Wednesday, February 10, 2021

Billionaires Could Hold Solution To NM Woeful Broadband Coverage, Plus: Webber Raises Questions About Second Term And ABQ Is Remote Ready 

Will innovative billionaire Elon Musk or Amazon's Jeff Bezos or both finally provide New Mexico with desperately needed broadband for underserved rural New Mexico? They could, even though the wait could be five years or longer for their worldwide internet satellite delivery systems to be available here. 

Well-meaning but largely toothless legislation to deliver broadband to the many without is making the rounds at the legislative session. For example HB10 establishes an office to "coordinate (government) resources. . .to connect every community in new Mexico" and "create a comprehensive plan."
SB 93 is similar. 

What the bills don't do is put up enough cold hard cash to build out broadband. MLG daydreams about lawmakers giving up half their capital outlay to build broadband. But even if they did it would only generate $200 million when twenty times that amount or more is needed. A state estimate last year put the cost at $2 to $5 billion. It is wildly expensive

The Federal Communications Commission approved $165 million (in 2020) to 18 companies to build out broadband infrastructure in underserved areas of New Mexico. Over the next 10 years, the funding is expected to support buildout of broadband services to 64 thousand houses, businesses, and other locations.

That's where the satellite plan from Musk as well as one called Kuiper from Jeff Bezos comes in. 

While it could be years before Musk's worldwide internet makes it here, at the snail's pace we're expanding internet it may be the ultimate solution, even if the wait is painfully long:     

SpaceX has widened the scope of the public beta test of its Starlink satellite internet service, saying it is accepting preorders from potential customers. Prospective Starlink users can enter a service address on the company’s website, with preorders available for $99. Some regions show preorder messages that say SpaceX is “targeting coverage in your area in mid to late 2021,” while other preorders say 2022. The service will be offered first in the U.S., Canada, and the U.K. The company’s website emphasizes that the preorders are “fully refundable,” but notes in fine print that “placing a deposit does not guarantee service.” SpaceX also says that “orders may take 6 months or more to fulfill” depending on where users are located.

If they haven't already state policy makers ought to be tapping into what Musk and Bezos have going. At least it's something other than the piecemeal, hurry up and wait plan that Santa Fe offers. 


Monahan and Webber
Santa Fe Mayor Alan Webber had them doing a double take when he said this week he has not decided whether he will seek another term this November. He told the newspaper and radio talker Richard Eeds that he was focused on the work at hand and not his political future. 

However, a source close to Webber believes that like any politician he is trying to stay a noncandidate as long as possible. That source was firm in saying Webber is indeed running. 

The Mayor told us as much before the pandemic struck but given the drastic changes since, a decision not to run would not be a shocker. 

Webber's chief rival is expected to be Santa Fe City Councilor Joanne Vigil Coppler. There could be more foes as Santa Fe's traditional factionalism has intensified during the COVID crisis. 

Criticism of Webber has often been brutal but with a large progressive base he will be tough to beat. A second term won't be much smoother, says Eeds. "The place is so factionalized, it's basically ungovernable," he opined. 


This view seems  a bit pollyannish but ABQ could use some good news during these trying times, so here it is. Livability.com places ABQ in its list list of top ten remote ready cities (#8), saying: 

Working remotely can be isolating, but in Albuquerque, you’ll find a true sense of community and place. . . Whether you love watching (or learning!) flamenco, learning about Hispanic and Native American heritage, eating farm-to-table meals, wandering through art galleries or hitting the hiking trails after work, you’ll be able to find your niche right away in this eclectic southwestern city. If you decide to change career paths or you just want to bolster your resume, Albuquerque has an incredible mix of high-wage jobs and offers great access to continuing education, professional certificate programs, workshops, lectures and seminars. Nearby schools include the University of New Mexico (the state’s flagship university), Carrington College, Southwestern Indian Polytechnic Institute, Southwest University of Visual Arts, Brookline College Albuquerque and Central New Mexico Community College. 

The #1 remote ready city on the list is unheralded Columbus Ohio.  

 This is the home of New Mexico politics. 

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