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I cannot recommend any additional taxation for others to bring broadband to myself

By Marian Norton
Posted Sunday, February 2, 2014

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Pittsboro, NC - My nomination for "quote of the day" is "anyone can check online for wireless broadband availability."

On the Chatham Chatlist Taylor Kish seemed to hint that Chatham County residents, particularly Siler City apartment residents would be paying higher taxes so some who want faster, cheaper internet would get their wish. Taylor, I don't know where you are getting your information. As far as I know, and I may be wrong, Chatham County (as a governmental body) cannot provide broadband service for its residents.

Current state laws make that practically impossible. Am I missing some information? I am a resident without broadband service, but I cannot recommend any additional taxation to others to bring broadband to myself. I pay high enough taxes on a home with no broadband access. No one in this county needs to pay higher taxes. Even if we paid higher taxes the county could not provide the service. You should be writing to the commissioners and the county manager demanding that no tax money be spent to make available broadband, phones, water, sewer, gas, or electricity. Let you elected representatives know how you feel on this issue. You should not pay for what others want in their home!

What I see as needing to happen, is that monies that are currently set aside for deploying broadband be spent in a judicious manner. I do believe that everyone should have access (and that includes affordability) to broadband service in their home. No one should lack access to educational and employment opportunities because of lack of broadband. Currently anyone who pays a phone bill (land line or mobile) pays into the Universal Service Fund which itself funds the Connect America Fund. This is not a tax. The USF is a fund telecoms are required to pay into. They are allowed to pass this fee on to their customers, and they do so. Check your phone bills and see how much you pay each month(then multiply it by the number of households in Chatham, then multiply by 12 to get as estimate of how much we send to Washington each year).

This fee goes to Washington to be administered for connecting rural America to broadband. Many millions (or billions, I have no numbers)of dollars of this money have been used to create maps that gives distorted data on the true condition of service in our state and county, because the telecoms themselves are supplying the data. Some of the money provides for better public connections and computer training that encourages adoption of internet use. What we need now is connected homes. It is not morally right, Taylor, for CenturyLink to take money from me to provide rural internet access and then refuse to use that funding for my benefit. CenturyLink even charges me almost the limit on the federal line access charge to provide my dial tone service, even while maintaining the same wires to provide DSL to "select" customers.

What we need is to find a provider who has access to CAF funding and will use it to deploy broadband to everyone in Chatham and has a vision for the future broadband needs of our county. CenturyLink does not take all the funding offered them and does not want to upgrade unserved areas. Read this link to find out about the money CL has accepted and the money they turn away.

It could be that wireless would be the solution. Wholesale costs of bandwidth is not that expensive, however, most wireless providers are determined to maximize their profits. They view the mobile customer as either a customer with no other option, or a customer who can afford the luxury of wi-fi in their pocket. What we see now with wireless is that, as you said, it is costly. and that some areas of our county still lack adequate wireless signals.

True, more Chatham residents are gaining access to the internet through mobile or satellite, or otherwise, but these connections do not suffice for employment or taking online courses. Just a few short years until all NC textbooks will be digital and our rural students are not prepared. Should every home have access to a wired connection? or are slates and charcoal, oil lamps and candles good enough for rural Chatham?

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I cannot recommend any additional taxation for others to bring broadband to myself

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