LETTER TO THE EDITOR: Door County Does Not Need Better Internet Availability

Door County does not need better internet availability! That was the decision of the county’s Resource Planning Committee (RPC) last week.

If you disagree, now is the time for you to contact your elected County Board supervisor to express emphatically that we need more and better availability of internet access.

Last week, 19 people testified in opposition to the RPC’s proposed Chapter 14 tower ordinance. Their major common recommendation was to remove fixed wireless broadband towers from the ordinance. The county attorney recommended against removal, and the RPC rejected the requests of the community.

The Gibraltar, Southern Door and Sevastopol superintendents; the executive director of the Door County Economic Development Corporation; the CIO of Door County Medical Center; and 14 others were in opposition. No one offered support for the ordinance. Ignoring the opposition, the RPC voted 4 to 1 to pass the ordinance with no changes and submit it to the full County Board with a recommendation for adoption.

Five years ago, the County Board passed Chapter 14, making the costs of permitting and constructing fixed wireless broadband transmission towers increase dramatically. The result? Where Chapter 14 was in force in rural Door County, wireless internet service expansion stopped – completely. If you don’t have cable (most people don’t) and can’t receive or afford the more expensive cell or satellite service, tough luck. Now it’s even worse as Frontier has cratered into bankruptcy.

That 2015 ordinance regulates small-profile broadband towers with the same heavy-duty regulations as the bulky, vision-blocking cellular-phone towers. Adding thousands of dollars in regulatory costs to a small tower that serves 30 or 40 rural homes is much more discouraging to a small wireless internet company than the same costs are to AT&T when building a $250,000 tower.

Now the RPC also wants to regulate private reception towers with the same costly rules as AT&T cell-phone towers.

Now it is time to tell your County Board supervisor to encourage – not discourage – internet expansion in rural Door County.

David Studebaker

Ellison Bay, Wisconsin