Saturday, November 5, 2016

Link to Survey Monkey WINternet Suvey

In addition to the 3 question survey mentioned in the previous post, please consider providing more detail by participating in our longer survey.  It is approximately 25 questions.

You will be directed to that survey by clicking here.

Thanks everyone!  The response so far has been great.

Thursday, November 3, 2016

How's Your Service? Let Us Know!

After you have answered these 3 questions, consider digging deeper.  We have a 25(ish depending on your answers) question survey to help us get a clearer picture.  Click Here to be directed to the Winlock Internet survey on Survey Monkey.

Tuesday, May 3, 2016

FCC Step One: Informal Complaints

We didn’t get the news we wanted from ToledoTel or CenturyLink at the meeting on April 8th.  We are moving to the next step.  It is time for each of us to start filing complaints individually to the FCC.  Mark Velasco has filed the first complaint and received a ticket number.  He has a contact at the FCC who will be following the complaint and watching out for additional complaints from Winlock.

Filing a complaint against CenturyLink with the FCC is pretty straightforward. Click here for a link to the online form.

CenturyLink will be served with your complaint directly from the FCC.  They are required by law to respond in writing and cc: the FCC with their response within 30 Days.  The more complaints they receive, the more pressure it will put on CenturyLink. Please note, this is not a complaint to CenturyLink customer service. This will be handled by a special department within that company with regards to their potential violation of Federal laws, specifically the Open Internet Order of 2015.
When you fill out the complaint form, Mark’s FCC contact suggested you choose "Open Internet" as the issue.  You must provide the company name you're filing a complaint against and your account number. If you have screen grabs from,, etc. or any other images that you'd like to include, you can upload them with your complaint.  Since this is a Violation of the Open Internet Order, our goal is to go after Transparency Issues.  Key terminology is important.  CenturyLink sold us service but didn't tell us about"overloaded lines" or "lines being over capacity" or "lack of bandwidth."  Concentrate on speeds slower than promised. Complaints need to stay focused on Lack of Transparency.  Here are some words/phrases that can be used.  Feel free to add or edit:

  • CenturyLink was not transparent about the ongoing major issues with their service
  • CenturyLink was not transparent about the fact that they have no intention of upgrading service or providing service at or near their advertised packages
  • They did not inform me speeds would not even be close to what I was paying for
  • If I would have known there were so many issues with their service, I wouldn't have signed up or would rather wait until the issues are resolved.
  • They never told me that having more devices on the connection would bog it down
  • They never told me they "oversold" the bandwidth
  • When I signed up, I was never informed that I wouldn't have enough speed to accomplish my work, or have the inability to download movies.
  • I wasn't informed the lines were oversold and nobody else could sign up

If you need help, please reach out the internet group here in Winlock and we'll do what we can to help you.

Time to Start Contacting Our Representatives

On Monday I mailed out letters, maps and newspaper articles about our community effort to solve our internet troubles.  A packet was sent to Senator Maria Cantwell, Sentator Patty Murray and Representative Jaime Herrera Beutler.  The body of the letter will be at the end of this post.  But first! They need to hear about this from more than one source.  Many of you have emailed me or posted in the Facebook group about your frustration.  Now is the time to also share your stories with our representatives.  Here is the contact info for each:

Senator Maria Cantwell
915 Second Avenue, Suite 3206
Seattle, WA 98174
(206) 220-6400
Online Contact Form

Senator Patty Murray
The Marshall House
1323 Officer's Row
Vancouver, WA 98661
(360) 696-7797
Online Contact Form

Representative Jaime Herrera Beutler
O.O. Howard House
750 Anderson Street, Suite B
Vancouver, WA 98661
(360) 695-6292
Online Contact Form

Here is the body of the letter I sent:
We are writing to ask for assistance with high-speed Internet access in our low-income, rural area, Winlock, WA. We know that we are not the only rural community getting left behind on the wrong side of the digital divide. It is our hope that you can help us with any or all of the following:
1.     Put pressure on CenturyLink, the only local, non-satellite ISP, to expand their service area and upgrade their existing infrastructure
2.     Direct us toward other rural areas you may know of that have found an Internet solution, particularly whitespace
3.     Help us organize a RuralInternet conference similar to Oregon’s (see enc. 1)
4.     Find out if there is a chance high-speed Internet might be a public utility in the future and, if so, what we can to do help bring that about.  Private industry is failing us.
 So far we have organized a community effort, Winlock Needs Internet (, and are working with residents to map out internet problem areas (see enc. 2). We tried to determine what help the FCC Connect America Phase II funds accepted by CenturyLink mean for our area but have not been able to get an answer to date. We looked to ToledoTel, an ISP in the next town over, for help but they referred us back to CenturyLink (see enc. 3 & 4)*. We have been investigating alternative ISP methods including microwave (impeded by trees and hills of which we have plenty), satellite (expensive, slow) and are now looking into utilizing abandoned UHF frequencies (whitespace) which will require creating our own non-profit to fund and operate.
 At a community meeting on April 8th attended by ToledoTel COO Dale Merten and CenturyLink rep Brad Althauser we learned that funding for 1 Gig fiber optic service in Toledo is not something that can be replicated in Winlock. We learned due to a minimum 20-30% natural loss over out-of-date copper lines CenturyLink cannot provide the 1.5 Mbps access current customers pay for. (Average reported speeds are closer to 50% of services paid for). We had reports of denial of service confirmed. Increased demand has created an over-burdened system and CenturyLink is denying new account requests. Buyers are now asking about Internet access before buying, impacting a housing market still struggling to recover from 2008. Mr. Althauser told us improvement was unlikely. Winlock cannot give the company a substantial return on investment. He gave us options including selling bonds thereby raising property taxes or crowd sourcing private funds to improve CenturyLink infrastructure. We are a small town with over 50% poverty facing a billion dollar corporation that just accepted hundreds of millions of dollars in federal money. Customers paying full price on less than half the promised service are being told the only path to improvement is to subsidize CenturyLink. We thought that was what the FCC CAPII funds were for. We have tried solving this on our own and now realize we face a task requiring the knowledge and support of more influential entities.  Any help would be greatly appreciated.
*enc 4 references the most recent article in the Chronicle about the ToledoTel/CenturyLink meeting.

