Letter: Vote ‘yes’ on question 1A

I am writing to ask you to vote “yes” on ballot question 1A, which if approved will allow Pitkin County, with no increase in taxes, to continue to look into options for providing high-speed Internet access to the rural areas of the county. About five years ago, at the urging of private Internet service providers, “our” state Legislature adopted Senate Bill 05-152, which restricts local governments from investing in broadband or high-speed Internet services. Since the bill was adopted, numerous jurisdictions in the state have added issues to their ballots asking to be exempted from this private-sector-sponsored measure. I believe that all but one of these ballot measures around the state have passed.

I can’t speak for everyone living in a rural area in Pitkin County, but I can tell you about my own experience. We live about a mile beyond the Music School campus. The campus is pretty much the end of the line for high-speed service by either CenturyLink or Comcast in the Castle Creek Valley. After a lot of searching for alternatives a few years ago, I signed up for the Exede satellite service, offered by ViaSat. It is a similar service to that offered by Hughes. When it’s working the way it’s supposed to, it is a completely acceptable service for our needs. However, it is sometimes knocked about by weather. More importantly, though, we have the largest package that we can buy from ViaSat, which is 25 GB of data per month. With kids in the house, we typically use up that amount of data halfway through the month. After that, we have to go to the Exede Web page (if we can even access it at that point) and buy more data at $10 per GB. We have spent as much as $500 per month maintaining our access to the Internet. A neighbor checked into signing up for Exede service recently and was told that ViaSat is not accepting new customers in our area at the present time.

There has to be a better way! You probably have great Internet service where you live, but a lot of your neighbors do not. Please help out your neighbors by voting “yes” on question 1A.

Joe Wells