Sunday, December 27, 2015

Connect America Phase II Final Eligible Areas Map

I encourage you all to click on this link and zoom into your location to find out if you are within the eligible area.  Per the letter in the previous post from Senator Braun's office, we now know that $1.3 million of the CA Phase II funds are for use in Lewis County.  If you live within the green area you are eligible but it remains to be seen which areas of eligibility CenturyLink will focus on.  The funds are to be spent on 3,838 homes and businesses over a six year period.


Letter from Senator John Braun's office

Ms. Conrow,

Senator Braun asked me to look into the issues surrounding the Winlock area as it relates to internet and Centurytel. Here is some information that I was able to find – I know that this doesn’t answer all the questions. Unfortunately, the Utilities and Trade Commission does not regulate internet, so while a staff member there was able to find the information below for you, there is nothing they can do that would affect the internet decisions made by Centurytel. I am still trying to find answers to your 4th & 5th question.


Best regards,

Ruth Peterson
20th District Legislative Assistant
On behalf of Senator John Braun
Office: (360) 786.7638
MCC Logo Color 2014




Ruth,
I wasn’t able to track down answers to all the questions but I did find some information that I hope is helpful.

The $24.4M that CenturyLink received is expected to expand broadband to 58,961 homes and business throughout Washington.   Of that, $1.3M is marked for Lewis County for 3,838 homes and businesses over six years (Q2).

Q1: Areas that qualify for investment must have an average monthly cost-per-location that is between high (above the $52.50) and “extremely high” (below a $198.60), and are not otherwise served by a competitor.  The FCC has an interactive map that shows which areas are eligible and which are not and why. I included a screen print of Winlock and you can see that parts of the city are eligible and parts are considered ineligible because the average cost is below the “high” threshold or are already considered served. (This map will also let you drill down on your neighborhood to see if it will be covered – give me a call if want help navigating it.)
 

Here is a link to the most recent FCC media release on this:  https://apps.fcc.gov/edocs_public/attachmatch/DOC-335269A1.pdf

Q3: If their address does not fall within the green area on the map there is nothing that can be done to change that. If they are in the green area CenturyLink may or may not invest in that area. From what I understand they have not finalized their list of specific addresses that will be impacted but I think that the list is underway. 

Letter to Senator John Braun's office

Tuesday, November 17, 2015

Step 1

Our letter to CenturyLink seems to have disappeared into a black hole.  We will continue our efforts to find a contact there who can answer our questions.  In the meantime we are researching other solutions to our Internet problem.  There are many other small communities in the United States with the same issue.  

The first step is to find out how many households are affected.  We need to know how many residents in the 98596 zip code cannot get Internet at all and how many have Internet at speeds too slow to be effective.  This will help us determine which direction to focus our efforts.  We have the street info for those of you who added your names to the CenturyLink letter.  Please encourage your friends and neighbors in 98596 to share the following info with us via email winlockneedsinternet@gmail.com or by calling Michelle at 785-3122.
  1. Do you have Internet service?
  2. If so, who is your provider (CenturyLink, Hughesnet, etc.)?
  3. Are you satisfied with your download and upload speeds? (You can check your Internet speed at testmy.net)
  4. What is your street address? (if you don’t want to give your house number let us know the street name so we can get a clear picture of where the trouble spots are)
Once we have mapped out our needs we can figure out which solutions other towns have found might be a good fit here in Winlock.

Tuesday, October 27, 2015

First CenturyLink Letter Has Been Sent

The following letter has been sent via email and USPS to CenturyLink's VP of Operations in WA State.  I will let you know if and when we receive a reply.


Hello Sue,

Our rural community of Winlock, WA 98596 (more specifically the unincorporated area around Winlock) is in need of Internet infrastructure help.  Satellite excepted, CenturyLink is the only game in town.  We are on the I-5 corridor roughly 100 miles south of Seattle.  While we don’t appear to be off in the boondocks, new residents within the service area have been told the system is overtaxed and cannot accommodate any new accounts.  Many existing customers are experiencing more frequent and more enduring slowdowns.  Still more households are simply outside the service area. 

As a rural community we are watching the world move on without us.  We have telecommuters experiencing service interruptions.  We have college students enrolled in online courses unable to watch lectures and grade school students unable to log on for tutoring.  We have business owners trying to stay reliably connected to their customers.  Financial institutions charge extra to send paper statements through the mail. Airlines charge extra to speak to a representative rather than handle transactions online.  Do you know that Microsoft only sells hard copies of Office to third world countries?  Here in the U.S. it’s download only – tricky without a steady connection.