Saturday, April 16, 2016

The Town Crier's Nolan Patching has a Solid Recap of the Meeting

"In impressive numbers, citizens of Winlock came together at the Winlock Community Building on April 7th to address the problem of high-speed internet around the area. While citizens for the most part inside of the city limits have high speed internet through CenturyLink, many outside the city limits and in the surrounding areas are cut off from this due to bandwidth limits. The meeting was much anticipated and it was shown in the enthusiasm of the crowd who eagerly wanted to speak to the representatives of ToledoTel and CenturyLink." Click here to read the full article.

Saturday, April 9, 2016

Post Meeting Service Map Update

With 139 households having responded so far, this is what our resident reported service map currently looks like.  

Green = No Complaints
Yellow = Slow but Tolerable
Orange = WiFi, Streaming and Dowloads Nearly Impossible
Red = Within Service Area but Bandwidth Exhausted
Purple = Outside Current Service Area
Blue = Gave up on CenturyLink Service or New Construction, Future Status Unknown

Thursday, April 7, 2016

ToledoTel/CenturyLink/Winlock Community Meeting

ToledoTel/Winlock Community Meeting snap summary

Dale Merten and Fred Ryder were there representing ToledoTel.  Brad Althauser was there representing CenturyLink.  Edna Fund, Lewis County Commissioner and Ruth Peterson, representing Senator John Braun were also in attendance.

Dale Merten began the meeting by explaining how ToledoTel was able to fund fiber to the home within the Toledo area and why, due to the type and restrictions of USDA funding, it wasn’t an option for Winlock.  He also mentioned NTIA and NOA Net funds that have run dry.  Community Connect is the only current fund with monies available.  The downside is the initial costs to apply for the funds are over $100k and the monies awarded would fall short of the actual cost of improving and expanding service.

Brad Althauser was up next and he heard from many frustrated CenturyLink customers and people who can’t become customers because of bandwidth exhaustion.  He explained about the limitations of the current system and the costs involved in upgrading/replacing the system.  He is aware of our high-speed internet shortcomings and knows that we have long outgrown the capacity of the current infrastructure but, without a major source of funding, has very little recourse.  Residents wondered why CenturyLink was charging so much and providing so little and also why the onus of fund gathering was on the community and federal government and not also on CenturyLink, and why CenturyLink can’t transfer profit gained from metropolitan areas to improve rural areas.  Not all answers were satisfactory to the attendees and few frustrations were alleviated at this meeting.

Residents asked about beaming WiFi signals to get service.  We are hampered by hills and trees surrounding Winlock so it isn’t a solution for many in the area.  ToledoTel Exede is also available to some.  The consensus is that, while better than nothing, it won’t solve the core issue.

The takeaway is now we know ToledoTel’s limitations in the Winlock area.  The WIN (Winlock Improvement Network) Internet Committee will be in contact with Mr. Althauser to break down just what can be done and how much it will cost.  Can improvements be done in phases?  Can an interim gain in speed be reached by replacing copper wires to nodes with fiber optics without initially re-wiring direct to residences?  We plan to map out current infrastructure with the help of CenturyLink and other companies with cable in our area to learn what we are working with.  We need to be going after our piece of the federal grant pie.  Our Federal Representatives need to be hearing from us.  Our personal experiences need to be popping up in their inbox and mailbox with regularity.

We have a long road ahead of us. This task requires us to work together as a community.  Time to dig in and fight for what we need to bring Winlock up to speed!  Thanks to all who attended and asked questions, aired frustrations and showed that Winlock means business!

Wednesday, March 30, 2016

Small Town Camaraderie

The Other Toledo featured our Winlock Community/ToledoTel meeting on today's blog post.  Check it out!

The Chronicle Shines a Light on Us Again!

Tuesday's Chronicle has an article about the upcoming meeting with ToledoTel.  This is the second time the Chronicle has brought attention to our high-speed Internet efforts!

Saturday, March 26, 2016

Come Meet With ToledoTel! We Need Your Voice!

