This weekend’s Wetumpka Herald Facebook poll on broadband service in Elmore County drew complaints across the board about the service from those who commented.
Access to high-speed internet is problematic in Elmore County, according to officials who hope a study currently being conducted will shape a plan to expand broadband to the highest number of residents for the most efficient cost.
“I’d say it is the No. 1 complaint we hear among existing businesses and residents,” said Art Faulkner, chairman of the board of the Elmore County Economic Development Authority. We hear stories about parents having to carry their kids to McDonald’s or the library to have access to broadband so they can do their homework. We’ve got to figure out ways to get providers to enhance their capabilities in the county but these companies have got to see they are going to make a profit before they invest here.”
Broadband is defined by the Federal Communications Committee as a minimum of 25 megabits per second (mbps) download speed and 3 mbps upload speed. The standard before 2015 was 4 mbps download and 1 mbps upload.
“There is an incredible need for broadband,” county commissioner Bart Mercer said.
In the unscientific Facebook poll, 55% of respondents (41) said they don’t have broadband service and 45% (34) said they do. The poll reached 2,357 people.
Those who commented said they average paying $75 a month for their internet service and Faulkner said part of the Sain Associates Inc. study will include data on pricing and what residents are willing to pay for broadband.
“One thing we’re going to do as part of the feasibility study is get input from the public about what they need and want,” Faulkner said. “How much are they willing to pay? Lower speeds or higher speeds? It wouldn’t make much sense to put in a lot of high-speed broadband if people don’t want to pay $80 or $100 a month.”
Here is a sample of comments from the Facebook poll:
Kimberley Miller: “We live off Georgia Road. We use our cell phones (T-Mobile) for all our internet. We pay $100 a month. Only other service available is HughesNet, which was more, but can’t game online due to lag time with satellite.”
Amanda Cooper Givens: “I live off Ware Road in Elmore County. The only thing available is the expensive and not reliable satellite service. We recently disconnected our DISH service due to the high price, nearly $120 a month. And that was only for TV. We currently have to use our phones as a hotspot to do anything online.”
Tiffany Anderson: “We live in Elmore, close to Coosada. We have Spectrum and I asked for the highest speed available. We pay $91 a month.”
Tammy Inge Bowdoin: “I am in Lightwood on Nobles Road. I have HughesNet but don’t even use it anymore since we have unlimited data on cell through Verizon. As for HughesNet, it’s decent for just surfing/social media, etc., but impossible to watch videos, etc. Hot spot on my Verizon phone plan works great but of course there is a limit on it that. Video/Netflix, gaming, etc. eats it alive!! I also work from home some (by VPN) and my only option is my hot spot which is really pretty fast; it just disconnects from time to time which is annoying and not productive. My son starts college this fall and will really need a better internet option; not sure what that will be. From what I understand, high speed stops about 1 mile from my house. I currently pay $50 a month for an old outdated plan/system with HughesNet. I don’t mind paying more for good internet.”
Shelly Clampit: “I live off Tallassee Highway near Firetower Road. I have AT&T DSL, which is very slow, and I pay around $90 a month.”
Tony Montgomery: “I pay $99 for the 300-400 gig cable internet with Spectrum. I will change when the first person offers fiber optic in our area here in Millbrook.”
Suzanne Perdue: “(Living in) Eclectic (and) only available is Windstream.”
Chandra Faulkner: “We live on Morgan Trace off Rifle Range Road. The only internet we have is DSL from AT&T. It is very, very slow. Can’t stream at all. We pay around $39 a month.”
David Chrietzberg: “I have AT&T on Weoka Road … terrible internet service. Cannot download audible books (and) had to cancel Audible with Amazon. Speed test never above 1.23 mbps.”
Belinda Clearman Bazinet: “I live in Titus and have a Verizon hotspot because satellite internet is horrible. I pay $60 a month.”
Tracy Wigington Jenkins: (I live on) West Central Road. I say about $60 a month. (I have) AT&T DSL. It sucks but really don’t have any options. I need high-speed internet.
Brandon Taylor: “I live in Cotton Lakes and I pay $40 a month for Spectrum 400 mbps download (speed). That price is with my cable bundle.”
Brian Moore: “Weoka Road. We were told all the ports for AT&T were taken so we either had to wait until someone cancelled their service or they move. To find that out, we have to call AT&T back periodically to check and see. We ended up going with HughesNet satellite.”