March 21, 2023
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Tri-Counties need better broadband services


Big ownership changes are coming to the telecommunications business in the Tri-Counties.

Those changes should give local elected officials an opportunity to demand a lot more when it comes to delivering broadband services to much of the region.

Today, huge chunks of Ventura, Santa Barbara and San Luis Obispo counties are poorly served by telecom providers. Small communities such as Piru and Ojai in Ventura County, parts of the Santa Ynez Valley in Santa Barbara County and North San Luis Obispo County just don’t have reliable service.

By some calculations, some 40 percent of the region is not adequately served with broadband — that’s a shocking number.

Broadband matters for a number of reasons. For one thing it enables professional workers and entrepreneurs to earn a livelihood by working remotely.

But most importantly, it enables working families with children to stay tethered to the educational system. Broadband has become an essential tool for kids to keep current on their homework and for parents to track their children’s progress, if necessary, on a daily basis.

Without broadband, a new generation of students won’t be able to keep pace with the challenges of the global economy — and parents won’t be able to know when their kids are falling behind.

The proposed sale of Verizon’s California operations to Frontier Communications and the proposed sale of Time Warner cable operations to Charter Communications will have a big impact on our region.

Telecom giant Verizon, long the incumbent wireline and DSL provider for many communities, is going full tilt into wireless. Frontier has a much more laser-like focus on broadband and Charter has vastly improved its reputation for service after recent management changes.

As these two deals move through the approval process, our elected officials should be pounding the table and demanding more access to broadband for communities that are desperately in need of services.

SEC OKs startup crowdfunding

The Securities and Exchange Commission opened a small door in a big way in late October when it set new rules that will allow startups to raise capital via crowdfunding on the Internet.

In brief, the rules would create an exception to rules that restrict risky investments to accredited investors, typically those with $1 million or more in capital to lose. Instead, any investor could put up to $2,000 into a startup via the new crowdfunding programs allowed by the SEC.

There are limits as to how many times a person could invest and how much money any startup can raise.

There are plenty of risks in investments such as these and we’re afraid that thousands of people who would have been better off creating an IRA and buying simple index funds will now get fleeced.

But then again, getting your fingers burned in a small investment is a great way to learn about risk.