Hi Everyone,
This is BIG NEWS!
While we continue to pursue CenturyLink and the FCC CAPII funds as a solution to our Internet troubles we are also chasing down other options. Tim White has been in contact with ToledoTel and encouraged ToledoTel to look into a Winlock expansion. The president and representatives of ToledoTel will be at the Winlock Community Building (607 NW Kerron Ave) on Thursday, April, 7 at 6pm.
The purpose of this meeting is for them to gauge the needs and community interest in the Winlock area and see if we can find a way to work together. We NEED as many people as we can to attend this meeting. Not only those of us with lousy internet but EVERYONE who has an interest in seeing our community grow.
I aim to print a meeting notice in the April 6th Town Crier. It is too late for me to get a notice in the next issue. I need help getting the word out. Please consider printing out the meeting notice and sharing it with your neighbors, friends, church groups, and anyone else you know in the area. If you would like me to email you the flyer in another format just ask ( ). Thanks!

Sunday, March 13, 2016

Who's Up for Some Documenting, Complaining, Filing, Waiting & Resolving (Hopefully)?

Last year Lifehacker posted suggestions for How to File a Complaint Against Your ISP and Finally Solve Your Problems.  I will summarize the parts that are relative to the issue in our area but I recommend you click the link and read the whole article.  Thanks to Mark V. for pointing me toward this info.

Lifehacker gives instructions for filing a complaint with the FCC against the ISP but there needs to be some groundwork first.  The tips in this post might be helpful for those of us who have been able to obtain service but I'm afraid they won't offer much for those of us who have been denied service.

First: Many of us have been using to assess our speeds.  Keep it up.  And keep records.  Do your tests regularly register results that don't meet the advertised speed?  What speed differences are you noticing between your plugged in devices and your wifi devices?  To file a complaint with the FCC you will need to show  repeated service under-performance.  Wifi data will not be as compelling as plugged in data.

Second: (Don't laugh - I know many of you have put in many an hour on the phone already) Try to resolve the problem with CenturyLink first.  Keep track of all conversations with them either via phone or chat.  Keep any promotional materials they have provided advertising speeds, contracts, etc.  Please refer to the LifeHacker post for more info.  I don't want to jack their post without giving them traffic and the info is important.

Third: File your complaint with the FCC using this form. (Again, the Lifehacker post is chock full of info here).

Fourth:  Wait.  Once the FCC sends your complaint to the ISP, the ISP has 30 days to respond.  If a resolution can be reached, great.  If not it may be time to file a formal complaint.  A formal complaint has a $200 price tag so here's hoping it won't come to that.

Those of you who embark on this route to resolution, please keep us all posted either on the FaceBook group page or by sending me an email and having me post here on the blog.

Monday, February 8, 2016


Good News!

Winlock Needs Internet was featured in an article written by Kaylee Osowski and published in the Chronicle on Saturday, Feb 6.  

So now what?  

Senator Braun's office is in the preliminary stages of looking into our Internet issues. I sent them email addresses and map pinpoints for the 23 of you I had on our list at the time (as of today I now have 50 households on our map).  If you would like to contact Senator Braun's office to express your support for our cause you can call (360)786-7638, send a letter to PO Box 40420, Olympia, WA 98504-0420 or fill in the form on his contact page.  You will find that link on under "Who To Contact" on the right side of this website.

Consider contacting the Chronicle via letter to the editor to reinforce our position and emphasize our problem. Per the Chronicle letter policy: "Address letters and commentaries to "Our Readers' Opinions."  Please sign them and include your full address and daytime telephone number for verification and questions.  Send them to 321 N. Pearl, Centralia, WA 98531 or email"

And finally, if you have friends neighbors or family in the area who have not yet heard of our project please send them a link to this blog or point them toward the Winlock Needs Internet FaceBook group.  The more the merrier and the more seriously we will be taken.

Please email me if you missed the article in the Chronicle and would like to read it.

Thanks Everyone!

Chattanooga TN solves it's Internet Woes - via HuffPo

Mark Velasco pointed me toward this article on Huffington Post.  Obviously there are some major differences between Winlock and Chattanooga.  Our population being significantly lower and spread out for one.  Still, it is heartening to learn about other communities solving the problem we are trying to work our way through.

Tuesday, February 2, 2016

Where We All Are

Red: No Access = New residents within service area who have been denied service because system is maxed out, residents outside of service area who have been told service will be provided but have been waiting 7+ years and residents outside of service area who have been told not to expect service anytime soon.
Orange: Very Slow = Can't run wifi, streaming video almost always impossible, downloads take hours, etc.
Yellow: Slow = Annoying and frustrating speeds but tolerable (barely)

Saturday, January 30, 2016

Help from our Senator

I received a request from Senator Braun's office for a list of names and addresses (street and email) of households in the area with no or lousy Internet.  Through our Facebook group, and email I contacted many of you to get permission to include your info.  I sent off that list today.  Staff members in the office will be discussing our troubles with CenturyLink and possibly considering legislation.  Get in touch via email ( or the FaceBook Group (search for Winlock Needs Internet if you are not a member of that group and would like to be) and let me know if you hear from them.