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Front St.Trails Section - Clovis Free PressBack St.
Vol. 17  No. 21 Final Edition
Clovis Free Press

Monday March 12, 2001

Keeping Up with the e-Village
Reinventing the Quiet Foothill Lifestyle!
By Andy Patrizio

     TOLLHOUSE -- Imagine your home being equipped with video on-demand, with technology that allows you to watch your child play in the neighborhood daycare center, with an interactive community billboard that lets you make reservations at the tennis court. Imagine an entire town imbued with the idea of community and connectivity rolled into one.
     The Property Development Group is creating a new project that it calls an e-Village because it will support future growth of telecommuting and faster technology access. A historic Sierra mountain community is about to be reinvented. It is in the Sierra foothills above Clovis and will combine the various communications wires and lines that supports the new media modern communications links, like broadband and virtual private networks.
     The e-Village is a partnership involving Nortel Networks, California State University at Fresno, Chawanakee School District, Edison Utility Services, Sierra Foothills Public Utilities District, Cal-Trans, and Property Development Group.
     The idea is to unite all of the remote local Chawanakee School District and the tiny town's businesses with Fresno State University through high-speed Internet connectivity. For example, letters from the schools can go out to all parents in the community electronically rather than by regular mail. Nortel will provide the network infrastructure for the homes, replacing the multiple connections for cable television, telephone, fax and broadband Internet.
     One of the advantages is that the whole community is known to be broadband-capable and will be likely to use it, since the project is going to be marketed to telecommuters and will offer features like virtual private networks (VPNs) for connecting to work networks. "Twenty percent of our workforce telecommutes," said Greg Marrow, director of portfolio solutions for Nortel, in Boston, Massachusetts.
     "If we had those capabilities in cities where we have a bulk of our employees, it would be an option we'd look at as well," Marrow stated. An entirely wired community also means localized services. Much like France's Minitel system, e-Village does business-to-consumer commerce and broadcasting local events, like school sports.
     "This e-Village is being touted as a telecommuting village, so all of the infrastructure associated with telecommuting will be there for every resident for that community," said Marrow. "It's unlike broadband access today, where you don't know who has access to high-speed connections.
     In Madera a full-scale new e-Subdivison is already in the early stages. Ground will be broken in the June/July time frame and the first homes there should open at the end of the year. Houses are expected to start at $110,000. Property Development Group has not selected an Internet provider yet since the project is in an early stage, however, AT&T Broadband has been available in Clovis and Fresno for some time, courtesy of MediaOne, which AT&T acquired in 1999.
     Opinions on this option are mixed. Emmy Johnson, principal analyst with Synergy Research, thinks itís a natural fit for new homes. "It makes sense that they are going to start offering this, as Internet access is becoming so ubiquitous," she said. "One thing that might be beneficial is there would be ports throughout the house to make it more movable, so you don't have access in (only) one room."
     But a Silicon Valley realtor says the home is still a family place, not an Internet place. "I think it would be a great thing to have, but will it make a difference in selling homes? No," said Rita Pelache, with Alain Pinel Real Estate in Saratoga, who has helped new arrivals to the Silicon Valley. "Buyers still care more about floor plan and living, especially people with children. The main concern is still square footage, price and location, location, location."  

Letter to the Edit

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