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Regarding broadband for the county, I think we’re in agreement that all should have access. So, when I see personal testimony about the hardships engendered from lack of access — I feel more and more that these folks are pushing at an open door, arguing against some Luddist straw man.
Their argument seems to be, if you don’t agree with fiber optic cables being installed across the county you’re against access to the internet. Of course, this is nonsense.
We should think long and hard, with healthy skepticism, before committing the county and its taxpayers to millions of dollars of fiber optic cabling.
First of all, as many have testified at prior public comment, Starlink is universally available now. The current pricing is at $40 per month. So the question begs itself — why disrupt the county with massive installations which will continue for months, including the felling of hundreds, possibly thousands of trees; and why use a penny of taxpayers dollars, when excellent broadband service is available right now — at no cost to the county? A service which is improving on a regular basis, as additional satellites are launched, more users come online and consumer costs continue to decline.
But closer to home, Piedmont Broadband is a local, grass-roots business, providing employment to our friends and neighbors. There’s lots of talk about keeping young people in the county. Why would the Board of Supervisors do anything to put good paying local jobs at risk?
I know first hand of the excellent service provided by Piedmont Broadband. They currently serve many in the county, adding new customers all the time. Why would the citizens of this county want to do anything which undermines and undercuts a successful local business that is providing first rate services, in favor of a multinational corporation with no ties to the county or any of its residents? Moreover, Piedmont Broadband, unlike the outside company, isn’t asking for any subsidies from Rappahannock County taxpayers!
The Board of Supervisors, with the best of intentions, has put the county on a runaway train. Chasing after so-called “free” money is leading the county into a maze from which there will be no exit. The upside is not worth the cost, the disruption or the unknown consequences.
Let’s focus our attention, our energy and our resources on implementing and improving what’s already in place. We do not need a big footing multinational corporation taking advantage of our county and it’s taxpayers in pursuit of their own bottom line.
Even after a massive installation effort, many rural properties in the county will still remain far from the installed fiber optic lines. Has anyone thought this through? How will these property owners access the new fiber optic lines without paying many thousands of dollars for additional designated lines to their properties? And for everyone else, what will the initial hook up charge be? Same as Starlink? More? Or the same as Piedmont Broadband? Or more? Does anyone know? Are enforceable price guarantees a part of any deal?
Bottom line. We don’t have to do this. County residents have two first rate options available right now. One made available by a technological giant of our time; the other by a hard working, very competent and customer friendly local business.
The easiest and least risky solution to universal broadband is to help folks hook up to the existing services. Taxpayer money would be better utilized to assist demonstrably needy citizens who are challenged with any initial hook up costs to the existing options: Starlink or Piedmont Broadband.
Let’s all take a deep breath and rethink this. We should not be on any third party’s timeline or schedule. We mustn’t let the tail wag the dog. We can be the masters of our own destiny.
The writer lives in Flint Hill
Editor’s Note: If the Board of Supervisors agrees to enter into a contract with All Points, residents can expect to pay a standard installation fee of $199 for any length of service drop for the first 12 months after service is available in the county.