Jon Quinn: Input to broadband plan
April 8, 2016
As an IT service provider in this community for over 20 years, Northwest Data Services has an excellent understanding of the demand for broadband in our county, and unfortunately how rare a service it really can be here.
A broadband planning effort is underway, which I applaud, but I feel that the recent plan from Neo Fiber submitted to the county is focused too much on long-term goals of redundancy, and attracting other middle mile providers, but does not adequately address the more immediate needs of our underserved residents.
Please note that I support all of the goals laid out in the Neo Fiber plan. The work that they have put into identifying the fiber build opportunities, and the grant dollars that can make them a reality are very important for our community to
pursue. But concurrently, we also need to break down every wall of red tape and every mountain of government inefficiency to let common sense solutions extend broadband services to all corners of our county.
Broadband internet has been classified by the FCC as a public utility for a reason; it is a critical infrastructure requirement for modern communities. In Routt County today there are significant areas of the county that have no options for internet other than satellite services or very expensive T1 lines that are inadequate. These areas include hundreds of millions of dollars worth of residential real estate, agricultural properties and commercial enterprises.
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Routt County is home to businesses that employ hundreds of people, generate enormous tax revenue, and millions in payroll, who have to operate their businesses with 1/100th of the broadband service that they need. To add insult to injury, they pay 100 times the price per MB that a consumer in Steamboat does.
Routt County is home to many local workers who need broadband to do their jobs and who are raising kids who need broadband to do their homework. This is about economic development and about providing equal opportunity for all of our families to learn and succeed in a modern educational system and a global economy regardless of whether they choose to live in a population center or on a ranch in our beautiful county.
I would suggest that those taxpayers have every right to question the wisdom and evenhandedness of spending millions of their taxpayer dollars to build fiber‐fed connections to dozens of county facilities that already have more bandwidth available to them than they are using, before at least spending an equal amount to better service completely unserved rural areas.
I applaud the commitment to improving broadband in our community, and I appreciate that improving our fiber infrastructure is absolutely critical, but please make this a multi‐faceted effort and also make it a priority to reach the unserved areas of our community.
Chief operating officer
Northwest Data Services, Inc.
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