by K. S. Brooks
One of the hot-button issues in this region is internet: There are a lot of people in our area who don’t have access to it. The reasons why are many as well as complicated. So when I heard about the Tech Expo on October 25 at the Spokane Community College Colville campus, I went. I was surprised by the number of smaller ISPs (Internet Service Providers) in attendance. I didn’t think people in this area had that many options available to them. (Of course, some still don’t, but we’ll talk about that in a minute.) People on Facebook, however, were not as impressed as I was. This got me curious, so when I got home, I watched a YouTube video recommended to me by Jay Xiongxtoyed at the Spokane Tribe Telecom Exchange booth.
I set aside the 22 minutes and watched “Why Your Internet Sucks” — an episode of the Netflix show called Patriot Act, featuring Hasan Minhaj. He raised a number of interesting points, which I then promptly researched. If you’re interested in watching his video, please keep in mind that he uses comedy and some curse words to get his points across. If you don’t care for that sort of thing, I’d recommend just believing that I did my due diligence and researched the heck out of this before writing, as I always do.
You don’t have to take what some dude in a TV studio has to say as truth. Closer to home, the proof that connectivity is an issue in these parts is sitting on the steps of the Chewelah Library after hours, in McDonald’s in Colville, and in ZIPs nursing a cup of coffee for three hours. People need the internet to get their day-to-day tasks accomplished including homework, healthcare, working from home, banking, and myriad other things.
BUT WHY SO DIFFICULT?
Why do we have such a hard time getting internet here? Two of the ISPs I spoke to who specialize in areas similar to ours say this is probably the most difficult place in the country to get internet to. The reason: mountains, valleys, foliage, and sparse population.
“This is a challenging area,” State Senator Shelly Short told the Silverado, and she likes the work that the Broadband Action Team (BAT) has done bringing people together to work on an area that has been traditionally unserved. “The state is working on more,” she said. “This is the tip of the iceberg really — there…