Broadband… a Democratic issue?

I hope you don’t mind that I’m taking a little bit of time (and space) to talk about a technology issue. As a newer member of the 11th LD, I can honestly say technology issues aren’t usually mentioned a whole lot. Nevertheless, there are technology issues that certainly affect our society.

Look at what happened in Egypt. I’ve heard the revolution that recently occurred there being referred to as “The Facebook Revolution”. People organized, protested, and overthrew an oppressive government because they had access to technology that enabled the people of Egypt to communicate and organize. The people wanted reform, they want a Democratic form of government. After the ashes settle, they just might get that.

In the United States, we’ve been fighting over an issue called “Net Neutrality” for years now. Net Neutrality’s aim is to make sure all traffic on the internet gets equal access, equal bandwidth. Traffic from FOX News and traffic from your local Democratic blog are treated equally. If the opponents of Net Neutrality win out, we may see that personal blog traffic gets reduced to a trickle, while mega companies like Comcast and AT&T get to decide how internet traffic gets prioritized.

More local… the Seattle / Puget Sound region. We are home to great technological companies like Microsoft, Amazon, Boeing, Real Networks, etc. Despite this, we have a horrible imbalance in who gets decent access to the internet. Seattle is carved into regions where pseudo-monopolies in cable reign over chunks of the city. Some of us are stuck with Broadstripe, others Comcast. In my neighborhood, Qwest only get up to around 1.5 megabits a second, which doesn’t even reach the federal definition of broadband. Part of the 11th LD is in Beacon Hill, and we certainly face a lack of good choices here.

Without good, reliable access to the internet, entire parts of Seattle are falling behind. The neighborhoods that are being left behind have historically been poorer parts of the city that were mostly minority communities. Newer, more expensive areas like Redmond and Woodinville have access to broadband technologies like fiber optic lines, which the rest of us are stuck with older technologies that are pretty unreliable. This isn’t right, we desire something better, something that will keep us tied to the technological innovation that helps our community thrive.

I’m a member of the 11th Legislative District Democrats, but I’m also a member of, a group that’s trying to fix the disparity in the broadband / cable situation. We’re meeting with some members of the City of Seattle next week: Bruce Harrel (Seattle City Council), Bill Schrier (Chief Technology Officer of Seattle). We want our voices to be heard, we want you to participate.

Show up to our meeting on March 7th: (more details at
Beacon Lutheran Church
1720 Forest Street South 98144
Beacon Hill neighborhood

And please comment on our website:


Robert Kangas

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