Letter: Ned Ludd or Thomas Hobbes?

Desperately clinging to yesteryear’s outmoded cell phone tower technology while not taking advantage of the latest voice-data transmission science afforded in the extraordinary innovations of geostatic satellite technology is a strange place from which to call someone else a Luddite.

Cell phone towers were developed way back in the dawn of wireless communications. Years later companies innovated into satellite technology. But by the time this technology was available and being instituted everywhere else across the globe, consumer territories in the United States had already been divvied up among large companies based on cell-towers with limited reach.

Satellites obviate the need for territorial turf wars and spoil the entrenched cell-tower monopolies since they are accessible by anyone anywhere. The big phone companies like Sprint and AT&T have got some of our neighbors bamboozled into thinking that they’re the only game in town. Instead of using cell phones responsive to satellites miles above the Earth, we’ve been offered the Hobbesian choice that in order to have mobile service we’ve got to construct ugly, intrusive and contentious towers all over the landscape.

The spectacle of people shouting into their cell phones, “Can you hear me now?”, putting up with static and dropped calls, essentially stuck with covered wagon technology when the Formula-1 race car alternative is available is truly a comic sight. Those who prefer this system of ubiquitous steel towers, flashing lights and yearly contracts are already free to sign up, pay the monthly bill and use it everywhere but in Rappahannock County. But why impose this on the rest of us at the irreversible price of ruining the beautiful place in which we live?

Satellite phones provide access into the deepest, darkest hollows of the county. I can only wonder why those who claim to be excluded have chosen to remain without essential mobile phone communications for all this time. The good news is that anyone of us can buy a satellite phone for between $49 and $99 and get connected within minutes. Once online and in touch I invite my recent critics to come over to our side of the debate. And not to worry, we don’t turn away Luddites, even those who don’t know that’s what they are.

Ron Maxwell
Flint Hill

About Ron Maxwell 8 Articles
Ron Maxwell: filmmaker, dog lover, tree hugger; moved to Rappahannock County in 2003. He is currently prepping a western entitled "Belle Starr."