Farmer’s Tan and Washington Broadband

It’s been a lovely Easter weekend, our first to hit 70 degrees this year. I managed to plant some flowers, but that is all I’ve done to prepare for spring. I do, however, have a great start on my farmer’s tan.

In the “Who Knew?” department is this tidbit of information: The Washington State Department of Commerce has a five year program, the Washington State Broadband Office. (Yes, it was news to me, and I keep track of these things.) If you click on Mapping, you can view their interactive map which will tell you if you have broadband in your area and who the providers are. There are also tools for communities who want inital or better access to broadband for their areas, including grants for training.  They even have a Twitter feed!

If you aren’t in Washington, try looking up a “broadband office” for your state. It most likely will be part of the Commerce department.

An Open Letter to Film Producers

Dear Film Producers,
I just wanted to let you know that you are losing market share, actively, in a number of important areas. Here’s the situation:

  • People who live in more affluent parts of cities and suburbs are using their cable or broadband connections to access films and other forms of video entertainment. They are no longer going to DVD stores, using the mail via Netflicks, or necessarily buying DVDs outright, unless they really like them. They certainly aren’t going to movie theaters.
  • DVD rental stores are routinely closing across the country.
  • Rural theaters for first run films are rare and they churn through films, sometimes giving even big-name films only a week.
  • Many rural places do not have broadband of any kind. There is no DSL, no cable, only dialup, and very bad dialup due to old telephone lines. It looks like those areas will still not get broadband, according to the Washington Post
  • If rural dwellers can afford it, there is satellite internet access, but with a rather draconian Fair Access Policy. Hughesnet has 300Mb per day and Wild Blue has 17000Mb per month limit. Neither is adequate for movie watching. And these services are expensive.
  • There is good satellite TV, from DirecTV* and Dish. Some films, however, are not being shown there. On the premium channels, they are often shown a year after they come out.

Essentially, it’s becoming too difficult and too expensive for rural folk to see first run films. They are now getting out of the habit of watching them.

*DirecTV has now implemented a policy of deleting any PPV movie you place on your DVR after 24 hours. For those of us who are extremely busy, say, during planting or harvest, I may not be able to see the movie within that time, since I am out in the fields as long as there is light. (Sigh) If I buy one, I’m losing money. That means that I’ve stopped buying any PPV movies. Any. At all.

Make film watching more convenient for rural people. Get governments to provide broadband as a service, not just as a luxury. Otherwise, I might have to go listen to the radio or, heavens, read a book.