When something is being shoved down my throat I want to know why. I hear some say we will get broadband Internet with AT&T’s cell tower plan. I hear others say cell phone service. Others say it will help our volunteer fire and rescue teams. But I don’t hear specifics. I see maps that provide no details. I hear claims that 45 percent of the citizens will benefit. But when I look at the claims made by AT&T, I find nothing that specifically backs them up. It is left for us to fill in the dream with our own projections and wishful thinking.
The map shows Sperryville as an area that will receive some benefit. Sperryville already has Comcast cable, which provides high-speed Internet to some. It also has DSL service from Verizon, which provides high-speed Internet to some.
High speed Internet is a major part of what AT&T says that it must provide to meet the government’s incentives for expanding such service to everyone. But it will not be providing that service to everyone in Rappahannock County, or Sperryville for that matter. Some? Yes. How many? No numbers on that!
The Statement of Benefits is what is used to justify permitting AT&T to erect structures several places in the county up to 199 feet in the air. Until now we have viewed such intrusions into the “picture” of Rappahannock County as not compatible. We have rejected such applications. What Rappahannock is and looks like is what brings people to our county.
With Sprint, although we do not have universal coverage for cell service throughout the county, we do have compliance with the objective of maintaining the “picture.” The rejection of Sprint’s original application didn’t keep us from having service. Sprint worked with us to blend in. High-speed Internet service to some in the county followed.
With AT&T, we still will not have universal coverage for cell service throughout the county. A good portion of those who will get coverage from AT&T already get it from Sprint. With AT&T, we will still not have widespread access to high speed Internet.
But with AT&T we will change the “picture.” AT&T isn’t interested in blending in.
If we reject the additional applications as they come in, we can protect the features of our skyline. It is the natural, unspoiled nature of that skyline as seen from most any point in Rappahannock County that is a major attraction. Visitors come to experience and enjoy the county and spend their money. Every day, you can see people get out of their vehicles to take pictures of our “clean” skyline.
Two-hundred-foot naked towers, whether built by AT&T or someone else, mar one of the very things that draw people to us.
We are losing the overall sense that everyone has when they come here. It is that sense that they have entered a special, more natural, less despoiled piece of earth than that which surrounds us in the neighboring counties.
Tim and Mary Lou Pagano