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What If Our Roads Were Run Like This?

Photo by EFF

My wife and I are buying a house in the Shelby area, so that we can spend more time with both of our parents and have a larger place for family gatherings.  

We’re very happy with the house, except that we can’t get reconnected, the DSL line that the previous owners enjoyed.  I’ve spent many hours on the phone with AT&T  mostly on hold, or desperately trying to navigate their menu system, or listening to the scripts recited over and over again by the sales and support staff. The story seems to be that DSL is simply not (no longer) available to our house.

Time Warner will not serve the house, apparently because there are not enough houses on our street.  The next street over, more populated, has had Time Warner for quite some time.  

Being an early adopter of iPhones and iPads, I have been able to keep unlimited data plans on both of them.  

I also have an AT&T hotspot device that provides WiFi for me via a local cell tower, up to 5Gb per month.  So I went to the AT&T store last night to get its data plan upgraded to 20Gb.  It seems that the only way that I can change the plan on that device is by also changing the plans on my iPhone and iPad, giving up my unlimited data there.  AT&T seems more interested in providing less service, not more nor better.

We are probably going to go with a Verizon product that will provide WiFi and Ethernet, via a cell tower, 20Gb.

The reason I burden you with this is my wondering,

“What if our roads were handled like this, as a service to customers rather than citizens?”  

“What if there weren’t enough people living in my area to result in enough profit for the road company to lay a road?”

“How would my children get an education, if they couldn’t go to school?  How would I get my work done, if I couldn’t get to work?  How could we shop for essentials, if we couldn’t get to the store?”

You get my point.  Our Internet connection has become as important to us as our roads.  Yet service depends on the convenience and profitability to AT&T and Time Warner.  What’s worse is that North Carolina it is now agains the law for municipalities to establish and provide Internet service to its citizens, thanks to the hundreds of thousands of dollars of compaign contributions from the telecommunications industry.

So what do you think?

Comments

  • becompassionate

    Salisbury now has its own fiberoptic internet/phone service, but from what I can see, it’s as expensive as TWC ever was and is “down” more often – In all my years as a TWC customer, I never experienced an outage. It’s really a problem when local businesses who depend on their internet connection for credit/debit card transactions have to suddenly start asking for cash. I didn’t know about NC’s law. Interesting.
    Carol Carpenter

  • quirkytech

    “Our Internet connection has become as important to us as our roads.” This a great point! Our Internet service providers hold us hostage for the services that we need in our lives. I’m moving to South Carolina soon – hoping the service is good in that area.

  • Staples HS

    I agree with you that we have become dependent on our internet
    service and the convenience of it. People no longer want to wait for the 5:00 PM news so they can get the latest national news. Society and
    people in general want information fast and dependable. How many of people of the younger generation know what a dial-up internet connection sounds like? This was played to us at an in-serve day for teachers and I know there were new teachers who didn’t know what the
    sound was.

    There were a couple of times when I got to school last week and the school server wasn’t working. The things I depend on my computer for were no longer available to me. I was scrambling to find a printed class roster so I could take attendance and know who should be in my class. My curriculum is not dependent on using technology as I teach vocational classes. I felt sorry for the teachers who depend on school technology because their lesson plans were no longer useful for that hour.

    If society and schools want students to use technology on an everyday basis then provide the framework that will support it. Teachers have to know what when developing lesson plans the server and internet will function the next day. Our school also has a lack of computers and computer labs for students to access. The school has run out of space to put more labs in so therefore we have started using computer carts. These carts over time break down along with the computers.
    Technology is great when it’s functioning properly and each student has access to it. It’s sad at times when my students have better access to the internet on their phone than the school does.

    These are my 2 cents and I look forward to your comments.

  • Mark Butler

    that’s the real difference between government and private enterprise. The govs responsibility is to serve all of the people, not just the easy ones. The question is when does Internet become a basic requirement like roads, power and police protection.
    fyi – we have many people in our area that are on dialup. In heavily wooded areas, satellite is impossible without cutting down trees and people would rather have trees then internet.


Photo taken by Ewan McIntosh in a Taxi in Shanghai

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Cultivating Your Personal Learning Network
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Redefining Literacy 2.0 (2008)
Classroom Blogging
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Raw Materials for the Mind
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