My family and I have lived on Silverado Trail for close to 25 years. Our house sits a few miles north of Trancas Street, just shy of Oak Knoll Avenue. We’ve struggled with our Internet service, only available through AT&T or NapaNet for as long as I can remember. We’ve gone through dozens of routers and modems and even tried “premium” cables in an attempt to squeeze every bit of bandwidth possible out of the archaic DSL service.
But it’s still not enough.
Our maximum downstream bandwidth is less than six megabits, while our upstream is laughable at less than one-half of a megabit. These are dial-up numbers and unable to provide a modern online experience.
Streaming video, forget about HD, in either direction is problematic, even for a one-person household. Uploading anything larger than a photo can take hours, or even days. Online gaming is a miserable experience. Even basic web browsing, social media, and online shopping is a slog.
At the beginning of August, I started driving for Uber and Lyft and I have been asking my passengers, those who live locally, if they have the same issues. Anyone who lives outside the densely packed residential areas in town has similar complaints and feels as if they are stuck in the Stone Age.
A significant percentage of the population of Napa lives semi-rurally. People living on and near Silverado Trail, Monticello Road, Hagen Avenue and Dry Creek Road are just some of those affected. There is a lack of modern internet infrastructure throughout much of the valley.
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One would think that with the hundreds of businesses and residences in these areas, the county of Napa would take action to provide them with quality internet services. We have been stuck paying exorbitant prices for unacceptable levels of service.
With no real competition, AT&T doesn’t have to improve to take our money. NapaNet is an option for point-to-point wireless service, which outperforms AT&T in some ways but underperforms in others, and is a side-grade from AT&T at best.
Napa needs modern fiber lines to be brought to every area that it is reasonable to do so. This isn’t just a place for people to come on vacation. People live here. People need modern internet service to live their best lives.
A true municipal broadband service through a local company, like NapaNet, would be ideal, but it has to start with local government. It’s not going to be immediately profitable to bring these changes, but it is immediately necessary.