During the Newberry Community Services
District monthly board meeting Tuesday, July 28, 2015, Ellen Johnson, president of
the Newberry Springs-Harvard Property Owners Association started the open public comment
segment by requesting the CSD board to submit a letter supportive of broadband in Newberry Springs;
a non-budgetary matter for the CSD.
Director Robert Shaw was not present; those that were, seemed
attentive and most understood the critical importance of having broadband available
at an affordable rate that families in Newberry Springs can afford.
We say most because Robert Vasseur flip-flopped the other way.
Vasseur stated that he has Internet access that serves his personal needs. That although
he would like to pay less for it, he is happy that his needs are taken care of. Vasseur
further stated that he felt that the CSD would be overreaching its authority to authorize a
position letter supporting Internet access for the remaining community.
Vasseur is an excellent CSD representative for Newberry as he
examplifies the pervasive me, me, me attitude and the apathy of the community.
As long as 'me' is selfishly taken care of, to hell with trying to improve things for anyone else.
County First District Supervisor Robert Lovingood's field
representative, Mr. Ron Frame, was in attendance and Frame spoke before the CSD
board supporting broadband for the community. Frame stated that government
supports Internet connectivity for every citizen and that currently there is funding
available for the installation of broadband that Newberry Springs could tap into.
Ellen Johnson concentrated her talk on the proposed Verizon
sale of its landline assets to Frontier Communication. The proposal is currently
before the California Public Utilities Commission (CPUC) for approval. The Newberry
Springs Community Alliance has gone on record with the CPUC requesting that if the sale
is approved by the Commission, a mitigation condition of the sale should include Frontier
providing broadband service to Newberry Springs; and that such service should include
a $10-monthly rate for low income qualifiers.
Ron Frame also referenced a project called Digital 395 by
Praxis Associates, Inc., that has recently completed a high-speed fiber-optic
broadband backbone from Barstow up Route 395 to Reno. Having completed
that project, the company is now making an application to run a similar
fiber-optic line from Barstow to Las Vegas.
A tentative route to Las Vegas from Barstow would follow
Route 66 to Newberry Springs and then turn north to Interstate-15 and continuing
out to Baker, and then on to Las Vegas. A spur line is planned for the
military bases, including Fort Irwin; and one from Baker to Shoshone is being
The Newberry Springs Community Alliance has been in talks
with the head developer of this proposed project. The results are this: the
project would like to serve Newberry Springs because the project could use the
community's support in acquiring government funding; and greasing the procurement
of permits necessary for the project. Unfortunately, the company
does not feel that it can offer an affordable connection rate for Newberry's
low income families.
For the Digital 395 project, a company called Race
Communications is installing fiber-optic connections to every
home in Boron. Tied directly to the Digital 395's backbone, subscribers
are receiving a 1,000-megabites per second speed (download and upload) for a $60 monthly
fee; compared to about 2-megabites per second download that Newberry Springs is
receiving from Desert Wireless for about $50 a month.
Yes, some of us would quickly grab what Boron is receiving;
however, the vast majority of Newberry cannot afford $60 a month. Having
optical fiber in Newberry that the majority cannot afford is not serving the community.
Bringing in high-speed broadband to Newberry would require
a great deal of federal dollars. To include a monthly low income subsidized
rate for those of low income would be very costly to taxpayers supplying the federal funds.
The opponents to federal support for broadband have a study
that indicates that most families who have federally supported broadband do not use
it for education or work; most use it for games or for streaming movies.
Why should taxpayers support such? If people want all the modern conveniences,
why move to the rural desert?
The reality is that people have always expanded and lived in
rural areas; and in this country, their children have a right to equal education.
Even if the family's broadband is only used five-percent of the time for critical
educational studies, access for those studies is necessary.
Today, many educational classes, be it college, university,
or educational programming aimed at elementary through high school, require capable Internet
connectivity. Home jobs using the Internet are growing daily. Almost every
facet today is becoming tied to the Internet and capable broadband is a necessity.
Barstow may not have all the major stores, but the major stores are
online. Many of their websites offer hundreds of additional products that
their stores cannot stock; and many of the online stores offer free shipping to your door.
Great bargains are found on the Internet and those of low income in Newberry need to stretch
their purchasing resources.
So which of the two broadband proposals should we support?
The Verizon-Frontier proposal or the Barstow to Las Vegas line? The answer
is simple, we need to vigorously support both!
It is too early now to support the Barstow to Las Vegas line;
but time is now running out on the opportunity to respond to the Verizon-Frontier sale
application. If you want
reasonably priced high-speed broadband in Newberry, you need to write a simple letter
to the California Public Utilities Commission asking for it.
Don't expect your neighbor or someone else to do it for you, THEY WON'T! You
MUST do this for yourself, your family, and your community. And when you have
finished, pompously shame your friends to follow your marvelous lead.
To make it easy for you to participate, below is a simple template.
You can, but don't have to, state a position on the Verizon landline sale to Frontier. Like
making a pie, you control the ingredients. The letter can be as simple as: The community
of Newberry Springs is financially disadvantaged. Please help us acquire boardband service,
and have a $10 monthly rate for those who qualify as low income. Or, your letter can include
more as outlined below.
You can select some of
the comment pointers below, or create your own; but let the Commission clearly understand
the poverty and high government relief in Newberry Springs.
Available funding for
broadband expansion is going to rural communities like Newberry Springs that are economically
disadvantaged. The more that the Commission hears from us that we qualify, the greater
is our chance of acquiring broadband. And again, please request that Newberry Springs
be given broadband service at an affordable $10 monthly rate for those qualifying as low
income. This emphasizes Newberry's qualification.
We need support letters dramatizing that Newberry Springs
despirately needs broadband service (whether or not the Verizon Communications sale
to Frontier Communications is authorized). As a citizen, you are welcome to state
your opinion whether you support the sale or not. It is best to support your
opinion with one or more reasons. You may state your support for broadband by
including one or more of the following points. (Please rewrite using your own words.)