« Previous  
 Next »

Broadband access

01/16/07 12:00AM
 MP3   Download MP3 

(HOST) The governor has made broadband access a statewide goal, and commentator Deborah Luskin says it can't come a moment too soon.

(LUSKIN) Even though I live on a paved road, my house is far from the information highway. In order to gain access to high speed internet, I have to drive my car to a library. The closest library is only three miles away, but it has limited hours, and even the larger library I frequently use, twelve miles distant, is dark overnight.

As a freelancer, I can set my own hours, and I often work from five to nine in the morning, and five to nine again at night. Part of the beauty of being self-employed in Vermont is being out-of-doors mid-day. While I would rather work from my home office during the hours I set for myself, I've had to adjust my schedule in order to access the internet. On occasion, however, to meet a deadline, for instance, I've been known to turn my car into my office and park in front of the library late at night to finish my work.

You might think it's a strange sight to see someone tapping away at a laptop, the blue screen gleaming through a windshield of a car parked in a Vermont village, but it's not so rare. Once you know what to look for, you'll see us internet gypsies logged on from parked cars or, in fine weather, perched like pigeons near accommodating buildings.

According to the governor, almost ninety per cent of Vermonters have access to broadband; according to my local representative, the number is closer to eighty percent, but the actual number hardly matters if it includes you. Aside from the inconvenience, the lack of high-speed service hinders my personal economy, and therefore the economy of Vermont.

With rising gasoline costs, telecommunication can be cost-effective. In a business such as mine, telecommunication can enrich the General Fund. I have high-paying out-of-state clients, but I pay income tax in Vermont. While I don't employ others in my small business, I also don't make many demands on the local economy.

I'd make even fewer if I didn't have to use the public roads to access the internet.

But I can't get high speed internet where I live. I routinely pester my internet service provider, but it's too expensive for them to run wires across our sparsely populated landscape. Not even my phone company can make an economic go of bringing broadband to my door, even though I can see the little building that houses my telephone exchange from my window.

As a businesswoman, I can appreciate private business's refusal to make an unprofitable investment; but as a Vermonter, I need broadband to earn a living. Clearly, we need some governmental intervention to make this happen, and I know there is a Working Group on the Rural Economy doing just that. I hope they come up with a solution soon.

Meanwhile, if you can't reach me at my home office, you can most likely find me cruising to connect.

Deborah Luskin teaches writing and literature to non-traditional students in hospitals, libraries and prisons throughout Vermont.

comments powered by Disqus
Supported By
Become an Underwriter | Find an Underwiter