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Blake Dowling: Internet barriers and aircraft carriers

Should the government provide internet?

Quiz time!

Can you guess how many aircraft carriers the U.S. Navy has? The answer: 11.

Some have been in service since the 70s. One just launched in 2017 — The USS Gerald R Ford — and it is a beast of a ship.

Another carrier doesn’t even live in the U.S.; that’s the USS Ronald Reagan, it’s based in Japan.

There used to be one in Florida, the USS John F Kennedy, but it was decommissioned in 2007.

Speaking of which, they are having a tough time with that decommission effort, as the Kennedy was nuclear powered. Where does one put old nuclear-powered, very large boat engines?

That is a serious thing to contend with (and I’m glad that chore is not on my to-do list for today).

Returning to carriers; other countries around the world have one (maybe two) max.

Italy has two, while most major powers have one. Even China and Russia have just a single carrier each.

This makes the U.S. the superior navy on the Earth’s oceans, able to bring a world of hurt — or aid — to your doorstep quickly (if there’s an ocean nearby).

I wish there were more stories out there about our brave sailors and the role they play in disaster relief around the world.

For example, here’s one.

The government builds and maintains these ships — that’s their job, yes? What else IS the government’s job? Provide roads? Police? I think we can agree on this.

How about space exploration? Health care? Oops. There goes consensus.

How about internet, then? Should the government provide internet?

Throughout Florida, it is increasingly something city governments are considering and implementing (in some cases).

As for me, I have worked with clients in the Ocala area, having to deal with outages from the city, and dialing the 800 number for assistance. That makes for a long call.

Why would you deploy high-speed internet when the private sector already has the infrastructure (not cheap) in place to provide residential and commercial use for that market?

Multiple providers offer options in North Florida.

If you propose it, who would build it? Pay for it? Support it? We are talking millions of dollars.

Also, what would the city charge? In some cases, would it be free?

That makes it hard for the private sector to compete.

We all know (I hope) free things are not really free. Eventually, someone gets stuck with the tab.

Think of it like this: An all-day bar tab during football season at Smith’s Ole Bar in Atlanta in my first few years out of college with a dozen friends. They all left at various times, with the waiter asking: “Who had the 96 Budweisers? That will be $576.00” when it’s only you and your significant other at the table.

Never leave a tab. Never. That’s just bad manners.

But I digress; this isn’t a column about free stuff versus not-free stuff.

This would be some of that Atlanta crowd at the Ritz, game day, 20 years later and much better with their tabs.

 It’s just some random thoughts on the government getting into a space that is already covered.

The government doesn’t sell cars or jeans. How about cell phones? Pizza? TV packages?

I can see it now … next on “GovFlix —Talkin’ Weed with Nikki Fried.” Or how about “Beto and the Beat?

I’m glad Beto O’Rourke gave up music. Ouch. Then again, you should have heard my high school band. (Also, ouch.)

You should have seen my high school talent show from 1990, featuring me and now-Mayor John Dailey (he juggles really well).

Yours truly.

Mayor Dailey, juggling master.

Does your county in Florida have high-speed access?

Here in Leon County, over 95 percent of citizens have access to high-speed internet. Check out your county here: Polk County also comes in at over 96 percent.

According to, Florida is the No. 9 most connected state in the U.S., with 98 percent of Floridians having access to 10 MBPS internet service from 198 broadband providers. There is a lot to consider when diving into this space. In Tallahassee, it is undoubtedly a hot topic.

In Ocala, government internet it is a reality. In Tampa, it is the private sector (as in most markets).

Dunnellon built their own fiber for just under 10 million and sold it to a fiber company not long after for only $1 million (I did the math, not a good deal). It was a pretty epic failure getting into the internet business.

If not internet service, what do we need in Florida from our government?

Easy … spaceships!

Why did NASA Get out of the spaceship game? We need to get back out there. We need space bases and the jobs and economic growth that they will bring.

We also really need this TV show:

Based on the above points you would think spaceships would fit into something the government would tackle right? Elon Musk and his SpaceX crew seem sharp, but are they up to the task?

So, if anyone thinks I am in the internet business, I am not. Our company provides information technology support and a full range of services and products — but not internet service.

(Just making clear on that point.)

This is just a high-level view on public versus private sector roles in our nation and state.

Plus, aircraft carriers are really fascinating too. And who doesn’t love old pics from high school?

Taking a moment of seriousness, I would like to offer sincere thanks to all those who served in our Navy as well as all other branches of the military.

See you out there.


Blake Dowling is CEO of Aegis Business Technologies. He can be reached at

Written By

Blake Dowling is CEO of Aegis Business Technologies. His technology columns are published by several organizations. Contact him at or at

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