Austin Estates Struggle in a Connected City of Bryan TX

Inability to have adequate internet service may appear like a silly thing to protest. True that the Internet is used for entertainment purposes, like social media, YouTube, etc. However, there are many other required uses now that our society is revolving around and demanding. Not just our society, but the World as a whole. Just about every industry is moving their business forward with technology, all lead by what? Ability? Connectivity? You bet.

What CAN you NOT do without internet?

Function. Pay bills, manage financial accounts – trade stock, accounting, news, research, take classes in a virtual classroom, receive communication for kid’s school events, and the list continues to grow as our society grows and conforms to this new way of life.  The cloud? Yeah, definitely way out of reach for DSL users.

The simplest, but required, activities are not possible. For example, from a consumer standpoint, just the ability to login to access financial records, answer emails, pay bills – these all would be considered standard practices for just about anyone/everyone. Considering recent catastrophic events, this becomes an absolute necessity when postal service shuts down.

Not to mention that you cannot enjoy what others in the same city, even blocks away can enjoy for home entertainment options. Our homes are assessed at the same tax rate as everyone else. We receive poor quality services at higher prices buying inoperable results that that do not begin to meet the requirements of today.

Amazon, HULU, NetFlix, and even Dish services require internet services to enjoy rented and/or purchased movies. However, if you had internet, and you were not concerned about the availability of certain channels, you could eliminate your dish service completely, a savings of about $150 a month.

You pay more for service that is intermittent, and consecutive use is limited to no more than a minute or two without timing out, waiting and reconnecting. Currently, I personally pay over 150.00 per month (INTERNET ONLY), and the results of the speed test that I just ran show download speed of 6.8 and upload speed of 0.797. In June 2016, The Federal Communications Commission defines internet speed of at least 25 Mbps downstream and 3 Mbps upstream (25/3.  I would die for this kind of service!  That is the minimum standard! I pay for the maximum amount of bandwidth offered.

What else does it limit?

Security Products? Energy Efficient products? Smart Products. Never going to happen.  Even if you had enough service at any given time to run your security system, would you really want an intermittent security system? So, now you pay for 2 services that do not work?

You are never going to be able to have the “smart home” features. Don’t even waste the money. I installed a Ring Doorbell. What a joke that was. No security feature there.  So, spent another $500 on just equipment to try and boost the signal to the doorbell.  I might as well just give the money to my 9-year-old.

Buyers do not want our homes!

I am in Real Estate and I can confirm based on my own experiences with buyers; buyer’s do not want to buy houses without internet options that offer capabilities of the high-speed internet. (remember this argument for tax time next year)

Imagine yourself as a buyer. Would you buy a home without internet service? Or even one with Frontier?  I certainly would never do it again! In Mr. Picard’s article, he writes

“Anecdotally, I hear all the time that people pass up houses [without broadband availability],” he says, “but I don’t have any way to quantify that.”

Realtor.com published another article not only finding the same conclusion, but those with the Internet have an increased home value. “A 2014 study by the University of Wisconsin at Whitewater also found that access to the Internet could increase a home’s value

Our Kids need it too!

Another article reports “Home Internet access and parental support were significantly positively associated with technology self-efficacy, interest in technology, perceived importance of the Internet, and perceived impact of the Internet on learning. Findings from this study have significant implications for research and practice on how to narrow down the digital divide.” (Lei and Zhou 2012)  United Nations Report Declares Internet Access a Human Right article by Jenny Wilson writes in Time Magazine

So, what is considered “A Fundamental Right”?

An online resource provided an article describing a poll conducted by BBC World Service stating the following:  “Almost four in five people around the world believe that access to the internet is a fundamental right, a poll for the BBC World Service suggests. The survey – of more than 27,000 adults across 26 countries – found strong support for net access on both sides of the digital divide.

Countries such as Finland and Estonia have already ruled that access is a human right for their citizens.

International bodies such as the UN are also pushing for universal net access.” (Internet access is a fundamental right BBC News n.d.)

“A United Nations report released Friday declares Internet access a human right. Presented to the General Assembly, the report by UN Special Rapporteur Frank La Rue states that, “the Internet has become a key means by which individuals can exercise their right to freedom and expression.” (LA Times via The Atlantic Wire) Top French Court has declared Internet Access a “Basic Human Life” – and by this definition my takeaway? I don’t even get the basics?

Overall, almost 79% of those questioned said they either strongly agreed or somewhat agreed with the description of the internet as a fundamental right – whether they currently had access or not.

Sound silly that it be a “Human Right”?  Not in our times.

