As we move into the future of technology, we are faced with the decision if we are going to be a county that is stuck in the past or will we prepare for the future?
We are faced with the issue of not having broadband access to a large percentage of our residents in the county. I spoke to a concerned resident of Ferndale who mentioned that for her family to receive broadband at their residence, they will have to pay in excess of $20,000 to have the Telecom company run a line. The Ferndale School District issues tablets to some of their students and these families do not have access to broadband. Wireless is available but it is not reliable and it is slow depending on what is being downloaded. Plus having wireless is expensive.
We also have the issue of our EMS, Fire, and Sherrif departments having issues maintaining radio access in certain areas of our county. This creates a delay in responding to events and getting resources dispatched in a timely manner.
Lastly, we need to start attracting high tech companies to our county. To do this, we need to have a larger coverage of broadband accessibility. We will see companies like Amazon, Intel, and Microsoft never consider Whatcom for their businesses. This means hundreds, maybe even thousands of jobs that will never come here.
A dig once policy is an easy way to start preparing for our future. A dig once policy includes the installation of inexpensive, publicly owned, conduit and fiber-optic cabling whenever a repair that requires excavation is done. Up to 90 percent of costs associated with underground deployment is often due to the excavation rather than materials.
Some will say 5G is the future but this is false. There are many issues with 5G which for Whatcom county, means effecting our environment by clear cutting areas to allow the 5G towers to have a direct line of sight. Fiber-optics is the answer to our technological needs.
If elected, one of the first things I will do is to push to implement a Dig Once Policy.