The View from Sheboygan

To get a feel for the challenges of expanding Internet access, it's important to look at the issue not in the abstract, but on the ground--for example, by exploring Internet access as it affects an ordinary couple in an ordinary town.  A couple like the Steinbocks of Sheboygan, WI.

This week the Sheboygan Press talked to the Steinbocks about the fact that in their neighborhood--unlike in other parts of the city--they're unable to get DSL Internet access. Adam and Tabitha Steinbock note that while families only a few blocks away have DSL service, they're confined by the frustrating limits of dial-up. They've appealed to Sheboygan's Common Council to get answers about their Internet access.

In addition to considerably higher speeds than dial-up and generally lower costs than cable, DSL has the convenience of availability over existing telephone lines. However, as the Steinbocks' experience indicates, unless providers are committed to investing in high-speed Internet delivery, DSL's availability can be scattered and inconsistent.

In Sheboygan, according to a spokeswoman, AT&T intends to improve its network over the coming year. The Common Council will look into the issue at their next meeting.

Providing universal access, however, isn't a project that can be fully tackled by local authorities. To meet the needs of the Steinbocks and households like them, the U.S. needs to step up and look for bigger solutions.

Sheboygan Press

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