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That time I made a broadband law for an entire country

When I was in my early 20’s I somehow ended up as the “IT Guy” at this company headquarters. This was a long time ago but I still think about it sometimes. While most of the company was out in the west coast they had a headquarters on the east where all the executives worked. Though, their IT support was entirely based on the west coast. Which left a gap in the morning for available IT support. Well, that is not the kind of service these money makers are used to! They want support, and they want it NOW. So through a series of odd events that person ended up being me. That’s where the story really starts.

Everyone in the office was so. freaking. happy. to have a techy in the building. Remember, this was an office of senior executives. There were very few people under 40 there. I was definitely the only person in their 20’s, and I wasn’t just the go-to guy for technical issues within the company. I became everyone’s personal tech dude. I hate that shit and avoid it at all costs now. But at the time, I didn’t mind it. I was so excited to be able to work with many talented people and it was a great opportunity for me to learn more about them and how they got where they’re at. I really relished those opportunities. This allowed me to get to know a lot of people in the office as well. They really liked me and valued my opinions on technology and that felt really good.

One morning I’m sitting in my office and the phone rings. It’s someone from the legal team and they asked me a very strange question: “How fast is broadband?”.

Let me explain some things about this person. They’re from South America and spent half of their time bouncing back and forth from there. They were ridiculously qualified from what I can tell. The office had a wall covered in degrees. Seriously sharp person and didn’t like bullshit. They were known for being really tough. Thankfully, I didn’t have to deal with that side of them.

And they trusted my advice on technical questions. I was just some random IT kid that was lucky to be there. I know that doesn’t sound like it should matter but I REALLY did not feel qualified to be working there. It was so long ago but I still think about how lucky I was to get pulled in for that project. Lot’s of people in that office made me feel really respected and it was so cool, so I didn’t want to disappoint them.

Which brings us back to that early morning call I received: “How fast is broadband?”. I wasn’t really sure what the point of the question was at the time. I remember trying to think of a suitable answer. I’m getting hit early in the morning with these philosophical questions. Yeah, how fast IS broadband? Well back then it definitely wasn’t what it would be considered now. The answer I gave at the time was “I would consider broadband to be at least 1Mbps up and down”. They were satisfied with that and said “Thanks! You just made a law!”, before letting me know they had to run and hung up.

Wait, I just what? That moment was burned into my mind for weeks and weeks until they arrived back to the office in the USA. Where I finally inquired further about the one minute call that ended with me making a law. As it turns out they were helping to craft some tech laws for a country. I can’t remember which one it was, but it was definitely in South America. They were deciding what the legal definition of broadband would be for the entire country. A law that would impact companies, users, and all kinds of services between for years to come.

I, apparently, defined that law. You’re welcome, random South American country.

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