One of the harder things in life is to publicly admitting you were wrong. Often it’s easier to just stay the course on a decision and look for a way out, rather than admit you made a mistake.
I jumped on the Opalco Broadband wagon big time, and as can be seen in this post, I thought the Opalco plan was the best option out there to bring San Juan County better internet service.
While I still think this was a good plan, I don’t think there is any way a majority of the co-op membership is going to support it. It’s also not clear that the board supports it 100% either.
Opalco is a risk averse organization, and for good reasons. Tackling the broadband issue is very complex, expensive and risky.
I was very hopeful in the beginning of learning about this plan in January. I spoke out in favor of it to those I knew, and in places like Facebook. But the more I learned of the details and the more I talked to other people in the broadband business, the more I came to realize that the solution to our problems would not be solved by scraping what we have already (throwing out all the copper lines already in the ground), and spending $32million creating a hybrid network of fiber and 4G wireless.
The Opalco board wants 5800 people to pre-commit to broadband by putting down $90. They started taking that money at the end of February. I committed my $90. At the annual meeting in early May, they only had 900 signups. These were the “easy” votes. These people were paying attention and probably had faith in Opalco to implement the plan. Getting the other 85% is going to be a long hard slog. In my opinion it’s going to end up in the same place as the $35million school bond. Rejected. People are not ready to take that big of a financial risk.
The question I see is; does Opalco already see the writing on the wall? Is there a plan B? Can they admit the direction they were headed was a wrong one, or will they continue to march down a path for the next 4 months, and at the end say “well the membership didn’t want to do this”?
Has Opalco actually asked the existing broadband providers; Century Link, RockIsland, Orcas Online and others, how Opalco could help improve broadband quality and availability in the county? Are there partnerships that could happen that could quickly fix some of the existing bottlenecks for a reasonable investment?
I have asked for my $90 vote back. I’m moving on to look for alternative solutions to the broadband issue because in my mind the Opalco Broadband plan is dead.