Broadband and the business community

Thu, 10/05/2017 - 8:15pm

The following was sent in by the New Shoreham Broadband Committee:

For the past few weeks we have talked about how poor internet service causes real problems for our Rescue Squad, The Block Island School and the Medical Center. But what about our business community?

Unfortunately, Block Island businesses from stores to hotels suffer delays and outages as well. One clothing store in town told us that slow response on credit card machines can affect business. (Remember Broadband is still internet but it is “super-fast and always there” internet). They tell us that today, unlike even five years ago, about 80 percent of transactions are credit card and only 20 percent are cash, so a good connection is critical. 

The hotels and B&B’s tell us the same thing. Customer interaction is slow. If internet service is down they cannot check guests in or run charges. Also guests are surprised that they cannot use internet. They would like to have internet service in their rooms. Using their cell phones for data can add to their costs of a Block Island visit. Even our larger hotels that have a special (very expensive) service from Verizon report service interruptions and outages with no explanation.

Another problem with slow internet is security. We see those little security cameras everywhere today, but here on Block Island businesses cannot use more than one camera due to poor service, so this becomes a safety and security issue. 

Another aspect of business is “work at home.” Someone attended one of our Broadband Committee meetings to tell us how she lives here and works from home for a large technology company. In order to do this on Block Island, she must use her cell data service, have a satellite internet service and a DSL line. With data caps she pays as high as $500 a month to complete her work. Another person reported that her parents have a home here and she does work at home for a publishing company. Every summer she visits for a week with her kids, but says she would spend the whole summer if she could do work at home from here. All these things could boost our economy if we fix them with high speed Broadband Internet. Please attend our next meeting and give us your input.