Letter to Editor: Bring High Speed Internet to All of Rural Talbot, by Frederick Wyman II

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Bringing high speed internet and cable to residents of rural Talbot County is long overdue. Not only would this benefit all residents of the County who so far have been deprived of this basic necessity it would allow school children to have access to the tools that will make them contributing citizens in the future, enhance property values and stimulate economic development on the Eastern Shore.

It can not be emphasized enough how important affordable high speed broadband is to the education of the Counties student population as education is, as we all know, the largest component of our local communities budget and depriving our young people of this valuable tool will preclude them from reaching their full potential in our ever more technological world.

Recently the County Council had a work session to explore potential avenues to bring high speed internet and cable to rural areas in the County. They listened to a presentation from an ad-hoc committee who has been studying the options available as well as a potential supplier of “dark cable” explaining a possible process that was recently adopted in Kent County after a long study. The County Council as you know directed Mr. Mark Cohoon to prepare an RFD for the Council to consider when requesting proposals to wire the County for these essential services.

As someone who does not have access to these basic essentials of modern life, I wholeheartedly support the County Council’s efforts to bring our County into the 21st Century. I was therefore surprised, when it came to my attention that Easton Utilities who had let their franchise to provide cable and internet to Talbot County lapse in 2006, that the Council was entertaining and negotiating with Easton Utilities over granting them a new easement to provide these services in the County. Particularly bewildering is that this was discussed on the same day as the work session on broadband and no mention of this was made at the time of the work session.

As I understand it, Easton Utilities has been negotiating with two communities in Talbot County to provide cable and internet services to these areas exclusively and in order to do so they need to receive County permission to run their cables along County owned property and rights of way. It is troubling to me that the County Council on the verge of issuing an RFP, to provide high speed internet and cable throughout the County to all rural residents, would entertain a proposal from Easton Utilities to cherry pick specific areas where understandably they would make a profit and not require that Easton Utilities provide these same services to other rural areas.

While I am empathetic to the residents of these communities who presumably have been negotiating with Easton Utilities for a long time and undoubtedly being required to contribute to the capital cost of this undertaking and being required to sign long term contracts for this service that the County is not insisting Easton Utilities provide services in other areas of the County.

It was evident at the Council work session on Broadband that for this undertaking to be economically feasible Talbot County would need to contribute to the cost of the installation of the so called “dark fiber.” In addition it was suggested that Talbot County would also avail themselves of this new service for a fee for many worthy municipal programs including emergency services, government offices and schools. It is clear to almost anyone that for this project to be successful the entire community including the Town of Easton and Easton Utilities needs to work together to ensure a greater community good.

The County Council should consider the overall goal of delivering Broadband to all the residents of Talbot County in conjunction with any agreement with Easton Utilities. I will try to attend all meetings that the County Council has regarding Broadband as well as Easton Utilities pending agreement with the County to the extent that my schedule allows. Since I will be traveling in the near future I respectfully ask that my letter be read into the record so that all residents of Talbot County who may be interested in the subject are aware of the significance of the potentially precipitous actions the County Council is considering before entering into an agreement with Easton Utilities.

Frederick Wyman II

Letters to Editor

  1. Where are Our neighbors on this? Specifically Tom Wheeler and Al Sikes (current and former FCC Chairmen)?

  2. It is tragic that Talbot County has been far behind for far too long on meeting the necessity of affordable, unlimited high speed internet access. Depriving young people from the best possible access to these services that facilitate the advancement of education & jobs should be a crime.

  3. Dorothy Whitcomb says

    My thanks to Mr. Wyman for his detailed and thoughtful presention of the importance of extending broadband to all citizens of Taalbot County. I would like to support his assumption that broadband would increase property values, which are an important component of Talbot County’s overall economy. About a year ago, my husband and I lost a sale ofn our waterfront home in rural Talbot County to buyers who were very eager for a quick, cash transaction. They were quite forthcoming about their decision not to buy after all. Our satellite internet speed, they said, was just too slow. And, yes, they ultimately bought outside of our county.

    We agree with Mr. Wyman that a piecemeal approach to solving the problem of high speed internet access is short sighted. High speed internet access has become equivalent to a public utility in the minds of most people who would be interested in calling Talbot County home. It’s time that the County Council
    treated it as one.

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