I am deeply disappointed that OPALCO abandoned its proposal to bring broadband to the entire county before a larger share of members had decided whether or not to support it.
The proposal involved taking on significant debt and posed real risks for OPALCO, but for members, not going forward is much riskier.
Already we are well behind in internet capacity. Virtually every aspect of business, education, medicine, security, not to mention entertainment, depends increasingly on internet bandwidth with demand projected to increase many times over.
OPALCO’s proposal would have given nearly all members fiber optic or high-speed wireless connections to take us into the next decades. Given our small market and difficult terrain, the private sector is not going to invest to build us such infrastructure.
We will have to do it ourselves, and OPALCO is the only practical vehicle.
Now, OPALCO will lease fiber to providers, over time adding fiber as it upgrades lines. Some will get more speed soon, but everyone will still depend on and be limited by copper for part of the connection; others will be left out altogether.
Service will almost certainly be inadequate for the growing need for broadband, leaving us unable to keep up with economic and technological change.
The future prosperity of these islands may depend on this decision, so everyone should have the fullest chance to weigh in.
Necia L. Quast/San Juan Island