by John Ogren, Founder and CEO
An internet service provider (ISP), SpeedConnect, the company I and my partners founded in 2001, is in the business of delivering an IP address to our customers.
IP stands for “Internet Protocol,” and is one of the building blocks of the World Wide Web. Despite stories and memes that famous politicians invented the internet, in fact, the fundamental structure of what today we simply call “the internet” was developed by many people, and is as much an evolution as an invention. The U.S. government and ARPANET (Advanced Research Projects Agency Network) can take a lot of credit, but I think the work of scientists Robert Kahn and Vinton Cerf, often goes unrecognized, as the architects of the key building blocks we still use today.
IP addresses are public, not owned by anyone, but registered to ISPs and allocated to internet users. One cannot use the internet without an IP address. What an IP address does and where it goes is tracked and available for anyone who knows how to view it. Therefore, many various forms of high encryption are used to protect private information. But wrongful or illegal uses can pretty quickly be identified.
When we started our business and in order to grow our customer base, often we would spend our time trying to convince people that they needed an internet connection. Today, fifteen years later, nearly everybody has a connection, and most people have more than one. Access to the internet – really access to an IP address – has become indispensable to our daily lives.
Today SpeedConnect has more competitors than it once had customers. It seems everybody wants to be in our business! In fact, because now one can do just about anything with an IP address, from talking on the telephone, to watching TV, to completing a tax return, banking, shipping, research, earning college degrees, working, raising kids, protecting the house, the pets and recording all the memories in one place; just about all technology and communications companies are converging into a common industry group, the ISP. Really, if you think about it, what is the difference between Comcast, Verizon, AT&T, T-Mobil, Charter, or smaller regional companies like SpeedConnect? Not much. Often what we have in common is more than our differences. We all deliver an IP address to our customers and help them use it.
In fact, as an indication of just how much has changed, often SpeedConnect is used as a backup internet service to one of our bigger competitors. For many people, one IP address through one service provider is no longer enough. And most businesses without a reliable internet connection close their doors. If there is an outage, gas stations cannot pump gas, pizza restaurants cannot take orders and sell pizzas, and banks simply turn off the lights. An IP address and a fast connection to the internet are sometimes even more important than power, so smart businesses want a backup. Many government agencies and large institutions require it as a matter of law. Fascinating!
I think SpeedConnect is unique. We are in a very competitive business, but in a lot of ways we were here first. We have always been a pure play. We did not try to be a cable television company or a telephone company; we did not try to offer home security or water meter reading, or telephone books, or anything other than what we do. So many businesses have come and gone trying to do what anyone can instantly do today with one of our IP addresses. At SpeedConnect, we just stuck to what we do best, knowing that once one of our customers had a connection though us, they could pretty much take it from there and accomplish what they want, when they want.
SpeedConnect is a pure play, local, all-American, accessible, personal company with just plain good people.