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.