It’s time for a New Deal in Tillamook County

In 1936, the Rural Electrification Act made it possible for thousands of Americans to have electricity. Today, we are facing the same lack of an essential service for Tillamook county. High-speed internet service called broadband is substandard or simply not available. More than 20 years ago, Tillamook LightWave began installing fibre optics cable as a service for the county but made connections to just selected businesses such as the Creamery, government buildings such as city halls and some schools and libraries. The fibre is mostly idle with no meaningful progress in getting true high-speed internet to everyone in the county.

Internet access is no longer a luxury. Basic education for the last 2 years depends on high-speed connections. Emergency services such as law enforcement, fire/rescue/medical help need fast connectivity to adequately cover the county. Additional cell tower connections cannot be added until fibre is available, especially in the mountains along Hwy 6. Doctors and clinics can now be reached by internet connections, but only if patients have access. But current providers are not making this service available, quoting connection prices from $10,000 to $50,000 for new unserved customers. And for existing connections, the speed and monthly price is not affordable.

Very large state and federal government grants are now available to make this essential service a reality for Tillamook county. And both connectivity and subsidized costs can be funded by these grants. Within the US, several towns and counties have formed Municipal Internet Service Providers (MISP). This changes the motivation from profit to service in delivering this essential connection.

It is time for Tillamook county to create adequate and affordable internet connections for everyone.

Bill Hassell
Rockaway Beach, Oregon