Theories have been formed around statistical research that 1) confirmed the right and 2) tested the right and confirmed the results. (Wang

, Time to Think about Human Right to the Internet Access: A Beitz’s Approach 2013)

In the same worldwide poll conducted by BBC, their findings show that specifically in the USA that the internet has given them greater freedoms. Is this not a human right?

Now that we all agree that this is a fundamental right, whose responsibility is it?

Based on my research I have concluded that the responsibility falls upon the providers through both their core business model as well as their corporate social responsibility.  I do believe that it is a collective responsibility of the city.  There must be a resolve. In my efforts alone I have exhausted all possibilities. Today was the final blow. The local cable company gave an initial quote for MY STREET ONLY of $300,000.00 to bring internet 30’. So – the way I interpret that is that I am to pay them $300,000.00 to bring their service to new accounts that will make them money. Hmm.

As most Realtors, I have a dedicated home office. Recently I closed my office in town because it was impossible for me to be in two places at one time and the agents are either working out of their home or showing houses. Besides, most of the functionality of my business is online and out in the field. Rarely am I conducting any face-to-face business activities that are not either in someone else’s house, a title company or Starbucks for coffee. My office expense was $3000.00 a month.

Does it seem reasonable to pay $3000.00 a month for the Internet?

The job expectations from both my traditional and corporate clients require the immediate and constant use of the Internet – often for hours upon hours.

  • Answer emails immediately and the repercussions if not done? They go elsewhere. I just received my monthly report from my email service. In August, I had 8102 emails received and sent 384. That is 12.8 emails sent per day (averaged) and 270 emails received per day. Most of them arriving all at once because of the inability for continuous service.
  • Login to the corporate portals and complete the asset manage property requirements. (there are no apps or compatible browsers to allow mobile phone completion, and if there were, the bandwidth used to try and upload/download would send my bill to match my tax bill.
  • Internet for evaluating properties – accessing MLS, job performance requirements.

30 Days and 7 files added? For the kind of traffic of 8000 plus emails, you can imagine that is transferring of documents, etc. The cloud is not an option. Uploading anything is impossible. – see upload rate above.

Educational restrictions – let it be said

I just completed a class at UC Irvine. It was almost impossible for me to stay connected in an online meeting room to complete a team project. I ended up having to get the notes and discuss over the phone.  My inability to communicate via connected with visuals lead to excessive work.

  • Our children are EXPECTED to have online access. We don’t get grades anymore! We get an emailed link to go to a site.
    • We are supposed to order lunches from school portal
    • We are supposed to get parent/school communications through email and portal access.
    • Kids use online education resources and research, google slides etc.

Seriously, I could go on. Please tell me you get the point.

The effort?

I feel that if a city annexes an area, imposing a citywide tax rate, there should be an equal distribution of services among the taxpayers – or at a minimum to provide services the basic & fundamental needs.  Instead, we are penalized by high taxes, ineffective DSL, high water bills for private providers, (which is at the end of the Wixon Water lines with inability to increase pressure – which means that there is a substantial question of whether the hydrants could push enough water to put out a house in flames, but that is just another issue).

While I am not a city planner, not by any stretch of the imagination, I am a business owner. I do understand the concept of supply and demand. Should these things not be a consideration before you annex area? If you do not own the water lines, why do you put the burden on the resident and apply the same tax rate as those being supplied public water? More importantly, what about the financial burden this creates for homeowners here lack of services drives their property values down? Not just down but out of the market.We do as much as we possibly can to improve our home, and based on the continued increase in my assessed value by the taxing authority, they think so too. Yet I will never be able to sell my house if I wanted to or had to.  I think there is a definite obligation & responsibility. Don’t you?

For more reading, http://vtrural.org/programs/digital-economy/services/wifi/toolkit

https://www.fcc.gov/consumers/guides/getting-broadband

References

n.d. How fast should my Internet connection be to watch … Accessed 9 21, 2017. http://entertainment.howstuffworks.com/fast-internet-connection-for-streaming-hd-movies1.htm.

n.d. Internet access is a fundamental right BBC News. Accessed 9 21, 2017. http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/8548190.stm.

Lei, Jing, and Jingye Zhou. 2012. “Digital Divide: How Do Home Internet Access and Parental Support Affect Student Outcomes?” Education Sciences 2 (1): 45-53. Accessed 9 21, 2017. http://mdpi.com/2227-7102/2/1/45.

Wang, Xiaowei. 2013. “Time to Think about Human Right to the Internet Access: A Beitz’s Approach.” Journal of Programming Languages 6 (3): 67. Accessed 9 21, 2017. http://ccsenet.org/journal/index.php/jpl/article/download/29976/17759.

Wilson, Jenny. 2011. United Nations Report Declares Internet Access a Human Right. June 07. http://techland.time.com/2011/06/07/united-nations-report-declares-internet-access-a-human-right/.