Because we lack the population density to make Winlock profitable we don’t seem to have been on CenturyLink’s to-do list.  Looking at the FCC’s Connect America Fund Phase II – Accepted Areas Map we see much of the area surrounding Winlock is within the Accepted Funding area.  We also see on the FCC website that CenturyLink has received $24,412,884 in CAFP-II funds to expand rural broadband in Washington State.  Does this mean our community can look forward to a strong Internet connection for all residents soon?   If not, why not?  What can we do to make sure we don’t fall any farther behind the urban areas? We hear CenturyLink service in Seattle is great. We want to be able to say that too.

Please note that responses to this letter will be shared with interested members of the Winlock community via our Winlock Needs Internet Facebook group and on winlockneedsinternet.com

Kind Regards from Winlock residents,   
Matthew and Michelle Conrow - South Military Rd
Dianne Stillman - South Military Rd
Jamie Shere – Hawkins Rd
Zack Shrigley – Hawkins Rd
Mark Velasco – Sargent Rd
Jennifer and Jason Demeo – Leak Dr
Gerald Miller – King Rd
Debra Withrow – Northeast First St
Rowena Conley – Meier Rd
Leonard and Lindsay Giberson – Ferrier Rd
Melinda Rockwell – Saint Helens Wy
Paulette and Ted Rautio
Christi and Joshua Bidwell – North Military Rd
Candace Folden – North Military Rd
Eric and Valerie Marquina – Minkler Rd
Andrew and Natalie Zucati – Highway 603
Mike and Elena Payne – King Rd
Sharyl O’Danne – Dorning Rd
Cliff Fisher – Dorning Rd
Ron & Liz Schroeder - Marsyla Heights
Ron & Linda Wilson - Marsyla Heights
Ron & Joanne Rees – Marsyla Heights
Gerald & Clare Glick – Marsyla Heights

Saturday, October 24, 2015

FCC Connect America Phase II Links

Accepted Areas Map
- You will need to zoom way in to see the boundary lines in the Winlock area

Funding Breakdown
-This is broken down first by ISP provider and then by State.  Scroll down to CenturyLink and then to Washington State


Neighborhood Flyer

Here is a flyer I came up with to give to my neighbors.  If you would like to talk to your neighbors about this, feel free to copy it, print it and add your own name and phone number in the blank space.  

Tuesday, October 20, 2015

Hearsay from a CenturyLink Technician

About 3 weeks ago I noticed a CenturyLink van parked in front of the clear cut on South Military road near my house. A technician was walking through the area.  I stopped and asked him if he was here to expand internet service.  Sadly the answer was no.  He was investigating old telephone conduits running underground.  I asked if he knew of any plans to improve/create more internet around here.  He said there are no plans lined up.  He is aware of the Connect America Phase II funding. In fact he brought it up before I did.  His thoughts are that nothing will be done around here for a number of years yet.  Not what I was hoping to hear.  It does sound as though the funds might not yet be earmarked for specific locations.  Hopefully this gives us an opportunity to make some noise so CenturyLink knows we need help.

Monday, October 19, 2015

Draft Letter to CenturyLink's WA VP of Operations

If any of you in the Winlock community are interested in signing your name to this letter along with me, send me an email at winlockneedsinternet@gmail.com.  It would be helpful if you include your address or at least the street you live on. - Michelle


Our rural community of Winlock, WA 98596 (more specifically the unincorporated area around Winlock) is in need of Internet infrastructure help.  Satellite excepted, CenturyLink is the only game in town.  We are on the I-5 corridor roughly 100 miles south of Seattle.  While we don’t appear to be off in the boondocks, new residents within the service area have been told the system is overtaxed and cannot accommodate any new accounts.  Many existing customers are experiencing more frequent and more enduring slowdowns.  Still more households are simply outside the service area.

As a rural community we are watching the world move on without us.  We have telecommuters experiencing service interruptions.  We have college students enrolled in online courses unable to watch lectures and grade school students unable to log on for tutoring.  We have business owners trying to stay reliably connected to their customers.  Financial institutions charge extra to send paper statements through the mail. Airlines charge extra to speak to a representative rather than handle transactions online.  Do you know that Microsoft only sells hard copies of Office to third world countries?  Here in the U.S. it’s download only – tricky without a steady connection.
Because we lack the population density to make Winlock profitable we don’t seem to have been on CenturyLink’s to-do list.  Looking at the FCC’s Connect America Fund Phase II – Accepted Areas Map we see much of the area surrounding Winlock is within the Accepted Funding area.  We also see on the FCCwebsite that CenturyLink has received $24,412,884 in CAFP-II funds to expand rural broadband in Washington State.  Does this mean our community can look forward to a strong Internet connection for all residents soon?   If not, why not?  What can we do to make sure we don’t fall any farther behind the urban areas? We hear CenturyLink service in Seattle is great. We want to be able to say that too.