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The Need for DSL Access for All in the Ward

January 24, 2005 25th Ward 2 Comments

To some DSL access might not be a big issue (if you still use that Smith-Corona). But in today’s world internet access is a valuable tool for young and older alike. For many businesses, such as real estate, it can be critical to survival.

However, much of the 25th Ward East of Grand lacks the availability of DSL service. Areas to the North & West of the ward enjoy DSL service. As a REALTOR® I can tell you this makes a difference to a greater and greater number of buyers. Those doing rehab work also know of the lack of DSL and sometimes avoid the area – knowing their properties will be less appealing to internet savvy buyers.

Currently SBC controls the equipment and access for all providers of DSL. Companies such as Earthlink rely on SBC’s lines for their service. Only upon getting SBC to add additional stations to serve all of the city will this change. As a result, those of us in this red-lined zone turn to Charter for their high-speed service. Currently Charter has a $19.99/month special for the first three months but then you return to their regular rates which start at $39.99/month. Compared to SBC’s current rate of $26.95/month ($19.95/month if you use SBC Long Distance) you can see how the cost difference can big a deal to those on lower or fixed incomes. With many dial-up services charging rates similar to SBC’s DSL service it is very feasible for many residents to consider their service. Finding an extra $250/year plus taxes for Charter’s service is not always an option.

Of importance to business is often what is known as a “Static IP” address. SBC’s Static IP plans start at just $54.95/month – for residential or business. This is something Charter cannot offer due to their technology. To a business that needs a Static IP the only alternative is what is known as ADSL (or similar types of lines) which are often well in excess of $100/month. Again, the cost difference is something a small business must consider when deciding where to locate.

Nearly 70% of the registered voters in the ward are under 50 years old – we are computer & internet users. Many of the people I’ve talked to in the ward that are older than 50 also use the internet for communications. To retain these residents and to attract new home owners we need to consider access to technology. Almost 30% of the voters are in their teens and 20s. As these young folks begin their families it is important to keep them not only in our ward but in the city. I have a 9 year-old niece that has her own notebook computer and a 6 year-old great niece that is great with computer learning activities – they take keyboarding class not typing. Access to the internet is a very important part of educating our children – especially when preparing school reports. Parents also use the internet to check in with schools on the progress of their kids.

Lack of DSL availability is a very real issue to individuals, families and businesses in the city. I want to work with the Aldermen in the adjacent wards that are also not served by SBC’s DSL and seek to rectify this injustice. Together we can get SBC to make the necessary improvements to give all of the city a level playing field.

– Steve Patterson


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