LETTER TO EDITOR: Bring Broadband to All – High Speed Opportunity

EDITOR’S NOTE: The joint meeting of the entities that comprise Tillamook County Lightwave will meet tomorrow, Friday February 18th at TBCC. The meeting will also be available virtually. See https://www.tillamookcountypioneer.net/tillamook-lightwave-joint-meeting-agenda-virtual-link-feb-18-2022/ for meeting agenda and meeting login details.
Tillamook County has been building an Internet fiber system throughout the county for over 20 years, but it has not been available to the general public. Because of the pandemic, millions of dollars in Federal grants have become available in an effort to get high-speed Internet to EVERY home in rural America. We need to let county leaders know that we want and need high-speed, AFFORDABLE Internet.
A letter detailing the need for internet access for all has been prepared by an action team of local citizens.
Please sign the letter for better, cheaper Internet throughout Tillamook County!
The letter, along with the list of signatures will be presented to the County Commissioners, and the boards for TPUD, the Port of Tillamook Bay, and the board of Tillamook Lightwave, which is the entity that has been managing the building of the fiber system.
Click here to sign the letter.
Here is a Letter to the Editor about the need for Internet Access for All:

I took having access to the Internet for granted. It was part of daily life and something that I had always known. I used it for school, entertainment, gathering information, etc.

Then, right after high school we moved to an area that had no internet access.

I started college that year and getting my school work done meant daily trips to the local library which was half an hour away. I would stay there for six to eight hours on some days.

Sometimes, I wouldn’t get my work completed before the library closed. In those cases, I would load everything I could on to my laptop and take it all home to finish. I can’t tell you how many times my aunt drove me the 20 minutes to the closest internet hot spot at 11:30 at night so that I could upload my assignment.

Eventually we learned that we could get very limited, very slow, and very expensive, internet access that came with a two year contract through a satellite connection. Initially, we said no to this option. Then the pandemic hit and the libraries closed.

We muddled through for a month or so by going back and forth to the hot spots, but this was psychologically draining and very time consuming. As the pandemic carried on my family, reluctantly, made the decision to invest in the satellite internet.

It was slow, slow, slow, video conferencing had a 3 second delay, and there was a data limit. But, it was heaven for a while. No more 11:30 hot spot trips and no more feeling devastated if I forget to download something.

The data limit is what really got us. We started with the amount recommended by the provider for our size household at $60 a month. It was gone in a week, so we went to the next level up at $100 a month; gone in two weeks. We went to the maximum level available at $150 and created a detailed usage chart to make sure we weren’t “wasting” our data.

Despite our careful usage, we went over the limit every month, and much like old cell phone usage, we incurred huge bills. They averaged about $300 a month.

Over the course of time it took for me to complete my transfer degree my family paid over $6,000 for internet service. I know how fortunate I am to have a family that was willing and able to invest in my education in this unexpected way. It probably cost me the car I might have received for graduation, but that’s okay. I’m here. I made it.

I made it because someone made a huge sacrifice to make sure that I had the opportunity. I imagine what would have happened if the circumstances were different. Simple; I would not have graduated with three Associates Degrees and I would not be writing to you from the wicked fast internet connection on the Oregon State University.

Internet access is OPPORTUNITY that should be granted to everyone. Please support the effort to bring high speed internet to every household in Tillamook County by signing the letter at tinyurl.com/weneedhighspeedinternet

Richard G. Bain, III