Saturday, October 15, 2011

Internet Access For All Should Be National Priority

Here in Mountaindale, it is not hard finding people who do not have internet access...can almost see all those who live over on Church Road jumping up and down waving their hands shouting me, me, me when the question is posed, "Who does not have reliable internet service in our area?" Was tweeting from the Mountaindale Inn 's Open Mic night this past Wednesday night when a young man sitting beside me lamented his own lack of internet access over on Church Road...three small start up businesses are over there that he knows about, all of them without reliable access to the web, Global Net at best spotty if rumors are too be believed, and so slow as to be worthless for anything more than checking one's email. Another Church Road resident's children do their homework in downtown Mountaindale, rather than at their house for one simple reason...they can get online in town, but not in our out lying areas.

Mountaindale Park has neither cable or broadband access to the much more profitable would this Town of Fallsburg campground be if it did? Internet access is a commodity, but it is also a necessity in our modern times, and even more important it is the must have ingredient in building a road to tomorrow as Steve Israel so eloquently pointed out in his "Times Herald Record" article in yesterday's paper. In today's modern day society, internet access should not be a privilege, but a right, access to it a necessity in our homes, in our businesses.

A young woman can't take online college courses because her part of Sullivan County doesn't have high-speed Internet.

Scores of flooded, stranded Ulster County residents can't find out where to get food or shelter because they don't have that high-speed connection to download the Watershed Post blog.

How can our children compete when they cannot access something as basic as an online college course? Should scores of stranded residents have their lives unnecessarily put at risk because they do not have basic reliable access to the internet? Surely we as a nation can do better than this?

In Fallsburg, our elected officials are in the process of negotiating a new contract with Time Warner, and with luck they will be able to plug in a few more of the holes in our community where internet access at best is a shaky hope...should it have to be like that? Is it time for the Federal Government to step in and deem Internet Service Providers are Public Utilities, and make it mandatory that they provide fair and equal access to the internet to EVERY AMERICAN? Has the time come for our nation to eliminate discrimination based upon where you live? Has the time come for our congress to provide equal rights (and equal access) to Rural Americans, has the time come where our future depends on America linking up every home in the United States, providing internet access to one and all?

As Steve Israel says about internet access, "It's the difference between merely surviving or thriving."