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.

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