September 23, 2020

Letter To The Editor: Internet Access in Heard County

To Heard County Citizens:

Internet access is certainly on the mind of many Heard County residents. Here are a few of the issues we face over this. The primary issue is supply and demand just like any other commodity.

Fiber Optic cable is expensive to install and being Heard county is so rural, the cost to install it cannot be recovered based on current population. So high speed internet for most of us is a long way off in the future.

Other complications include, Verizon service as many people say, is getting worse. Several years after 911 Congress realized the Nation had no reliable means of talking to each other and among first responders across networks in a disaster.

A plan was proposed to overcome that and AT&T won the bid to build a rural across America cell tower system to cover this problem. In so doing many people say Verizon gave up on growing in the rural areas and has focused on metro cities.

Until two years ago I had Verizon and could not get service inside my house. Frustrated I called them every week and got a different story each time. In the end I spoke to supervisors who said the Roopville tower had one side out and had been for some time resulting in poor coverage.

The Centralhatchee tower in their words had someone who obviously streamed Netflix all day and with other heavy users, this tower was maxed out. Unbelievable!

We don’t have that many residents in this area but that is the answer I was given.

Verizon of course says by looking at their coverage map Heard County should have good service. You be the judge.

AT&T is currently building new towers across the country and that includes Heard County. This is unfortunately a slow process.

So here are the current internet options. You can use Myfy, spotty service. You can use Hughes Net satellite or other similar platform, costly and still not equal to high speed fiber. You can use a Hot Spot phone connection which again is only as good as your cell phone service. A Hot Spot is at least portable so if you move to an area with good cell service you might have good internet service.

Keep in mind, your internet speed and quality also depends on your computer and or phone and various equipment. An old slow processor in any of these devices will cause slow internet.

Another option for a few Heard county residents is called Fixed Wireless Internet. Currently serving just over a hundred of our homes. AT&T is adding the ability for more and that should be complete by the end of this year.

Sadly, this will only help less than two hundred more homes and these will be in the Roopville and Texas areas of our county.

Our schools have the option of working with phone services and obtaining a number of internet devices in a bundle package that can help students.

They may already be doing this. I have not spoken to them as I just got this information from AT&T. I am not a sales rep for any of these companies and I am not pushing any one particular service. If you can get a company to allow you to test their product for thirty days you might have a good opinion of the product after that time.

I have been frustrated with all the excuses of metal roof, too many trees, heavy rain, too far from the tower, etc.

There is no simple fix and our commissioners can call, beg and scream, but the bottom line is we are all at the mercy of the internet providers who just don’t see enough customers to cover the cost.

Finally, land line service, better known to the youngsters, a cord attached home phone, is basically a thing of the past. Phone companies would like to completely do away with them.

Nothing I have stated here has not been told to me by reps for these companies but if you call their executive headquarters and ask, I am sure they will all tell you how great their service is and all their big plans for our area.

James Perry (Heard County)

Comments

  1. Robert Field says

    I have been functioning the last few years with ATT and a cell tower booster pointed at hwy 34 from hwy 219 near Victory rd. The last week or 2 has been terrible service 80% of the time but the 20% was well above normal. I can tell they are working on the new tower at Kirk rd…..when this turns on it will help for sure! But I happen to know they ran a 72 strand fiber cable down hwy 219 to this new tower. Being a former fiber splicer, I know it doesn’t take anywhere close to 72 strands to run a cell tower. That leaves pretty much all of hwy 219 to the troop county line should be able to receive high speed uverse….as soon as that tower comes online I will be inquiring about it for sure and hopefully others will join me!!

  2. Hazel Reeves says

    James Perry, you are 100% correct in your summary of our internet challenges in Heard County. I am on the Development Authority Board and internet access has been one of our main challenges for at least the last 4 to 5 years. We continue to work on this as our schools and some of our students have struggled during this “school from home” time.

    Mr. Field is also correct that the tower on Kirk Road will help. When the permit was applied to build this tower, one of the stipulations in permitting it was allowing Heard County use for the Emergency Services so maybe that configuration will help.

  3. James Perry says

    Hopefully we can get some help soon to improve this for more of our residents.

  4. MC Martin says

    It is my understanding that the county has invested large amounts of taxpayers money in purchasing government surplus equipment that is not a high priority. In addition, in recent years, they have constructed a new government center and a fine arts addition to the high school is underway. Why do this rather than fund the desperate need for county citizens to have access to decent internet and cell service? For the moneys expended on “surplus” equipment and expensive construction projects, the county could instead underwrite towers, wisps, or fiber to underserved areas. Why are the commissioners waiting for the telecomm companies to volunteer to solve the problem? Why are they spending SPLOST funds on capital improvements that will cost the taxpayers enormous amounts of money to maintain? The SPLOST funds will pay for the construction, but we the taxpayers will be paying the maintenance costs of these structures in the future. The citizens of this county need internet. The SPLOST funds should be directed towards that rather than constructing opulent buildings that we really can’t afford to maintain.
    In short, our leadership seems to have marginalized a very significant need of the citizens of this county and have instead invested in “surplus” equipment and construction projects.

    • J Duncan says

      You are absolutely on point. With the uncertainty we face in the current Covid19 and probable Covid20 crisis that may send our children into “Virtual Learning” via a Chromebook, we need solutions now. A child with a Chromebook with the means to access legitimate broadband internet access is equivalent to being given a vehicle with no road to drive it on. Many teachers and Heard County students found it impossible to complete assignments or to join remote learning sessions and instead had a very fancy Chromebook paper weight. How many Heard County citizens were asked to work from home and found it impossible. We have the summer months to prepare for whats very likely to return during fall/winter. We need to focus attention on all possible solutions to this very real problem. Why has Carroll EMC not followed electric co ops in other states who now have fiber optic lines run to rural residents? GA legislators passed a bill allowing them to do so! AT&T promised us broadband when they bought out Bell South and yet here we sit with waiting over 14 years later. The next time we are told that broadband is a luxury and not worth the investment, let’s think of the Heard County students sitting at home falling behind other cities.

  5. Salinger says

    I don’t understand the problem. If you have a problem with internet access, call a provider and find out how to get some kind of internet to you. For school assignments and other similar activities, satellite internet is a fine option. If you think that is too expensive, that’s your problem, not the county’s. And if you really have such a problem with it, move to somewhere that has the amenities you seek.

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