Broadband, sure; But what about better cell phone service? | Letters
April 24, 2012 · Updated 11:45 AM
I am aware that the broadband service in the islands is inadequate and I applaud OPALCO for their efforts to provide better distribution. However, not once in your editorial, nor in OPALCO’s ads. have I seen the word “cell.”
Many citizens have devoted three years of time in efforts to provide significant cell coverage to the county. During that time, the county staff has spent precious taxpayer dollars in time to update the current outdated ordinance.
The draft ordinance had even been through three planning commission meetings and made its way to the council when, suddenly, OPALCO swept in with the notion of providing broadband and cell service.
I think it is interesting to note that OPALCO talks about providing “emergency” phone service for the EMS and fire. However, if you cannot use a cell phone to access 9-1-1, how will you get any emergency services?
I understand further that any wireless phone service will be provided by towers as high as 150 feet, placed in OPALCO easements, along the road right-of-ways. Unless this is done everywhere on all the islands, there will be no cell service in much of the county.
For years, residents have been concerned about the unsightliness of antennas. One only needs to drive up Whidbey Island to see how unsightly antennas along roadways can be.
Modern antenna technology can locate antennas camouflaged as fir trees on ridgelines, requiring fewer antennas, providing broader service coverage.
Who will purchase the spectrum licenses? Does OPALCO have the expertise—or will they hire consultants with public funds? Remember, this is the public’s money you are using.
Sadly, and at great expense to the taxpayers of dollars and time, OPALCO has only delayed approval of an ordinance that would provide cell coverage to most all of the county and its visitors. Broadband service is an important service to the county and can be provided wirelessly, along with cell service.
It is time that San Juan County comes to grips with the needs and desires of its citizens and not just the operating plans of OPALCO.
Jane Cable/San Juan Island