Below is proposed letter to 2 WA LD-14 representatives who voted against Engrossed Substitute Bill 1336 allowing PUDs to broadband internet services. This letter explains why they should support public broadband services to Skamania County. Please provide comments here and/or to Mary. Thanks
P.O. Box 103
Stevenson, WA 98648
Cell: (360) 726-7052
13 October 2021
Rep. Chris Corry
410 John L. O'Brien Building P.O. Box 40600 Olympia, WA 98504-0600
Direct Line: (509) 907-6087
Toll Free: (800) 562-6000 Direct Line: (360) 786-7810
Rep. Gina Mosbrucker
431 John L. O'Brien Building P.O. Box 40600 Olympia, WA 98504-0600
Direct Line: (360) 761-1194
Toll Free: (800) 562-6000 Direct Line: (360) 786-7856
Re: Broadband Critical to Rural Economic, Educational, and Social Infrastructure
Dear Representatives Corry and Mosbrucker,
I want to urge you both to propone for affordable, reliable, and high speed broadband in Skamania County and other rural areas in District 14 and Washington State. As the Covid pandemic has shown, we all need broadband to function in the 21st century society that we live in. Affordable, consistent, and reliable broadband is essential to educating our children when they cannot attend brick and mortar schools. It is essential for tele-health and basic business transactions. It is essential to full participation in our modern life.
I noted that you both voted against Engrossed Substitute Bill 1336 which would have created and expanded unrestricted authority for public entities to provide telecommunications services to end users. Skamania county needs broadband throughout our county and our Public Utility District #1(PUD #1) should be a provider. Apparently, we have broadband in our community but connecting it to peoples’ homes is something that is not happening. Although we have other internet providers in the county, see http://gorgebroadband.org/connect/skamania-county.php, they are not willing to invest in extending broadband to residences. Apparently, a node that would serve 4 to 6 houses costs $20,000 and private providers are not stepping up to ensure that all our residents are served.
If private providers do not want to invest in our rural broadband infrastructure, then it is time that our government steps in to ensure that equity and equality of access to broadband becomes the law of the land. We should all have the same access to a consistent, affordable, and equitable broadband.
There are many benefits to broadband in our rural areas:
Economic Development. Broadband enables local communities, regions and nations to develop, attract, retain and expand job-creating businesses and institutions. It also improves the productivity and profitability of large, small and home-based businesses and allows them to compete in local, national and global markets.
Government Services. Broadband helps government agencies improve quality, lower costs and increase transparency by improving internal operations and making it easier for residents to interact with them online.
Education. Broadband networks enhance educational experiences by providing students and teachers with access to an array of resources, including text-based materials, photos, videos, music, animations, interactive lessons and oral history collections. Broadband also opens classroom walls, allowing students to participate in distance learning opportunities at any time from any location they can access the internet, such as libraries, school and home.
Health Care. Broadband makes remote access to clinical services possible for patients and provides significantly improved, cost-effective access to quality health care. It also allows physicians to monitor their patients through innovative home health devices, avoiding expensive house calls and giving patients real-time feedback.
Public Safety. Broadband, particularly wireless broadband, is becoming increasingly indispensable to the interoperability of police, fire, health and other government entities that protect the public in both day-to-day and crisis situations. This involves rapid disaster response systems, effective early warning and public alert systems, disaster preparation programs, remote security monitoring and backup systems for public safety communications networks.
Environmental Sustainability. Broadband enables buildings to communicate with utilities and utilities to communicate with each other and the energy market, providing real-time information to both buildings and homes. These include smart buildings and smart grids, which hold great promise for dramatic reductions and greater efficiencies in energy consumption.
Telework. Broadband allows teleworkers opportunities to more readily live and work in locations of their own choosing, without having to be within commuting distance of a corporate center or another base location. Studies show that commuters drive 53% to 77% less on days they telecommute than on days when they drive into work. As well, a three-day-a-week telecommuter can save an average of $5,878 per year in commuting costs and avoid putting 9,060 pounds of pollutants into the environment.
Also, “Research suggests that the social returns to investment in broadband are significant. Increasing access and usage of broadband infrastructure in rural areas (and the amenities, digital skills, online education, and job search opportunities that come with it) lead to higher property values, increased job and population growth, higher rates of new business formation, and lower unemployment rates, according to researchers at the Federal Reserve Bank of Richmond. Broadband expansion can also improve health and life outcomes, offering access to remote healthcare providers, online social networks, and educational opportunities. A cost-benefit analysis of rural broadband installation in Indiana observed three to four-fold returns on investment, not including state and local governments’ cost savings on medical expenditures and additional tax revenues from increased incomes.”
In conclusion, broadband is the wave of our future and it is time to invest fully in rural broadband infrastructure. President Biden’s infrastructure bill has allocated $65 billion, and more will be needed, toward universal broadband infrastructure and I urge you to support getting some of those dollars for District 14 residents’ broadband. The Internet is no longer a luxury. It is a necessity for 21st century infrastructure.
I look forward to hearing from you as to how you are going to ensure that District 14 residents have the same equitable access to broadband as the urban areas. It is critical to our social, economic, and educational well-being.