LETTER TO EDITOR: Internet Connectivity is the Key to Opportunity

www.tillamookcountypioneer.net

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
Nehalem


EDITOR’S NOTE: In addition to signing the letter, you may wish to attend the next meeting of the Tillamook LightWave Board on Tuesday, March 8th at 9:30 am.
The meeting will be held at Tillamook People’s Utility District’s Emergency Operations Center located at 1115 Pacific Avenue, Tillamook, OR 97141
Please call Marissa Durrer 503-842-2535 for details on how to attend virtually via Zoom.