Telecommunication Blackout

I plan to attend the Los Alamos County Council meeting tomorrow, 2022-12-13, and read the following as a public comment:

Over the weekend Los Alamos County suffered a broad telecommunications failure for more than 24 hours. It is not clear to me how broad or dangerous that failure was. However I believe that it was both broad and dangerous. Both local news outlets were down till Monday morning. During the outage the only way I found to connect to the outside world was to drive to Ashley Pond and use the public WiFi there. Even with that connection, no information about the outage was available.

Telecom is a utility and natural monopoly. Utilities are classic examples of enterprises that are best provided by government or heavily regulated. In the past government regulation made sure telephone service was universally available and highly reliable. As technology has made twisted pair copper phone service obsolete, policy at the federal level has made regulation of telecom almost impossible. The alternative is local government ownership or at least control of local telecom.

As a step in the right direction, Los Alamos County recently created the position of Broadband Manager, and Jerry Smith is working to provide you options for addressing the issue in the long term. I hope the weekend outage stiffens your resolve to actually implement a long term solution. In the mean time, I ask that you direct staff to track telecom failures here and provide timely information and guidance to the public. I believe that if the outage had been in a utility managed by the County DPU, we would have gotten more prompt information about what was happening and how to respond.

Again, I thank each of you for serving on the Council.

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