Letter to the Editor

Urging Mid-Rivers to Rethink the “Mid-Rivers Tax”

I am writing to raise awareness and voice my concerns regarding Mid-Rivers’s utilization of the pay-per-gig model for their internet service. As a member-owned cooperative, Mid-Rivers should prioritize the best interests of its customers and foster an environment that benefits the entire community.

Since its establishment in 1952, Mid-Rivers has been an integral part of our community, providing essential services to its members. However, the recent implementation of the pay-per-gig model, which I firmly believe should be referred to as the “Mid-Rivers Tax,” has left many of us feeling frustrated and burdened.

With Mid-Rivers ending their cable TV service at the end of the year, they are essentially forcing customers to rely solely on internet-based streaming services for their entertainment needs. While embracing streaming technology is understandable, the decision to charge customers per gigabyte of data usage seems unjust and outdated. In an age where reliable and affordable internet access is considered a necessity for many aspects of daily life, this model penalizes individuals and families who rely heavily on internet services.

While Mid-Rivers claims an average cost of $78 for its members, it is crucial to recognize that this average is skewed by those individuals who rarely use the internet. For the majority of us who rely on the internet for streaming content, remote work, educational pursuits, and other essential activities, this pricing model is exorbitant and inequitable.

Affordable, high-speed internet access should be recognized as a fundamental right in the digital age. It is essential for bridging the digital divide and fostering community growth.

Here are some numbers to help illustrate my point. Let’s consider a scenario where you only watch the national average of three hours of TV per day on a 4K TV. Using Mid-Rivers’s own Data Estimation tool, this would result in an additional $148.80 on top of the monthly base fee of $19.95 for internet service. This does not include any other online usage during that time.

For those who enjoy watching the NFL, the NFL Sunday Ticket is now exclusively available on streaming through YouTube TV. The average NFL game lasts a little over three hours. Fans would incur additional charges each time they stream a game.

I ask the residents of Sidney and surrounding areas to join me in using the term “Mid-Rivers Tax” to highlight the unfairness and inequity of this pricing strategy and to urge Mid-Rivers to consider alternative pricing models that align with the cooperative principles of fairness and community benefit.

By voicing our concerns collectively, we can encourage Mid-Rivers to reevaluate their current approach. Let us remind them of their cooperative mission and the duty they hold in prioritizing the welfare of their customers and the community at large.

Thank you,

James Netzer, Sidney, MT


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