Pass the Public Option for Broadband

Rural and urban areas have been waiting for 20 years to log on to fast, reliable internet service.



You just proved that in-depth reporting still lives at The Stranger. Thank you Rich.


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Committee: Environment, Energy & Technology
Date/Time: 3/11/2021 10:30 AM
Bill/Issue: ESHB 1336 Public telecomm. service

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Bloated taxes for the poor and bloated public utilities with lots of red tape to fill out if you want
a reduction in your bill payments, that's the city and state. The cheaper broadband we experienced was terrible. We had to go back to corporate or do without.

Bloated police budgets which have gone on for years and are not seriously addressed to keep
poor people, minorities and working people in their place. We have to fight like hell for any change.

We keep getting billings from the court house for our dear friend who died from a drug overdose. The fines go on and on for our underclasses.

This is real life that the authorities don't want to talk about. Its easier to blame the poor for making "poor choices" than to look at what this system really is.

Rich has done an excellent run down on the broadband situation which touches on one aspect of the neglect of our people by those in power.


The only thing keeping your wealthy WFH types from buying-up massive chunks of cheap rural land in your Eastern WAs, Idahos, and Montanas and such to build secluded mansions on is the fact that the internet access is shit. Better internet access is definitely needed, but I don't think your typical rural person will like the change it brings.
Watch, when Starlink gets big rural areas will be complaining about how all of a sudden nobody can afford a house and Main St is inundated with Patagonia jackets and Audis. Lol


Why don't rural people just build their own internet? Socialism is bad.



The "wealthy WFH types" aren't going to be abandoning metropolitan areas: with their wine and whiskey bars, high-end concept fusion restaurants, museums, galleries, sports stadia, music, dance and live theatre venues, cross-fit gyms and hot-yoga classes, not to mention the bulk of their fellow coder-drones - for the Life Idyll in Green Acres. Cheap land isn't exactly going to be seen as much of a trade-off for living in social and cultural seclusion among the "simple farmers, people of the land, the common clay of the New West", particularly when enough people get COVID vaccinations to allow some semblance of public activity to resume. I would imagine most have had it up to their necks with being isolated, so I seriously doubt many are going to willingly seek out even more of that, post-pandemic.


@4, News are already really expensive in any nice rural area within two hours of civilization. But yeah, you do have a point in that if we provided basic utilities to more places that those places would be better places to live. Who knew?


@6, The second home in the woods market is pretty hot right now. It might not stay in the insane level post pandemic, but it's expected to remain strong for the next decade.



@6 likes to bring up stereotypes to fit an argument (who doesn't), but another equally valid stereotype is a WFH couple who has "been there, done that" with all the metropolitan delights COMTE enumerated but would love to be in the country, raise kids, grow gardens. They had to be in the city because of the job but now can WFH far away from you dreadful snarky city slickers.


Here are all their emails if others don't want to dig through everything to find them.,,,,,,,,,,,,


@8 So I hear. We sold our place up north last fall. Not exactly the frenzy everyone was telling me about. I guess my timing was off.


Isolating this to rural/underserved areas is part of the problem. This is an issue everywhere.

Comcast, et al, are essentially monopolies that need to be heavily regulated, but since that's not going to happen, we need a public option state-wide, regardless of "private" competition.

Comcast, et al, can go fuck themselves.


Noting a PRO position on ESHB 1336 as outlined by @2 is super easy. If you have time for a quick email, Senators Carlyle and Wellman especially need to hear from their constituents (Queen Anne/Ballard/Magnolia/Phinney and Mercer Island, respectively). Great explainer, Rich!


This is one of those basic requirements like national health care that government should not neglect, especially when the interests of educating young people are at stake. Those fat and happy telecom companies should be given some sort of tax incentive to provide WiFi service to outlying areas, and there should be some sort of program to provide WiFi for poor folks. Think FDR and the Rural Electrification Program.


@15 -- BINGO.


@6 they bring all that with them. Move there, start a yoga studio or a coffee shop or a cupcake shop or boutique clothing store. Be right next to all the Instagram-able landscape, the hiking and mountain biking trails with their $10k mountain bikes.
Perfect example: Whitefish, Montana. Or anywhere in Montana, really. I try and go every year and it has exploded this past year or two to where a POS falling apart 900 sqft house is going to run you $300k.


Ah. So housing is expensive everywhere?

This sort of contradicts your idiotic "you can easily find housing on minimum wage" statement three days ago.



SECOND homes - so, not where people live most of the time, but what my grandparents generation used to call "vacation homes", namely, places where they can escape the city for a short period of time, but not where they plan to work, raise their kids, or send them to school and-such.


There have always been upper-class enclaves in traditionally remote areas: Lake Tahoe, CA, Sun Valley, ID, Vale, CO, Park City, UT, Martha's Vineyard, MA; just to name a few off the top of my head. Usually, these had some sort of recreational activity-related industries (mostly skiing, which also seems to be one of the bigger attractions of Whitefish), so the full-timers quickly saw where the money was coming from and started catering to it by providing the sort of amenities the seasonal crowd demanded. But, they were never traditionally places where young, healthy, educated, upwardly mobile, socially active people wanted to put down roots and live full-time, at least not in large numbers.

Will that change in a post-pandemic world? I seriously doubt it, at least not to a significant extent. People are desperate to get "back to normal", and human nature being what it is, that appears to mean "what was before", rather than necessarily embracing a newer, harsher, more socially isolated reality. When a sufficient percentage of the population has been vaccinated and things begin to open up again, all those activities I mentioned above are going to be the things people flock to - it'll be like the "Roaring '20's" of the previous century all over again - and most of those are things that just don't exist to any significant degree out in the hinterlands.


Good piece, Rich. I know some people over on the coast who are using Starlink in beta, and it's not quite ready for prime time. I question how that system will pay for itself by serving a lot of isolated and poor communities, but I suspect Musk's business plan is looking towards DoD contracts.


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@19 - totally agree. Not every place is Whitefish or Moab. I seriously doubt that any of the urban WFHers are going to move to Ephrata or Raymond. They have not even moved to Everett yet.

This is an idea that needs to happen And the fact that Comcast likes the Wellman bill is reason enough to kill it.