LAWTON, Okla. – If you didn’t know, in America, the internet has always worked on a corporate “dibs” policy. A company will smooze over the city government, they’ll strike a deal, and whoever gets there first is usually the winner. That being said, as much as our technology has changed over the years, one has to wonder why the provider dibs hasn’t.
There are two main internet providers here in Lawton. AT&T and Sparklight affiliate Fidelity Communications. As you may or may not know, they both provide their own versions of the internet. AT&T provides DSL in two relatively small neighborhoods here in town, and Fidelity provides cable broadband to the rest. While it’s easy to complain on the days neither of them work very well, I’ll give benefit of the doubt that both are doing their best to provide this service. It’s just that nobody ever talks about how great something is when it works perfectly… It’s always those who are having problems that get the biggest stage to shout their complaints from.
Here’s the real question… Should Lawton have more internet providers?
It’s 2020. We’re figuratively six years into this current decade, internet has been a staple in every home in America for twenty years, and if anything, the rona shenanigans has shed light on a system just begging for more competition.
Why do we need competition? It breeds greatness.
Think back to when gas stations used to have gas wars. They’d fight each other on the billboard signs offering gas as cheap as they could to entice people to shop there… Who won in all that chaos? We the consumers. Competition forces companies to be both better and cheaper than the other. So I’ll ask again, do you think Lawton could us more internet service providers? Of course… but here’s the catch.
The metaphorical “dibs” is really a fat contract our ISP’s have with the city. One company gets an exclusive to offer X type of internet, the other company gets a similar exclusive to offer Y type of internet. So long as they report that they’re operating within the borders of those contracts when it comes to problems, fixes, outages, etc… they get to remain the exclusive provider of whichever internet they provide.
Here’s how we get competition… When you have issues with your internet, of course you need to contact your provider and ask them to correct the problem. You should also contact someone at the city, lets say Lawton City Manager Michael Cleghorn since he bridges the gap between city services and the elected officials. People tend to believe what they’ve been told if they’ve been told enough, so when you have problems, let someone that actually matters know. This is truly better than venting on social media pages. Through this, perhaps we can affect real change and see Lawton become a city on the cusp of greatness in the field of internet. Collectively, the citizens and consumers of this town might one day have the fastest, most reliable internet service in America.
For the record, so you don’t misunderstand me, I’m not bashing our internet service providers. I just can’t help but think, as every other business has to compete with every other business in the world, why isn’t that principal put into motion where it could really make a difference in our standard of Lawton living.