Broadband Solutions: Status of a Confusing Process

A look at where TAGNW, Jon Humphrey, and Whatcom County are headed for broadband Internet access.

A look at where TAGNW, Jon Humphrey, and Whatcom County are headed for broadband Internet access.

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• Topics: Whatcom County, Technology,

Jon Humphrey has written forcefully on NWCitizen about his efforts to bring the best internet service to all residents of Whatcom County. My effort here is to post reference documents for those who want to learn for themselves what Jon has been arguing for. The Technology Alliance Group of Northwest Washington (TAGNW) is a much respected local organization of internet and technology professionals. They have a committee working on a document, Broadband Solutions for Whatcom County, that county leaders will probably rely heavily on for legislation in our county. It is an important document that is now in the making. In the last couple weeks, Humphrey has been removed from this committee and his TAGNW membership has been suspended. Since this is a private organization, they can do what they want.

That said, the questions the rest of us have are: What are Jon's concerns, and what is the direction of this Broadband Solutions document that will impact all of us in Whatcom County into the future? Internet access to our homes and businesses is hugely important to all of us and this process should be done in front of the public, with full transparency. Thus this post.

Below is a link to a PDF file of version 1.4 of the draft document as it stood when Jon was suspended from the committee a couple weeks ago. I downloaded it from the TAGNW website where they had it prominently posted as a draft of their progress and thinking to date. It is not light reading, but rather grist for nerds and those who understand the Internet. This link, held within our website, can serve as a marker of the content and status of the document at the point when Jon Humphrey, who is clearly listed as one of its five authors, was expelled from the committee. 

Also below, is a link to a second draft document from four days later, after Jon had been expelled, but which still shows him as one of the authors. In spite of being a dramatically different document, this draft is also marked version 1.4. It shows the new direction TAGNW is now going with the Broadband Solutions document.  

I leave it to readers, at least those readers who can comprehend and inform us. Jon may write on this, and I might, as my professional experience with internet service in our county goes back to the early 1990s. Where we are now is where we were 25 years ago: with our government entities - Port, PUD, county offices, and City Hall - all still befuddled about local internet service.  

Here is the Executive Summary of the Broadband Solutions document. It is the same on both draft versions linked below. (The bolding is mine.)

The purpose of this paper is to outline internet communication standards necessary for the residents of Whatcom County to thrive into the coming decades. Currently, like many other counties in the US, Whatcom County has inadequate internet infrastructure and residents are at a disadvantage as a result. Recognizing federal and state service data, speed and price standards to be lacking when put up against the demands of current household and business demands, We propose the current standard be no less than 100 Mbps symmetrical (i.e. 100 Mbps download, 100 Mbps upload). This should be upgraded to 1Gbps Mbps symmetrical (with less than 30 ms of latency) by 2032. These fiber to the premises speed standards should be available for no more than $40 / month for 100 Mbps symmetrical service, and $70 / month for 1 Gbps service, with free 50 Mbps services offered to households below a predetermined income threshold. This standard should be delivered through a publicly owned, open access fiber-optic network similar to that of several nearby locales such as Kitsap County (managed by Kitsap Public Utilities District) and Mount Vernon, WA. To take advantage of the benefits of existing expertise and to maximize market based competition, internet service providers (ISPs) should lease bandwidth from the public network, maintaining and administering services to end users. 

An excellent proposal.  Now to the full documents.  Since last week, TAGNW website no longer displays the document.  Email and phone call attempts to learn why have not been responded to.  Luckily, I downloaded the documents earlier and we will keep them here on our website permanently. 

Attached Files

About John Servais

Citizen Journalist and Editor • Fairhaven, Washington USA • Member since Feb 26, 2008

John started Northwest Citizen in 1995 to inform fellow citizens of serious local political issues that the Bellingham Herald was ignoring. With the help of donors from the beginning, he has [...]

Comments by Readers

Jon Humphrey

Aug 02, 2022

Well, this article is slightly inaccurate. I was never expelled from the group. After posting an aritcle here on nwcitizen linking Sharon Shewmake and several other elected officials, supported by Whatcom Democratic Party Chairs Andrew Reding and Jamie Douglass, the chairs used their full weight to threaten TAGNW to get their way. Specifically they let TAGNW know that if they didn’t get their way they would do everything in their power to remove donations from the group to punish them. Sound like bullying by a powerful, wealthy interest? Well that’s because it is. Sound like fascism? Well that’s because it is.  
Secret meetings were held about me and a committee formed including my acusers and abusers. I was never allowed to know who exactly was on it. What did I “do wrong?” Well nothing in the gorup itself or in general. So Andrew Reding just did what Sharon Shewmake and her crew always do. They made things up.  
This document took a long time to create. So outside of the group I continued to work as a journalist and citizen advocate. Assuming that I still had my rights as an American citizen, especailly since TAGNW didn’t pay me. My articles would be used against me by Reding, Shewmake, Grant, Douglas, etc. against the public interest. In short, they will ruin public broadband and screw all 250,000 of us over if they don’t like one individual. 
Here are the two items that annoyed them: 
1. I held Reding accountable for his comments about tanking Dig Once if the Shewmake Cartel personally didn’t like someone.
2. I held Commissioner Grant accountable for passing our docments to a General Manger at the PUD, for approval, who already said in public that he doesn’t support public broadband. Grant fought hard to have this anti-public fiber GM hired. Why? So she could pretend to support progress while making sure it didn’t happen. This is the new Democratic party thing. They feign progress to get votes but make sure it never happens to please special interests. 
The rest of the story is here:
https://www.change.org/p/mayorsoffice-cob-org-bellingham-whatcom-county-public-fiber-optic-network
TAGNW is NOT a well respected group. A C3 now, in its past it was a C6 that worked agains the public interest to protect big telecom. Heance, I was reluctant to work with them in the first place. As a C6 that’s litearlly what it was formed to do. 
I got TAGNW $5,000 from COnsumer Reports to conduct RRUL testing with. TAGNW kept it all. 
I worked tirelessly on a computers for hte poor program called Reconnect with them and the libraries. Well they ruined that too to make Reding, Shewmake, etc. happy. Sound like progress to anyone else? Stealing from non-profits and the homeless? Cause that’s what the Corporate Dems. are doing. 
Thanks to their actions here TAGNW has lost a program that gives computers to the homeless. 
So I chose to stop giving hundreds of hours in volunteer work to them and I refused to apologize for things that I did NOT do.  
Reding continues to threaten other group members letting them know that the Dems. own the group now and that no information from the group better ever get out to the pesky public again without his express approval.
Douglas is rewriting the document to support the creation fo a private broadband company with his son Dan. Dan’s name was added to the document even though he did not contribute to the document.
Only 5 people worked on the document. Jamie and Andrew added nothing of value. They were there to babysit us on behalf of Shewmake, Grant, etc. They even tried to push through anonymous commenters during the public comment period to appease special interests. 

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