Editor’s Desk

Posted 3/8/22

FROM THE My broadband story March 2020 is a month none of us will soon forget. It’s the month our world changed forever. As you saw in last week’s Journal, we are collaborating with Western …

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Editor’s Desk



My broadband story

March 2020 is a month none of us will soon forget. It’s the month our world changed forever.

As you saw in last week’s Journal, we are collaborating with Western Wisconsin Needs Broadband and Pierce County GrassRoots Organizing to bring you a series of articles that focuses on the need for affordable, quality and sustainable high-speed broadband in Pierce County. We will share the stories of your neighbors and friends, local businesses and students, and how they have been affected by lack of internet or poor-quality internet. What was once a luxury or nice convenience is now a necessity in our modern world. That became painfully apparent in March 2020.

Our family lives amongst the rolling rural hills, so we have felt the pain of poor internet. We are not far from town, but we do not have access (yet) to high-speed fiber optic. We have a wireless internet plan through AT& T which is usually reasonably reliable, but expensive. When I say reliable, I mean that it’s functional if we’re not all trying to access it at once. And if we go over our allotted data per month, which isn’t hard to do with six of us, then expensive overage fees are added, which is always an unwelcome surprise. When everything shut down in March 2020, we learned pretty quickly how much we needed quality internet. My husband teaches high school social studies, current events and psychology, so he was thrown into teaching his classes online, Zoom meetings with students and constant email communication. I can’t tell you the countless hours he spend trying to connect with students, made more difficult by a shoddy internet connection.

Our four children spent the rest of the 2019-20 school year online, which meant four kids having Zoom meetings with their classes, completing work online in Google Classroom and on other platforms, and needing to access their email. It was an utter nightmare. Half the time, the Zoom meetings wouldn’t come through or were choppy and delayed. The kids had to take turns doing their school work, so not everyone was online at once. Not to mention keeping up with the constant stream of communication from the school district and teachers (appreciated, but not fun to access if you have crappy internet).

While playing teacher to four children, I was also forced to work a full-time insurance job from home, which involved connecting to my job’s network, taking phone calls through my laptop and essentially doing everything from providing quotes to researching claims online. A lot of times, the kids would have to wait to do their homework or online lessons at night, when I didn’t need to be on the computer. I hate to admit it, but I’m pretty sure the kids heard some choice curse words every now and then from us. Isn’t it always when you need to work the most that the internet fails? That’s how it went for us.

We know we were not alone, and in fact, that many families had it worse than we did. Some didn’t even have any internet at all. I can’t imagine trying to navigate all of that and having to access internet while parked in a parking lot, using a business’s wifi connection. Some families had to do that! Just so their children could continue their education. My daughter’s dad’s family had no internet, so her stepsister had to move in with a friend for the rest of the year, to complete her sophomore year of high school. She had to move out of her home!

If nothing else, this pandemic taught us that, like it or not, we need high-quality, high-speed internet to function in today’s world. I sincerely pray we never have to go through anything like those school and work days in 2020, but what if we do? And even if we don’t, if we want to attract businesses and families to our beautiful county, if we want to be part of the world, we need to be able to compete by having that internet connection.