Letter to the Editor: Expanding Local Internet Service

Concern has been expressed that local governments are not exploring all the options for expanding local internet services. As a member of multiple town and county technology committees, I assure you that the currently available technologies for internet services are all being considered.

Each internet-delivery technology has its benefits and limitations:

• DSL over phone lines has very limited availability in Northern Door.

• Satellite latency impedes interactive use, and reception is subject to weather interference.

• Cellular service in Northern Door is spotty. Future 5G cellular service will be targeted only at more populated areas.

• Cellular and satellite data caps often make handling large data files or volume streaming very expensive.

• Cable is available only in denser populated areas because rural construction costs are high and rural subscribers are few. Spectrum has not offered to expand into rural Door County.

• Fixed wireless (Door County Broadband [DCB]) has competitive pricing and no data caps. It requires towers, but much smaller-sized towers than cellular towers. DCB is actively working to expand service in Door County.

Based on extensive analysis of the options available, several Door County towns are working with DCB to apply for 2020 Wisconsin PSC broadband-expansion grants. The goal is to bring our communities into the 21st century and to minimize today’s “digital divide,” in which some have, and some don’t.

Why do this? Internet access has become a required utility. Without it, many important services are expensive or even unavailable. That includes access to education, telemedicine, information lookups, government services, personal communications, online shopping, entertainment, news, working from home, and more. Our schools already assign homework requiring internet access and are planning to have snow-day classes over the internet. But about 20 percent of students do not have adequate internet access (and some have none).

Call to action! Enthusiastically encourage your local governments to support new broadband infrastructure for our whole county. Door County is a wonderful place, but without upgrading our internet services, we will become a place only for visiting – not a great place for people to come and stay to play or work.

David Studebaker

Ellison Bay, Wisconsin