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A year ago the term broadband was rarely heard outside of technology circles. But today it demands our constant attention. While talk of broadband abounds, what it means from both a connectivity and productivity standpoint is often vague. Broadband is all about moving audio, video and data through the Internet at lightning fast speed to ensure fast delivery and easy, universal access by viewers. It’s the world of DSL, cable modems, T1s and high-speed wireless networks where viewers can communicate and conduct their business with the access, speed and convenience within a rich media environment that is impossible with 28k and 56k dial-up modems. One of the promises of broadband is superior image quality, particularly with video and audio content. If, for example, you go online with a broadband connection to participate in a videoconference, you can expect to see a smooth and clear presentation with properly timed audio and large size images of the participants. With a traditional dial-up connection, however, that same videoconference would appear jerky and fuzzy, the audio would be out of sync with the speakers and it would probably appear in a small window on screen. The nonbroadband quality will likely be so bad and distracting that it interferes with the meeting itself. Broadband, on the other hand, enables participants to concentrate on the meeting rather than inadequate technology because it eliminates the distraction of poor audio and video quality. From a practical connectivity standpoint for the end user, having broadband means having a high speed/high volume connection to the Internet through one of several different pipes: large telecommunication circuits, such as T1 or T3, DSL via phone lines, cable modem via cable TV lines and newer wireless services. While each handles data at different transmission rates, they each currently provide enough speed to pass a broadband data rate threshold. But that threshold is a moving target. As technology advances, the speed at which data moves will increase and what is considered broadband today will no doubt be “slowband” in the months and years ahead. BROADBAND AND THE LAW FIRM As legal professionals become wired into broadband services, an increasingly larger part of the legal process will be conducted online and in real-time. With broadband connectivity, lawyers can dramatically enhance and improve their internal and external communications, conduct legal research more efficiently, access and view rich media content with superior image and audio quality, and enjoy the convenience of an always “on” connection to the Internet. What this means in practical, everyday terms is that broadband service gives lawyers the ability to hold videoconferences for virtual face-to-face meetings at their own desks, diagram on electronic whiteboards, collaborate on documents simultaneously with others, view streaming video clips, instantly view online slide presentations and e-mail large documents instead of faxing. Much more can be accomplished as well: � Legal research can be done right from the lawyer’s desktop instead of the library. � Case information, including schedules, correspondence and motions, can be immediately accessed. � Electronic documents can be filed remotely and court rulings can be accessed. � Online forms can be increasingly used for best practice management functions. All this is relevant not only to a lawyer’s productivity, but to the business of staying competitive. As more and more client companies implement broadband services for their own organizations, they are increasingly demanding broadband communications from outside counsel. Indeed, a law firm’s ability to serve its clients technologically is becoming an engagement consideration, in addition to legal qualifications and reputation. PERSPECTIVE Traditionally, lawyers have been slow to adapt to the rapid evolution of computing technology. In part, that’s because lawyers largely deal with text documents and their need for sophisticated technological tools has been generally less than that of other professions and industries. However, attorneys are increasingly recognizing the immense productivity benefits that technology affords, with broadband connectivity playing a key role in their recognition and acceptance. Certainly instant access to documents and graphics of all kinds are important, but its real appeal is the power of real-time communications with streaming audio and video that is integrated on the desktop with other legal matters, including case documents, trial graphics, depositions, schedules, court filings and forms to name a few. With the right connection and equipment, lawyers can more effectively communicate with clients, colleagues, support staff, the courts and others without having to catch the next airplane or attend a meeting across town. Equally important, it enables lawyers to access, view and manage information resources that would otherwise be out of reach or too slow and inconvenient to view on any practical basis. Many law firms have already made great strides with broadband connectivity, but it is a gradual, evolutionary process. Even those practices with broadband today will need to evolve their technology infrastructure to benefit from the future advances in high-speed Internet access and network communications. To summarize some of the practical benefits of broadband: � It provides the convenience of always being “on,” eliminating the time to dial-up through a standard modem. � It satisfies client demands for high-speed communications from their lawyers. � It provides the vital connection to establish content-rich extranets where data and resources are aggregated in one place for lawyers, clients and third parties to access on a permission basis. � It can help streamline a firm’s workflow in terms of lawyer/client relationships and the internal operations of the practice. BROADBAND DOWNSIDE In our highly connected world, to have broadband connectivity is a key competitive advantage. As with most technological issues, however, there are both pros and cons. The downsides today relate mainly to cost, the inherent capaci ty limitations of existing broadband networks and the temporary interruptions when new connectivity is implemented. Moving from dial-up to a high-speed broadband service increases a firm’s monthly connectivity costs, as does moving from one type of broadband service to another, e.g., from DSL to T1. More than anything, though, the critical issue is assessing requirements and then making a decision based on how much increased capacity a firm needs to meet the access and viewing needs of everyone. Is live streaming video and audio access crucial? Or is the “always on” benefit coupled with the need to instantly e-mail large files sufficient to get started with broadband? Another issue that larger firms must contend with is “the enterprise problem,” where there is more demand for capacity through the network than what is technically possible to deliver in real time. Think of the enterprise building as the neighborhood. Just as water flow decreases in a neighborhood when too many residents simultaneously demand water from the same old, undersized water main, the pipe into an enterprise can bog down when too many users make demands on it at the same time. This can happen when a number of people in a building simultaneously try to access a live webcast or prerecorded video presentation, and there is inadequate broadband infrastructure to support the demand. The network becomes congested and only a limited amount of streaming media can get through the pipe based on the company’s broadband capacity. Network congestion is a serious problem and solution providers are now working feverishly to ensure that the maximum number of users in one location can view rich media content simultaneously without delay. DRAWING CONCLUSIONS Broadband is about speed, access and convenience. Without a doubt, it will help lawyers be more productive, enhancing their communications with clients and colleagues, and provide access to online information and resources that are simply not possible with a standard dial-up connection. Beyond these valuable benefits, however, broadband connectivity plays a crucial role in a major new trend to centralize online legal resources, data files, research and communications through a single web portal that will dramatically enhance lawyer productivity. Without the broadband connection, use of such an online resource center would be impractical. With it, lawyers have access to a powerful new model for online information management and communications.

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