To the Editor:
This letter is in response to the Islander’s recent editorial “A Question of Fairness.”
We disagree with the Islander’s position that the town should not contribute to the cost of installing fiber optic and coaxial cable to underserved/rural areas of the town. Failure to provide broadband access to the internet limits the ability of current and future residents to access and utilize its many resources – among them, holding a job and making a living in rural Maine.
The 2010 census reports 984 households in the town of Mount Desert. Adding broadband access for 300 customers is significant. We’ve been year-round MDI residents for 33 years – the last 10 living in Pretty Marsh. I telecommute for a company based in Florida but am unable to work from home due to unreliable wireless access.
Instead, I rent office space with stable and reliable broadband service in Southwest Harbor. We have tried all of the wireless options from our home. While there has been modest improvement by using our cell phone provider, AT&T, we are now able to get two bars most of the time although it is intermittent with frequent loss of signal.
Bandwidth saturation is a problem when thousands of tourists and cruise ship passengers wake up and turn on their wireless devices around 8 a.m. Download speed slows to a crawl.
The broad population’s need for reliable internet service has evolved rapidly over the past 20 years. To say that those of us in Pretty Marsh should have known better and paid less for our land and our homes is not fair or true. Our crystal balls didn’t warn that the town might say we are “too rural” for certain services. If the same logic was applied 100 or so years ago as the island was wired for electricity and roads were paved, Pretty Marsh would still have dirt roads and live in the dark.
A community’s needs are a shared burden. We all pay taxes supporting services that we may not as individuals require or use. Because much of the town has adequate internet access should not mean the town is absolved from providing it for the rest of us.
Please vote in favor of the proposed bond issue at town meeting on May 2.
John and Betsy Hewlett