, I have the feeling that small towns and villages are mainly viewed as having been left behind. This has to change!

Before we get down to the nitty gritty, I would like to start by asking for your forgiveness. For the fact that I fit that description perfectly, and have repeatedly confirmed this through my comments and articles. When it comes to mobility, it seems that I was only able to think of the urban version, and that is only half of the picture, at least if we consider where Germans live!

In Germany, about 78 percent of the population currently lives in cities, although we could of course ask ourselves what qualifies as a city and whether we have the same idea of what a city is? After all, city charters are awarded to communities of 2,000 inhabitants or more, and if I think about the fact that there are almost seven million people living in my adopted urban home, this concept is anything but clearly defined.

At some point in the past, I decided that if I can walk through the center of a "settlement" in half an hour… no offense, but for me that is a small town at best. OK, in Germany you have a large city if there are 100,000 or more inhabitants and a metropolis for 500,000 or more… but with all due respect, I can even walk through downtown Stuttgart in 30 minutes.

This means that I still assume that about half of the population lives in more rural areas… for now. The process of urbanization is still ongoing, our cities are filling up (with a few exceptions) and the associated problems (living space, rents, mobility) are not getting any better.

And this is exactly what we have to tackle!

As I already said in my commentary on independent mobility, we are very good at lifting ourselves up over the individual needs of others, and that is exactly what I do not want to do at all. But at least titillate a little, by claiming that the village of the future requires the fastest available broadband connections, and the most widely available and high-speed wifi. And free of charge ideally!

Anyone in the western world who, in the year 2020, still doesn't understand that Maslow's Hierarchy of Needs is ultimately based on fast internet access has either been deep sea diving for the last 20 years or simply has no interest in the fact that we are transforming from a service-based economy to a society based on information and knowledge.

If I take a train from Hanover or Hamburg to Berlin or from Stuttgart to Munich, I get the feeling that edge is the new offline. The mobile communications masts in rural regions don't offer much more, although the opposite seems to be the case in Southeast Asia. I had the please of visiting fishing villages in Indonesia's Komodo National Park that offered me 4G+ 120mbit downstream speeds. And this was more than four hours by boat from the nearest settlement.

And that is exactly what I would like to see in Germany. No, we don't need a mobile Gigabit network everywhere, but why aren't we connecting villages and small towns to the complete knowledge of humanity with fiber optic cables?

Why don't we do this to give young people and families the opportunity to combat the trend of people moving away from rural areas? Affordable living space, clean air, local recreation areas and a safe environment for children aren't bad arguments, don't you think?

Given the trend toward working from home (as well as the entitlement enshrined in some employment contracts), a high-speed network represents a unique opportunity to boost the appeal of rural areas, combat gentrification, and yes, also preserve a little tradition and culture.

Smart Cities are nice, but I want us to finally tackle the concept of the smart and connected village.

Our cities are already full enough!

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Sascha Pallenberg

At the age of four Sascha sat for the first time at the 24h race at the Nordschleife. Ten years later, in 1985, he went online for the first time. At least for a month, because then the phone bill surprised his parents. But at least this time still forms the foundation for his passion for the intersection of mobility and the digital world.

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