Editor's note: The following letter was sent last week to Loranne Ausley in response to her guest column “Lack of affordable internet taking a toll” that appeared in the Aug. 27 Times.
I read your opinions in The Apalachicola Times on the need for government to expand internet access to sparsely populated communities via new, costly broadband (cable?) access. I found your general tone and your dragging of the China Virus into the discussion as very triggering. The virus isn’t over but it is diminishing, people are going back to work and kids are back in school, so internet access for (per VP Biden) "Poor kids (that) are just as bright, just as talented, as white kids," is just as important as it was last year.
First, without much research, I suspect there are Very few people in Franklin County without access to cable. Statistics show that people of limited means (i.e. poor people) really like cable TV.
Secondly, without my being mean, you are old enough to remember telephones that were connected to just about everyone’s house via a physical, twisted pair copper wiring. Those wires are still connected to most houses in Franklin County. Why is that important to this discussion? Because in Franklin County, a company called Consolidated Communications, (out of Texas) provides high-speed internet access via those old telephone lines. Consolidated’s services may not currently be available to other sparsely populated areas of Florida but I suspect Consolidated, or a Florida competitor with access to the old telephone system wiring, might be incented to expand their business by Florida’s business-friendly state government. The Office of Broadband can champion a solid, low-cost solution for high speed internet that is already mostly installed, so no need to panic.
Ms. Ausley, how many people in Franklin County don’t have either cable or twisted pair cabling already installed in their dwelling?
Third, what if neither physical cable scheme is already installed. Well, the whole broadband wiring thing is about to join buggy whips and video disks on the trash heap of history. I recently purchased a 5G capable cellphone. My cellphone provider has recently added high data (100 GB), tethering friendly plans for 5G ready phones. Franklin County isn’t on the high priority list for implementing 5G, but I’m starting to move my family usage (60 to 70 GB/month) away from my wired internet to my cellphone. At the age of 70, no one is going to accuse me of being an early adopter of phone technology. So, if I’m doing it, it’s approaching mainstream.
I also see news reports about schools having problems keeping kids off their cellphones during class, so in my mind, it’s a very small leap for kids to use their phones to monitor remote classes or to do research on the internet. Perhaps the state can incent the kids to use their phones rather than investing in an old school solution, i.e. adding a PC and broadband to every household.
From an infrastructure perspective, if the State of Florida is going to provide incentives, they should consider encouraging the construction of more cell towers and supporting the roll-out of 5G technology instead of investing in a dinosaur cabling boondoggle.
This article originally appeared on The Apalachicola Times: LETTERS: More cell towers and 5G needed, not cable