Fast, affordable Internet access for all.
Like the debate over whether the meetings being held to draw up the rollout plans for the county should be public or private, NPB needs to better apply the rules of working within the expectations of open government. We demand transparency and a full accounting of tax dollars. It’s fair to wonder, as some board members did last week, just what NPB would withhold from the board if things don’t go swimmingly with the Lake County plan. All adjustments, all bumps along the road, need to be publicly and fully discussed. The county can use NPB’s disclosure mistake to its advantage, by holding NPB’s feet to the fire on all elements of the fiber rollout plan. If NPB can convince the board that this early communication snafu is the last, members would be right to keep moving forward with the project by permanently partnering with NPB.The real lesson to learn from Burlington is the importance of proper oversight and communication. Lake County Commissioners and the public need to be apprised how the network is doing, including what problems arise and how they are resolved (there are always problems!). This does not mean National Public Broadband should have to publicly disclose what it pays for channel contracts - but it will likely have to disclose more than competitors Mediacom, Qwest, or other private sector companies publicly disclose. Such is the nature of accountability. Any risk with the current plan is outweighed by the risk of continuing to rely on the private sector for this essential infrastructure:
You can’t begrudge the services already in place. But we can do better and Lake County is taking a lead on getting up-to-date, enviable technology to the region. Those who depend on higher-speed, dependable Internet have been looking for someone to step up. Last year’s line break that put cell phone, landline phone, and Internet service out for much of the North Shore was just one of the inadequacies put in the spotlight. The question to ask is this: How long are we supposed to wait for private companies to bring proper service to the area and what do those hoping to boost the economic footprint of the area tell companies who are demanding better service?The editorial goes on to discuss a local business operating out of Duluth rather than Two Harbors (County seat) because Two Harbors does not have the reliable (and presumably affordable) connection he needs.